Getting the most from your internship

We get at least 3 intern applications a week.  Over the past 8 months or so this has delivered us a lot of experience reading application letters and resume’s, conducting intern interviews and managing interns in our office.   I thought it about time that we put some of these experiences and learning’s onto paper.

My past experience with internships across many disciplines is that generally applications are very well structured and written, the interns come on board, do the icky jobs ie: data entry, filing, sit in on the occasional brainstorm, get coffees and empty the bins.  The internship is part of the hours needed for uni study and the opportunities to make connections and build relationships simply don’t exist or are not seized by the intern.  However in communications, particularly with smaller niche’ agencies you can’t escape the reality that you will make connections.  How you turn these connections into relationships and make the most of opportunities is entirely up to you and your commitment and passion to the industry.

So a few do’s and don’ts that I recommend for interns are below to get you started on the right foot:

Set hours: try and negotiate with your agency or company a set number of hours and days per week, this will ensure that you get the best opportunity to be involved in as much learning and day to day operations as possible.  The more sporadic your attendance the less value you will get out of your internship.

Phone calls: Generally any employer will understand that you are undertaking this internship along with full time uni commitments and part time paid work and understand that you may not be able to make it into work one day or you may have to leave early.  However I have noticed a rise in the level of emails and text messaging that is used to advise of such situations.  Picking up the phone or communicating in person with your employer or intern manager is the only appropriate way to discuss working hours and attendance.

Knowledge base: The purpose of undertaking an internship is to learn, learn and learn.  To put everything you learnt at uni into practise but we do expect you to arrive at an interview with some level of knowledge of what PR and communications means and involves.  Seems like a silly piece of advice huh? Believe me we get a lot of interns who cannot articulate what PR is and why they want experience in the industry.  Google it, read your text books, have a basic understanding.  This is potentially your career and you should be prepared with some background knowledge, and then by all means continue to ask as many questions as you possibly can, all day, every day.

Be honest: Interns have many and varied motivations for undertaking an internship. If it is to get a kickstart to your career as a publicist that is wonderful, but if it is also to get an idea of the PR industry even though you have studied journalism or because you are only one year into your degree and you want to make sure you are heading on the right career path be honest with your employer.  Likewise if you are interested in corporate communications or fashion PR, tell your employer as this will allow them to structure your program and experience to deliver you the best experience.

Please comment with anything else have you learned from your internships or interns that you’d like to share?  We have a lot of interns read our site and I’m sure they will take value from it.

Suzzie Harvey – Account Manager

One response to “Getting the most from your internship

  1. Ambre Harford Birkett

    These are fab tips, I wish there was someone telling me this in my first year! I would add feedback… Always ask for feedback from your mentors so you can continue to improve and grow with your research and writing skills!

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