I remember Internship Season like it was yesterday…
My class has always been a competitive group, but during the spring of 2014 that competitive nature was an entirely different beast.
“How many jobs have you applied for?”
“How many interviews have you had?”
“You haven’t had an interview? Well I heard someone already had three.”
Tensions were high. Emotions ran rampant. Those few months of intern applications felt like life or death. If you didn’t get a position for the summer what did that mean for your ENTIRE FUTURE?
Okay, so I’m being a little dramatic. In the end we all got jobs and had our own unique experiences in the working world. But as students, with most of us preparing to practice public relations for the first time outside of our classroom walls, it was stressful and scary.
My four-year PR program requires students to complete two work terms; one during the summer after third year, and one during the second semester of fourth year. I’m currently completing my second internship, and the third years are about to begin their first. Looking back, there are definitely a few things I wish I knew last year that I know now, so I’m here to offer a few pieces of advice to my fellow students embarking on their first internship adventure.
1. There’s no such thing as a menial task
Let’s face it – as interns, we all have to do some grunt work. For me this meant cleaning up a 3000 contact media list. I spent weeks doing deep Google searches of journalists, bloggers, niche websites, and everything else in between, meticulously editing that excel spreadsheet to ensure that it was up to date. I didn’t realize it at the time, but with every contact I searched I became more and more familiar with the type of media The Agency works with and the industries that our clients work within. It was tedious work, but it paid off – I proved that I could conquer that not-so-glamorous challenge and in turn I was given greater responsibilities.
2. Ask questions
There’s no such thing as a silly question, and there’s no such thing as too many questions. An internship is your opportunity to learn and with that comes the ability to ask for help. Your manager and your team will be your greatest learning resource – your success is their success. So make sure you use them, whether it’s a question about how to format a press release, execute a client project, or properly attribute a photo for a blog. But remember this: always try to figure it out for yourself first. This shows initiative and problem-solving abilities.
3. Be open to everything
This sounds like an obvious one, but it’s something I cannot stress enough. Any opportunity you have to work on something you’ve never done before, take it. Your internship is your chance to experience everything you learned about in school, and then some. When I look back on my internship, I’m most thankful for the fact that I have been able to dabble in so many different areas – social media, pitching, ghostwriting… the list goes on. An internship is when you build the foundation for the rest of your career – seize every opportunity that comes your way.
So to those of you completing your internships and getting prepared to join the “real world,” congratulations! And for the students getting ready to start their first internships this summer, good luck and enjoy the ride.
What do you wish people had told you before you embarked on your first job in the PR world? Let us know in the comments below or on Twitter @PRTheAgency.