Charities and voluntary sector

Ian Shekleton

Job PR Intern
Employer Special Olympics Ireland
Education BA Public Relations and Online Communications, Dundalk Institute of Technology (Expected 2015)

I’m currently studying Public Relations in Dundalk IT. From the very beginning the course has provided me with both a practical understanding of the PR world and has allowed me to develop skills in various areas such as communications, computing and writing. Taking on a work placement is a mandatory part of my degree, giving us the opportunity to experience a professional work environment. I am currently working with Special Olympics Ireland as a PR intern.

My current role

Since I started my internship with Special Olympics Ireland, I have had so many different roles and tasks. When I started the placement, my primary objective was to raise awareness of our Annual Collection Day. My first task was to develop a database of all the local journalists in each county that contributed into the “Community Notes” section of their paper. Once I finished the database I started contacting journalists asking them to include a brief community notice regarding the recruitment of volunteers for our collection day. Most journalists placed the message in their community notes, and seeing them made me feel that I was actively contributing to the success of the event.

Following up with radio stations was another job that I took responsibility for. I had to arrange interviews, provide them with messages for their Facebook pages and send them press releases according to the different regions.

For the collection day itself I was given the task of taking charge of the RSVP list for our Breakfast Morning in eircom; all calls/emails regarding the Breakfast went through me.

The internship has proved to be an invaluable learning experience, and in my opinion work placements should be an experience offered by every course provider. There is no better way in finding out whether you like something or not, than by taking on a full time position for a period of time. The 3 months that I have spent working with Special Olympics Ireland has taught me more about Public Relations and business than all the years I’ve spent in college.


In this industry, a strong work ethic is a necessity. I wouldn’t say that I’m exceptional at anything but I work hard, I’m organised and I’m always willing to learn. This placement has taught me that you don’t need to be brilliant at every aspect of a job; internships are about learning, self-development, and giving you an experience that will positively affect your future career path.

I’d advise students and graduates to say “yes” to everything; by this I mean take the opportunity to experience every aspect a job has to offer. For example, before I began my internship with Special Olympics Ireland, I thought I’d just be writing press releases and attending launches. Fortunately, I experienced so much more; I helped out with presentations, I loaded a lorry full of merchandise, organised buckets/t-shirts to go to different towns throughout Ireland and got to know some athletes. By throwing myself into every task set before me, I believe I got a true understanding of what the charity is all about. This made what I was doing behind my desk more relevant as I could see why I was doing it.

My future

It’s hard to know where I see myself after college; this placement has opened my eyes to what’s out there. I suppose the dream is to be working with a good group of people and ideally travel all over the world. Public Relations is an area that I feel I’m very competent in, but I am also interested in digital marketing. I suppose I am looking for a career with dynamism and diversity and my work placement has given me a much better sense of what to expect in the workplace and how to prepare for it.