Diary of an IC student

What is it like to study internal communication (IC)? What topics are covered and what value does it add to your career?

Jess Grant (pictured), Charity Communications Assistant for a membership-funded grant-making charity, has written a guest article to share her experiences as she has just begun her learning journey by studying the Internal Communication Certificate at PR Academy.

She is supporting a major nationwide communications initiative raising awareness of the charitable help available to potential beneficiaries through a varied range of communications activities. Jess previously worked for an environmental non-profit organisation in a communications role, preparing volunteers for field-work projects and expeditions across the globe, and says she is “still in sponge mode.” Over to you Jess…

On the train to the first session of the Internal Communication Certificate last month I tweeted the following: ‘On my way to the first @CIPR_UK @pracademy #internalcommunication certificate session. Nervous!

And, shameless mentions and hash-tagging aside, nervous I was. This is the first formal training I have tackled since graduating with an English degree in 2010, which, whilst undoubtedly useful for my communications role, doesn’t exactly prepare you for ins and outs of the varied world of a professional communicator.

Valuable crossovers
Whilst not specifically working in a typical internal communication role, there are many valuable crossovers working for a volunteer-driven membership organisation, so I opted for the six month face-to-face Certified Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) accredited qualification on the recommendation of my line manager (always a good place to start).

I’d also heard the teaching from PR Academy, the largest provider of CIPR qualifications, to be top notch. I hoped the course would offer me a useful mix of personal interaction and group learning, a decent grounding in theory, and some practical strategic tools to take back to the office. Looking around the room at my fellow students, around 20 of us all told, it seemed we all had this in common.

The first session began with the usual introductory five minutes and a quick run through of what to expect from the course. And then we dived straight in. Day one provided a basic introduction to different theories, including systems, communication, organisational culture and management theories; posed questions about what is meant by employee engagement, how it can be measured, and different drivers for engagement; a look into change communication; the role of managers; and examined different strategic frameworks and planning models and how they could be applied in the work place.

Exchanging ideas
PR Academy
Everyone got involved and there was a useful exchange of ideas. We had some whole group discussions and were split off into different smaller groups for more in depth considerations. The breadth of different industries made the session all the more dynamic; it was interesting to hear the different challenges practitioners face across different sectors and types of organisation.

At the end of the session we were given some activities to undertake over the next few weeks to support the day’s learning. These include a few chapters of reading from the two core texts, some videos from the BledCom Conference, an article on employee engagement, and a few websites to check out. The two core texts are CEO: The Chief Engagement Officer by John Smythe (you can read a book review of it here in a previous guest article – Rachel) and Exploring Internal Communication, edited by Kevin Ruck.

Future sessions will go on to look in more detail at different planning models, tone of voice, and the role of social media for internal communication professionals.

All in all the teaching was excellent and I found it to be a really useful day; daunting but with the confidence that as the course progresses all of this learning will slot into place and really be used in my working life.

Post author: Jess Grant

Thank you for sharing your first impressions Jess, I’m glad your first session went well and I wish you the best of luck with your studies.

I have shared my research into how internal communication professionals use social media with PR Academy founder Kevin Ruck  and I know he is going to share it with the students in an upcoming session. You can view the whole syllabus here. Are you currently studying internal communication? How is it going so far? What have you learnt that has surprised you? You’re welcome to tweet me @AllthingsIC or comment below.

If you would like to write a guest article for my blog, do check out my guidelines and get in touch with your idea and you could see your name here. Thank you for stopping by, Rachel

Further reading:
Rolling out the red carpet for comms courses
Comms pros are qualified to celebrate
CEO: The Chief Engagement Officer review
Jenni Wheller blogs about the Internal Comms Diploma


  1. As an English graduate who also went into Internal Comms, I can completely understand where Jess is coming from.

    If I’d been made aware of a qualification like this when I was starting out I would have jumped at it!

    Hope you enjoy it, and I’m looking forward to seeing what you learn and what I can learn as well…there’s nothing like a bit of free learning :)!

  2. Thanks for your comment Steve, I’m glad you enjoyed Jess’ article. Look out for one from Laura Davies this week @lauradavies24 – she is studying a Masters in Strategic Communication and has written for my blog about studying and what she’s experienced so far, Rachel

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