Home / People & Careers / Internships

Internships

Cole Lawson receives hundreds of enquiries every year from PR and journalism students looking to expand their professional experience by undertaking an internship at our firm.

This page provides a guide to our PR internship program and to help you decide on whether to apply to Cole Lawson. You can also read some insights from our recent interns on our blog.

Q. What does an internship involve?

Internships are periods of unpaid work experience that university students generally undertake as a required or elective part of their degrees. PR internships involve you coming to our office every day for a block of time (eg. 2-4 weeks) or for set days each week over a longer period. For insurance reasons internships can only be undertaken by students from recognised tertiary institutions.

Q. What is the application process?

First, read these FAQs thoroughly. Then, send your CV and application letter to us as per the instructions on the bottom of this page. Make sure you let us know what and where you are studying, your professional interests and existing skills, and your desired internship duration and timing. If you are selected for an interview, we will meet with you and review your university portfolio. Successful applicants will receive an email confirming the duration and timing of the internship.

Q. What are you looking for when choosing interns?

Cole Lawson generally selects final-year students (or exceptional second-year students) who show a genuine interest and aptitude in our areas of expertise and industry specialisations. Therefore, make sure you have read our web site and understand the kind of work we do before you apply.

We will also look at your academic results, work samples, media release writing and any other relevant (paid or unpaid) work experience you have.

Q. Do you pick the students with the best GPAs?

While academic results are one factor we look at, they are not the only factor. We also consider how your personality and presentation will fit with our team's culture, as well as your professional interests and skills and your prior (paid or unpaid) work experience and portfolio.

Q. Do you accept first-year university students?

Because most university courses do not introduce specific public relations subjects until at least the middle of second-year, we find that final-year (or exceptional second-year) students have some practical and theoretical experience and are therefore the best candidates for internships in a PR consultancy.

Q. I'm in first-year but will want to do an internship in a PR agency like Cole Lawson when I am further advanced in my studies. What can I do to prepare?

Many interns undertake prior work experience before applying to Cole Lawson in their final years. We suggest that in-house experience, particularly in the nonprofit sector, can be a great way to be given responsibility and build up your portfolio before applying for an internship with us. Keep in mind that the consulting business can be hectic, high-pressure and require interns to demonstrate some autonomy, so you will find that having some prior experience is very helpful.

Q. What do I gain by doing an unpaid internship?

The PR industry is an extremely competitive field for new graduates. Internships are one way to build up your portfolio of work samples and experience to help sell yourself to employers in the future.

Beyond making yourself more marketable to employers, a PR internship should also be a learning experience in the development of your career. It gives you a taste of the full-time working world and helps you identify tasks and areas of PR practice that you enjoy. This may help you choose which jobs to apply for, which subjects to choose next semester, or even give you ideas for a previously undiscovered career path. Importantly, internships let you work side-by-side with seasoned PR practitioners, learn from their real-world experience, and talk to them about their careers. You can read some insights from our recent interns on our blog.

Q. What kind of tasks will I do?

The work you do during a PR internship depends on your skills and interests and on the projects we have underway at the time. Typical tasks our interns may undertake include:

  • Gathering and presenting data about an issue or an industry 
  • Preparing fact sheets or briefs 
  • Preparing media or stakeholder contact lists and databases 
  • Editing images and documents in Photoshop and InDesign 
  • Undertaking preliminary news gathering interviews 
  • Generating ideas for media angles and events 
  • Providing general support and assistance to consultants 
  • Helping us with communication research by undertaking surveys and inputting data

You will also gain experience in the operation of a PR agency by completing timesheets detailing your activities and attending staff work-in-progress meetings. Where possible, we seek clients' permission to allow interns to observe non-confidential meetings and briefings.

Q. Does Cole Lawson charge clients for the work interns do?

Cole Lawson does not charge our clients for the work undertaken by our interns.

Q. Will I get material to use in my portfolio at the end of the internship?

Cole Lawson tries to ensure that all interns have something tangible to show for their experience, such as an item you have drafted that can be added to your portfolio. At the end of your internship, we will agree with you on what material, if any, we can release for use in your portfolio. Of course, anything that is sensitive or confidential cannot be shared outside the firm.

Q. Do you give preference to students from any particular institutions?

We will consider final-year students (or exceptional second-years) studying a Bachelor or Masters level degree in public relations, communications or journalism. You must be studying at an institution that is able to provide you with insurance. In Brisbane, QUT, UQ, Bond, Griffith and USQ all have formal internship placement programs and have placed students at Cole Lawson Communications.

Q. Do you provide references for interns?

If requested, Cole Lawson will provide you with a letter of confirmation at the end of your internship that outlines the time you spent with us and the nature of the duties you undertook.

Q. Can I expect a job at Cole Lawson at the end of my internship?

When Cole Lawson is hiring Account Associates we may invite applications from recent, outstanding interns. However, Account Associate positions may only become available once every year or less frequently. You should therefore treat your internship as a fantastic opportunity to get some real-world experience - but don't be disappointed if it does not result in a job.

Q. When should I apply?

Bachelor's degree students can apply to complete an internship at any time during or just prior to your final year of university. If you are completing a postgraduate qualification you may apply at any time during your studies.

Q. Do you have particular dates for internship intakes?

No. We receive the most applications prior to the summer and winter uni breaks, but we will accept strong internship candidates at any time, when places are available.

Q. How much time does an internship take?

Most universities that offer internships for credit recommend that you spend 120-160 hours on your internship. The time varies depending on the purpose of your internship, whether it is part of your formal studies, and on your availability.

Q. Can I do my internship one day per week?

Cole Lawson gives preference to students who can devote at least two days per week to their internships. We find that students who attend less frequently than this need to start afresh each week. The more consecutive or regular days you can devote to your internship, the more likely you will be to feel involved and included and see tasks or projects through from start to finish.

Q. I have been accepted as an intern. What hours will I be working?

Interns typically work from around 9am to 5pm, depending on the workload at the time.

Q. I have been accepted as an intern. How can I ensure I make a positive impression?

Being professional, meeting deadlines and following instructions all should go without saying. But what else? Nothing beats a positive, energetic, "can do" attitude. If you get the chance to intern with our team, don't be afraid to ask questions, offer your ideas, and to look for opportunities to get involved. We value initiative and proactivity, so don't be afraid to have a go.

Want to apply?

Please send your CV, a cover letter and a portfolio of work (2 examples, no longer than 2 pages in length) to the manager of our internship program:

Bo Daly
Account Manager
Cole Lawson Communications
PO Box 12254
George Street, Brisbane 4003

or via email to bo.daly@colelawson.com.au.