How to become a communications intern: Alex's story

Meet Alex, 22, from Bristol. She works in Salisbury as a communications intern for the charity Horatio's Garden. Part of our Bitesize world of work series.

"I wanted work that had a moral purpose."

What is your job?

I work for a charity called Horatio’s Garden – they create and nurture gorgeous gardens in NHS Spinal Centres for patients and their loved ones. We also offer patients the chance to take part in weekly garden and art therapy sessions, which are designed to help people’s physical and mental rehabilitation. I promote events on all of our social media platforms, and make sure that people are attending. I write a lot for the website, updating news and events. I try to go to the gardens at least once a week.

What skills do you use in your job?

When I’m writing emails and articles, I have to adapt my tone to fit our charity. Also, being open and talking to people really helps as you have to be open to communicating with people such as press contacts and volunteers. Organisation is important for keeping on top of stuff! I also have to be sensitive to the people I’m around, because I’m often with patients, as well as being around colleagues.

What subjects did you study?

For GCSEs I picked Photography, German, History and Geography and for A-levels I did English Language, English Literature, Geography and History. My degree is in History. English and History are two subjects I really enjoyed, and doing History at university was really helpful, because it taught me attention to detail when I’m writing. Also, the analytical skills that these subjects give you helps.

How did you get into your job?

My position is funded by the Rank Foundation, who support young interns who are figuring out what they want to do. They fund you for a year in your placement, and you can learn new skills and meet new people.

Alex writes for a number of different platforms in her role.

Top tips

  • Don’t panic, because you’ve got plenty of time to decide!

  • Do things you really enjoy

  • University can be hard, but it’s also incredibly rewarding – you just have to believe in yourself

  • Research the companies you want to work for and see if they fit with your ethos because, if they don’t, you probably won’t feel very fulfilled.

What to expect if you want to be a communication officer

When Alex finishes her internship, she could have the opportunity to apply for jobs such as a communications officer, public relations officer, public relations executive, communications officer or press officer.

  • Communications officer salary: £18,000 to £90,000
  • Communications officer working hours: 38 to 40 hours

What qualifications do you need to be a communication officer?

  • Typical entry requirements: You could study for a degree or postgraduate award recognised by the Chartered Institute of Public Relations. Relevant courses include Public Relations, Media Communications, Business and Public Relations. You'll usually need two to three A-levels for a degree or a degree in any subject for a postgraduate course. There is no set entry route to become a public relations officer, but it may be useful to do a relevant subject like a Foundation Certificate in Marketing. You can also do a public relations assistant higher apprenticeship. You'll usually need four or five GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C) and college qualifications like A-levels for a higher or a degree apprenticeship. You can also study higher level qualifications if you're working in a marketing or communications department. You'll find it useful to get paid or unpaid experience of working in public relations.

This information is a guide (sources: LMI for All, National Careers Service)

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