* For confidentiality purposes I am not going to talk about specific clients. I will write about things that I learn and share certain experiences that will help fellow or future interns. I hope you find this information helpful and possibly entertaining.
As I entered the building on my first day I was drawn to the catchy slogans and eye-grabbing décor. I didn’t quite know what to expect as I walked in at 8:14 a.m. Monday morning. I noticed that I was the only person there– I was 15 minutes early. So, I sat down in the waiting area trying to appear composed and self-assured, while in reality I was sweating bullets and was trying not to forget my advisors name. I usually don’t get nervous when meeting with people, but this was my first day as an actual public relations intern and I felt like this was going to be eight weeks of interviewing; in addition to making copies, answering the phone, making coffee, and editing. In this economy it is in your best interest to network like hell and work above and beyond the bare minimum, so people remember you and are willing to refer you, and if you’re lucky maybe they will even hire you.
The first week was a little slow. People were still getting used to the idea that they had someone they could push their tedious work onto. Week one was filled with media contact lists and sitting in on strategy meetings. I am not complaining, but I was getting nervous that they might not have work for me. Wrong! Week two came, and all of a sudden people where asking me to join meetings with new clients and write news releases about an upcoming grand opening. I was ecstatic! Then I had about 10 minutes to think about all the jobs I was given, and the amount of responsibility the agency was entrusting in me. I started to hyperventilate (not really, but my brain felt like it was). I completed a lot of research for new clients, which included looking into possibilities for special events, searching for potential sponsors, and brainstorming ideas for promotional event activities. Soon it was time to write the news release. I am confident in my ability to write a catchy news release, but this was not an assignment I could get back from my teacher and correct the suggested edits. I was told to write it and send it to the client for their comments. I went back to the basics and just started typing. I sent it to the client and to my surprise he loved it! My boss came up to the receptionist- who sits right next to me- and said: “We got a good one this time. I am going to use her for a lot of projects, she is talented!” Not to sound arrogant or pat myself on the back, but I have to give myself some credit. I passed the pop quiz and was now a trusted intern! You have to trust that you have the skills and be confident in your work; otherwise, they might regret hiring you.
Words of “Wisdom” from a fellow Intern
For the record, my daily tasks do not involving getting coffee, answering phones (mostly because I don’t know how) making copies or anything like that. This is a misconception, or at least it is at this agency. I actually do “work” for clients. I would suggest, to any of you who are interning while not getting paid and doing things like getting coffee, to talk with your advisor and ask for more challenging tasks. If they are not willing to help you I would question why they hired you as an intern. Interns are there to help the office but also to learn. This doesn’t mean if there is no coffee that you can’t make some, or if there are copies that need to be made you refuse to do them, I am just saying that if you are not given the chance to work on projects then you are not gaining any experience and are basically volunteering to be an assistant. Most places are more than willing to help; sometimes it might require you stepping up and asking for work. Internships can be scary, but if you don’t take full advantage of the opportunity you might miss out on a future job, or a great reference.
Lesson # 1
Do your research. To help in figuring out the writing style of both the agency I intern for and the client I went through the company files and read old releases and material. As an intern you need to be able to figure out basic tasks on your own. The advisors are busy and having an intern requires a little extra work on their part, so constantly asking questions is not a good idea. That is not to say that you should never ask for help; you are an intern for a reason, if you don’t know how to do something definitely ask someone for help. The advisors are more than willing to help; you just want to demonstrate that you can be an independent learner as well. Good luck and I would love to hear about other internship experiences.