Having a mother in the public relations world, I was taught early on the importance of interning and working hard. While most of my friends spent their summers at the beach or working at sleepaway camps, I spent mine writing press releases and making media lists.
My mom was right. There is so much more to learn outside of the classroom, knowledge that cannot be taught by a professor or an advisor. With each of my experiences, I have been taught valuable lessons that I will keep with me for the rest of my life. And, I have met people who I know will have an impact on my future.
With five years of interning behind me, here are some helpful tips you can use about what it takes to be a PR intern.
- Start looking early – Compile a list of 10-15 agencies or companies that you are interested in working for. Send out a cover letter and resume in late January or early February for a summer internship.
- Follow-up every two weeks – My mom always tells me “Follow-up until they answer you.” I have found this to be very successful. Often companies are too busy to respond to internship emails and by following-up, it creates a better chance that the company will see your resume.
- Show up 10-15 minutes early for your interview and your first day – This shows you are prepared and prompt. The employer knows that he/she can rely on you. Sometimes, it also makes sense to show up everyday early. At a past internship, I found that I was able to create a better relationship with my supervisor, who then gave me more responsibilities as a result.
- Once at the job, always wear comfortable shoes – I made the mistake at an internship in NYC by wearing heels the first day. I was literally on my feet all day and by the time I got home that night, I had six blisters. I never made that mistake again. You also never know what you could be doing so comfortable shoes are always the way to go.
- Have good time management skills – Like the NYC mentality, the work-environment moves very quickly and often interns find it to be very intense. The intern needs to be prepared to work at a fast-pace without making mistakes. If an employer tells you to create a media list in one hour, it needs to be finished. Don’t get overwhelmed; make a list of what needs to get done. By doing each task one at a time and crossing it out when it’s complete, you won’t feel as stressed out.
- Be prepared to run errands – Whether it’s getting a coffee for your supervisor, bringing garment bags to Condé Nast or running around NYC trying to find fairy wings – running errands is part of the intern job description. But, it’s not always a bad thing. Think of it as the perfect opportunity to explore a new city.
- Don’t be afraid to ask questions – Your supervisors are there to help. If you have a question, it’s better to ask it than to make an error. They will appreciate that you asked and feel that you are interested in the work they are doing.
- Be prepared to do “REAL” work – Often in PR classes, students are taught theory, research techniques or writing skills. An internship will put all of your knowledge to the test. You’ll be asked to write press releases, blog posts or pitches, create media lists, press kits or press clips, etc. Don’t be nervous just use what you have learned, be creative and you will do great.
- Make connections – Not only talk to employees in the office, but keep in touch afterwards. Add them on LinkedIn. You never know when somebody can help you in your future. Write to past employers every few months, letting them know what you are doing.