How to win a PR internship at a tech PR firm in Austin


Mary Jenkins
How to win a PR internship at a tech PR firm...

For college students and entry level PR professionals alike, internships are often the gateway to full-time positions. In the uncertain job market that COVID-19 has created, the experience you gain from an internship at a tech PR firm has become even more important for future job security. 

Despite the setbacks of the pandemic, Austin’s tech startup scene continues to grow. If you’re looking to plug into the PR side of this growing hub, you’ll need to play your cards right. While the job market at the moment may look grim, there are ways to set yourself up for success when it comes to applying for an internship at a tech PR firm in Austin.

Make your resume shine

Your resume is often the first thing potential employers receive. It sets the stage for your communication skills and gives potential employers insight into your past experiences. It should go without saying that your resume should:

  1. Include education, relevant experience, and skills; 
  2. Be in chronological order with your most recent work experience at the top;
  3. Be completely and thoroughly spell checked and free of errors.

Outside of these common resume tips you should also diversify your action verbs, make your wording clear and concise, and include relevant data points. For example, if you helped increase followers for a social media account, share the percentage increase over the given period of time. Connect your responsibilities to growth, either personal or work-related and explain the problems you solved. Responsibilities do not stand out if you do not connect them to proof of execution. 

If you’re applying to a job posting, study the job description. Make sure you echo the job 

description’s language in your resume and connect past responsibilities to the skills the job requires. Perhaps your experience is limited to counseling at a summer camp or working at the snack stand, which may seem like a far cry from PR, but don’t fret. Part of marketing and PR is brand image. Think about how you can market yourself to best fit the role of the position you’re applying for. Did your time counseling teach you about the value of collaboration and conflict resolution? Did your snack stand job give you unique insight into the positive influence relationship building and customer service has on sales conversions? Think about the ways in which your past employment, in PR or otherwise, will inform the job you’re applying for.

And if you really want to make your resume stand out and sharpen your skills, consider taking free HubSpot or LinkedIn Lynda marketing courses. Not only will this show that you’re actively engaging with PR and marketing skills, but it will also help boost your experience and fill in some of the knowledge gaps from past employment. 

Network

Now more than ever networking and relationship building is the key to scoring a job. Although there may not be any current internship offerings at any of your choice tech PR firms in Austin, if you build connections with employees at those PR firms you’ll likely be top of mind when hiring does commence. Research tech PR firms in Austin, study them, and if you don’t see any openings, shoot them an email expressing your interest in the company with an attached resume and cover letter. Don’t forget to be specific about how your skills and experience can add value to the team and customers of the PR firm. Connect with employees on LinkedIn and reach out to them; not for a job necessarily, but rather to learn more about their company and their position.

Don’t look at these potential conversations as transactional or as an opportunity to score the job. Instead, use them as opportunities to build relationships. The key is to put in the effort to get to know the person you’ve reached out to. People are busy, especially now, and even five minutes of their time is invaluable. These relationships will not only connect you to the company, but also give you unique insight into the skills you need to have for a position at a tech PR firm in Austin. 

You can also consider attending one of Austin’s many networking events or check out some of Austin’s many Facebook groups including Networking Austin. Especially during a time when organic meet-ups are not as frequent, being intentional about networking is key to getting your foot in the door. 

Study up

Austin is a growing tech hub which makes tech PR in Austin a different kind of beast. That’s because the Austin tech industry requires all of its participants to be on the cutting edge and up to speed with the constantly changing tech universe. In order to stand out for an internship at a tech PR firm in Austin you should have your finger on the pulse of the tech scene. 

Follow relevant hashtags on LinkedIn and Twitter (#AustinTech, #AustinStartups, and #TechPR, to name a few). Keep your eye on tech PR firms not only in Austin, but also in San Francisco, Denver, or even Houston. Boosting your knowledge of what tech PR firms are doing in other tech hubs will give you unique insight to bring to interviews. It’s also a good idea to follow tech media sites like TechCrunch and Fast Company to stay on top of tech news and trends, along with our favorite PR websites, including PRDaily and Swyft Insights.

It’s not only important to know the inner workings of tech PR but also startup culture in general. Oftentimes, the companies tech PR firms in Austin are helping will be startups. Silicon Hills is home to over 5,500 startups and tech companies. Familiarize yourself with some of these startups and their PR strategies. You’re more likely to get hired if your passion for tech is backed up by some real knowledge of the companies that you could potentially be working with. The Austin Startup Digest and Silicon Hills News are a great place to start.

Attend Austin Startup Week

Austin Startup Week showcases Austin’s entrepreneurial scene and offers educational tracks, mentor office hours, startup showcases, and networking mixers. It is a great opportunity to network and to become familiar with the tech environment in Austin. Being in tech PR means that you’ll likely be tasked with creating thought leadership content that resonates with startups. 

The workshops at Austin Startup Week can help inform topics for you to suggest to the tech PR firm you’re applying to. Be sure to attend the marketing and branding specific presentations. Stay tuned for next year’s events taking place October 3-7, 2021.

Volunteer for a tech company

Unfortunately due to Covid-19, clients are reducing their PR budgets, which means that  tech PR firms may be putting a hold on hiring. If you’re still on the hunt for an internship, consider using this time in limbo to further build your association with the tech industry. A few tech companies in Austin offer paid volunteer time. Consider volunteering your time at these companies to become familiar with what startups in Austin will need from their PR firms once their budgets allow. 

Take advantage of connections at your university

If you’re a college student in or outside of Austin, take advantage of your alumni network. Schedule a meeting with a college career center advisor and ask them to connect you to graduates in the Austin area. Regardless if these alumni are in tech PR or not (but even better if they are), they have roots in Austin and can help point you in the right direction or even connect you with members of their network. Because alumni love helping students from their Alma Mater, especially in a growing city like Austin, it’s unlikely that these individuals will turn down a chance to connect future alumni to the city they live in. 

About Mary Jenkins: Mary is a Senior Communications Associate for Swyft, which is a tech PR agency in Austin and Houston and a top digital marketing and PR agency in Denver since its founding in 2011. Swyft recently opened a satellite office where it offers tech PR in San Francisco. Swyft was also listed as one of the top tech PR agencies in Texas by the B2B services review site, Clutch.co.

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