Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but you can’t expect to get a job out of college on your “Theory of Public Relations” class alone. Internships provide – if you’re willing to work for it – knowledge, expertise and experience that will help you shine in the application process for future employers. Is being an intern always easy? No. Is it the awful job that you hear horror stories about? Not always.
It’s like a relationship. What you put into it you will get out of it.
This is especially true if you’re a public relations intern, where your personality and drive work in your favor to make the most of out your temporary employment. Below are some insights and advice from a previous intern (me) on what you need to do to make the most out of your internship.
Always ask questions
If you do not understand something, speak up. It is always better to ask someone to explain something so you can get the task done correctly the first time than to not understand and have to rework something a few times over. It will save you time, and it will also show you as a professional individual who can be counted on.
Strive to be unforgettable
I’m not saying you have to come into work every day with donuts for the whole office, or wear crazy outfits to be seen - that one might not help at all. But always be the intern who will volunteer to work a client’s event, or run out and grab supplies for a big project the team is working on. You’ll be seen as reliable and a go-getter, two characteristics that are important when working in public relations.
Don’t be too good for grunt work
I worked at an internship where I had to take out the garbage and clean the sink of the AE’s dishes…I am not kidding. Don’t complain (openly) about these things. If you do have to run out and grab coffee - that happens. If you do have to take out a trash bag, get over it. If you start to complain and your coordinator or someone else hears this, it makes you seem like someone who doesn’t want to work. It is hard work when you’re in the ‘real world,’ and although taking the trash out might seem like it has nothing to do with public relations, the message you send complaining about it shows the employers you’re not ready to work.
Always think ahead
Does a certain account executive always ask how many press hits a client got in the past two weeks? Have that information ready before you know they are going to ask. Being prepared portrays you as someone who is ready for anything that can be thrown at you, something important when working with client demands.
Take note of your achievements
Internships are important to help you learn valuable knowledge that will follow you to your first full-time position. The tools and experiences you learn should be reiterated on your resume–so don’t hold back. Go ahead and put down that you were selected to fill in for account activities when your supervisor went on vacation. Go ahead and put down that you were the only intern to be asked to proof press releases, or that you were picked to go on an important trip because of how responsible you were. Take note of these achievements and let them shine.
Interning can be a very rewarding process, especially if you’re willing to put in the work. The training can be some of the best prep you can get before going into the workforce. If you have a successful internship, you can apply what you learn to your full-time job later on. I hope that my bit of advice above will help you or someone you know get the most out of an internship.