Ballou France has an enviable pipeline of joiners and this is down to the company’s brilliant student interns, says Managing Director Alexandre Denis, himself a veteran of two internships, one in Madrid and one in a French PR agency where he was subsequently hired. Ballou France always has two interns, generally students studying communications. In France the vast majority of undergraduates undertake at least a six-month internship before they can graduate.
Thomas Duporge was hired two years ago after an internship and is now Senior Account Executive, Clémence Combettes returned to Ballou after an internship and Paul Dimny has been hired as a part-time comms manager after another successful internship.
Once an internship opportunity has been posted, candidates have two interviews with different team members and Ballou establishes how the company can help the student with their studies and how the student would benefit Ballou. What it comes down to, says Alexandre, is “chemistry, motivation and energy. Are they willing to learn and get involved?”
Internships were perceived poorly for a while because of unscrupulous companies viewing them as a way of accessing free labour, but Ballou accords its paid interns exactly the same level of importance as any other joiner. Far from a “make the coffee and watch” role, internships at Ballou involve talking to clients, calling journalists and being involved in brainstorm sessions. Alexandre and the whole team are always happy to invest time in training interns as, as he puts it, “we will be the ones that also gain in the long term.”
So what advice would Alexandre give to a student about to embark on their first PR internship? “Don’t underestimate yourself. Be brave and feel proud that you got the opportunity. It’s a competitive market. And for the agency, view them as part of the team. Everything the team does, office drinks included, so should your interns.”