There’s really no way around it — most PR internships are tough. You might find yourself spending more time than you’d like changing the ink cartridges in the printers than doing actual high-level PR projects, but with a positive attitude and a good work ethic, you really can get quite a lot out of your PR internship. Sure, some opportunities are better than others, but there really is something you can learn from every experience.
Whether you’re about to start your very first PR internship or you’re embarking on what you hope will be your last, here are 7 tips that will help you rock your internship and get noticed.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions — At one time, we are all newbies. And the only ways to learn are from hands-on experience and by asking lots of questions. Rather than tackling a project without knowing what you’re doing, speak up and ask questions. An internship is all about learning; your employer knows that and expects you to ask questions. I also recommend carrying a small notepad with you or using your smart phone to take down questions as you think of them so you can ask later if need be.
Tackle every project with a positive attitude — There’s nothing worse than a whiny intern. You’re an intern, which means you’re at the bottom of the food chain. You’re going to be asked to do crappy projects that no one else wants to do. Deal with it. Accept all projects with a positive attitude, and do your best to rock every task you’re assigned. Even if it’s something simple like setting up the conference room for a meeting — doing an exceptional job can help you get noticed.
Don’t sit back and wait for work to be assigned…ask for it — Never sit back and assume it’s just a slow day at the office. If you don’t have a project to work on, ask for one. Find ways to offer your assistance to others in the office who might need it. Offer to take care of little tasks around the office that have been overlooked, such as cleaning the supply closet or updating media lists.
Try to worm your way into meetings — Sitting in on meetings can be a great way to learn about the business. You need to try your best to get your butt in a chair at the meetings. Offer to take notes, create the agenda, write the call report, etc. Not only will this help you learn, but it can put you in the right place at the right time to get assigned with more important tasks.
Dress for the job you want to have — Yes, you’re an intern, and as I said earlier, you’re at the bottom of the food chain. However, that doesn’t mean you should come into the office in flip-flops and a t-shirt, even if you’re allowed to do so. No one will take you seriously unless you dress in a manner that commands respect. Look professional at all times. You’ve probably heard the classic advice: don’t dress for the job you have; dress for the job you want to have. It’s true. Do it.
Embrace criticism as a learning opportunity — You’re going to make mistakes. People are going to give you feedback and criticism along the way. Don’t get your feelings hurt, even if they’re nasty about it. Instead, try not to take the criticism personally, but look at it as a learning tool so you can become better at what you do.
Find ways to create your own position — Looking to turn your internship into a full-time job once you’re out of school? Or maybe you just want to carve out your own niche as an intern so you get noticed? One of the things you can do is try to create your own position at the company. What I mean is this — find ways to help your company that they haven’t even thought of. For example, maybe they don’t yet have a social media team; you could spearhead that project and offer to be the one who creates the profiles and posts updates on the company’s social media profiles.
About to start your PR internship? Have a question? Ask us by leaving a comment below.