An internship can be a great way to get your foot in the door in the PR industry and to learn a lot that will help you throughout your career, but if you don’t take the right approach to your internship, it can also be a sure-fire way to ruin your reputation and to kill your career before it even gets off the ground.
Make no mistake—you’re going to make mistakes along the way. And that’s perfectly okay. That’s what being an intern is about. You’re learning; people expect you to screw things up now and again. No sweat. But honest mistakes coming from a hardworking intern are one thing; the following mistakes are ones you simply cannot afford to make.
Acting like you’re above lowly tasks—As an intern, you’re going to have to do a lot of boring, lowly tasks. You’re not going to get the exciting projects right out of the gate. Your boss wants to see that you are dependable and have a good work ethic before he or she will hand you more interesting work.
Dressing unprofessionally—Dress for the job you want to have, not the job you have. If you come in dressed like a casual student, no one will take you seriously. Pay attention to how the true professionals in the office dress and try to mirror that in your own dress.
Talking bad about others in the office—No one likes the office gossip, especially when he or she is an intern. Keep your mouth shut, and respect everyone around you. Not to be too harsh, but you’re the lowest person on the totem pole, and you’ll never gain respect by talking bad about others in the office.
Not thanking the people who help you—A lot of people are going to take time to help you as an intern. It might be a co-worker showing you how to do something, your boss offering feedback that helps you be better at your job, or someone giving you a recommendation for a career opportunity. No matter what the situation, always offer a heartfelt thank you. You want to show everyone just how appreciative you are for their help.
Not learning and getting better—Internships are learning experiences, but you have to be committed to actually learning and refining your skills. I recommend always having a pen and notepad on you so that you can take notes and avoid asking the same questions or making the same mistakes over and over again. Write everything down. You never know when that information will come in handy. If you’re committed to bettering yourself every day, your skills WILL improve, and that’s all anyone can ask from an intern.
PR pros—what mistakes did you make during your internship? Share your experiences by commenting below.