By Rachel Pastor
So, you’ve landed an internship in public relations. Congratulations! If you’re like me, you’re probably feeling excited to jump into the “real world,” nervous for what will be thrown at you, and unsure how much of your personality you should reveal. At least that’s how I felt before my first day at Taft.
Fast forward a year, and I couldn’t have landed in a better place to learn the ins and outs of the communications world. Through my internship experience supporting clients in healthcare, education, and the environment — on an equal playing field with everyone in the office — my time at Taft has helped me grow as a PR professional.
Here are the most important things I learned, and five tips to help you have a successful internship, too:
1. Manage your time and stay organized.
Interns at PR agencies usually work on many projects across a variety of clients, especially in a small but fast-paced office. The good news: You’ll be exposed to almost every type of project. The bad news? You can’t clone yourself (yet). Keep personal to-do lists and track your time. Rank projects by priority, then estimate how much time you need to complete each one. Organize your day accordingly. If you’re unsure where priorities should be, always ask!
Like everyone else in the office, interns are busy. Show that you are willing and capable of handling multiple projects without taking on too much at one time but inquire about flexible deadlines. Maybe one project can be pushed to the next week. Once you start saying no, you limit your opportunities to work on exciting projects.
It is easy to fall into the mentality of “I’m only here for a few months.” If you treat your internship like a temporary job, it will reflect in your work. Act like everything you do counts towards your long-term career, because it does. The experience you gain counts. If you go the extra mile, it will pay off.
Every colleague is a future boss or possible reference, so you want to make a good impression. Being personable is the key to expanding upon good work and impressive skills. Do not lean on impersonal professionalism. Get to know your colleagues: Ask them to grab lunch one day or take a coffee break and make casual conversation in addition to client-based conversations. It creates strong connections and promotes a healthy, pleasant work environment.
5. Speak up.
The biggest mistake you can make in your internship is not valuing your own ideas. You bring a fresh perspective and have your own unique viewpoint — share it. Not every idea will be used and sometimes your idea might not make sense for that particular client, but that’s an integral part of your learning experience. Let your boss know that you want to contribute to projects. They will appreciate your input, and it prompts them to include you in further conversations. You never know: Your idea might be exactly what the client needs.
Interested in joining team Taft? Learn more about our internship opportunities.