Goals and Objectives
The internship program is designed to help you to experience what it is really like working in a public relations environment, to help you apply the theory and skills you have learnt at university, and for your personal development.
Within these broad parameters, you and your internship employer will have individual and common professional goals and objectives. You need to consider these in your own time and then discuss them with your potential employer before you start your internship.
The decisions you and your employer make will be formalised through your Internship Learning Agreement. By setting goals and objectives before you start, you will have a benchmark against which you can assess your achievements and your personal development. This will help you to write your report at the end of your internship.
When you and your employer discuss the tasks planned for your internship, and determine your learning outcomes, remember that your internship should be:
- relevant to your future employment goals;
- challenging but not so challenging that the tasks overwhelm you; and
- relevant and useful to the business or activities in which your employer is engaged.
You should be comfortable with the tasks involved in your internship. Your university studies will have prepared you to make a professional contribution to achieving the goals and objectives of the projects on which you will work. You need to be open with your employer if a proposed task is beyond you.
Sometimes you will be asked to do small non-professional jobs (like filling envelopes, or photocopying) in order to meet deadlines and to get the job done (that happens at all levels of PR!), but you should not be required to spend all of your internship on these tasks. That would defeat the goal of an internship. Your employer should be aware of the need to keep you involved in professional tasks.
Setting your internship goals and objectives
"Take enough time to think and plan things in the order of their importance." - Benjamin Franklin
Take some time now to think about your personal internship goals and objectives. Your personal goals are important if you are to make the most of your internship, just as setting goals and objectives are important for a successful public relations program.
In very general terms, the goals of the internship program are to provide an opportunity for you to:
- learn more about public relations by examining it from a practitioners perspective; and
- learn more about yourself and your skills, identifying areas for improvement.
(Source: Schettler. (2002) Learning By Doing, Training, Apr 2002. Retrieved July 25, 2002 from ProQuest Database (All Databases))
Throughout your learning experiences, you will be able to reflect on a number of areas and this reflection should start prior to the internship by thinking about what you want to achieve from the program. Start by reflecting on your existing skills and knowledge before setting yourself some personal goals. Your GOALS should reflect the major learning experiences you would like to achieve during your internship. You may choose to think of some goals using the following areas for learning:
- academic learning applying the knowledge learned in the classroom to the work environment;
- career development developing knowledge of a position in order to pursue a particular interest or career option;
- skill development gaining an understanding of the technical skills and knowledge required in the workplace;
- personal development gaining decision-making and critical thinking skills as well as increased confidence and self-esteem.
(Source: National Society for Experiential Education. Retrieved August 15, 2002 from the World Wide Web)
Before setting these goals, some time to reflect on your own abilities may give you direction in your search for a productive and worthwhile internship. Think about it as a SWOT analysis on yourself. A first step is to analyse your technical skills (what you can do), your professional skills (what you know) and your personal skills (how well you can get things done).
A workbook (see the reference below) produced by Belle Alderman and Trish Milne at the University of Canberra, provides a framework for this analysis. Some of the skills listed below, from that workbook, may be sufficient for your own preparation. Consider each of them, and others you feel may be appropriate, think of examples where you have demonstrated these skills and then identify the skills that need developing.
|Personal Skills||Technical Skills||Professional Skills|
(Adapted from: Alderman B. & Milne P. (1997) Probabilities and Possibilities: Internships and Work Experience, University of Canberra, Canberra.)
Once you have set your goals, think about some specific objectives. Your OBJECTIVES should reflect the concrete and measurable steps you need to undertake to achieve your goals. Goals outline means and outcomes in general terms; objectives specify nuts and bolts. Make your goals and objectives realistic: dont try to do too much and thus overload your internship.
Some examples of internship goals and objectives are included in the section below.
|1. To increase my understanding of media relations.||1. Write a media release that gets published and broadcast.|
|2. Call journalists to brief them on the media release.|
|3. Discuss with some journalists what they expect in a media release - and what they usually do with them.|
Once your goals and objectives have been settled, use them when you negotiate what you would like to do during your internship with your employer. Your goals could be translated into learning outcomes and your objectives could highlight some tasks that can be included in your Learning Agreement.
Write your goals and objective setting in a journal so you can reflect on your achievements later.
Consider the field in which you would like to work
When you are considering your goals and objectives, also think about the kind of organisation in which you would like to do your internship and even the kind of public relations work you would like to try out.
For example, you might like to do your internship in a consultancy where you are likely to work on a range of tasks from writing media releases and liaising with journalists, to displays, and booklet production. Alternatively, you might be interested in event management and decide to try this in a charitable organisation.
You will need to be flexible about the kind of work you would like try out because not every organisation can provide every public relations experience.
Remember not to be concerned if you select, say, political communications at an industry association for your internship and decide after you finish that you did not enjoy that kind of work. The positive outcome will be that you will know that you would prefer to specialise in something else. But do raise any issues like this with your lecturer during the course of your internship.
Next Section: Finding an Internship Employer