Internships often serve as a starting point for your future career track. They aren't merely resume fillers – they are a necessity to show potential employers you have what it takes to excel in the real world. Many entry-level applicants are boasting one, two, maybe even three internships before acquiring a job. That being said, the number of internships has no relevance if you don’t make the most out of each experience.
If you take an internship simply to fulfill the required college credits, and robot your way through the hours, you will ultimately only be hurting yourself. The real world is daunting, so it’s important to prepare before being forced into the unknown.
Here are some ways to get the most out of an internship in the public relations arena:
Bill Nye the Science Guy once said, “everyone you will ever meet knows something you don’t.” In this case, your supervisor probably knows a lot of things you don’t. Asking questions is the quickest and most efficient way to learn from those who have come before you, and sat exactly where you sit now. When you ask questions it doesn’t only help you, but your supervisor may notice the extra effort you are expending to understand clients and how things are done.
Every agency/company operates differently so never be afraid to ask questions. It’s better to learn how to do something correctly than turn in sub-par work.
Take Every Opportunity to Meet New People
Landing that first job isn’t only about what you know; it’s also about who you know. Networking is imperative in public relations and you never know who you will run into down the road. Take opportunities to sit in on every conference call, off-site event, and client or company meeting you can. If you feel like you understand the topic, add valuable insight to the discussion as you might be able to share a different point of view. Outside of the office you can attend networking events for PR professionals put on by your local PRSA chapter. Local chapters host networking and informational events where you can meet communications professionals from all around your area. Of course, networking can be scary, so here are 10 tips from Inc. Magazine to help you prepare.
During PR internships it is important to develop meaningful relationships with your coworkers. Once the job search begins potential employers will contact them as references and you will need them on your side. When you reach a crossroads on your career path they will become your most valuable resource for answers to questions about where to look and what to consider. How respectable is the company? Do you know anyone who has worked there, or currently works there? How do they like it? Once you finally move on from the internship to begin your first job, don’t forget to thank everyone before you leave and make an earnest effort to keep in touch.
Just remember, it’s all about the extra effort. To get the most out of an internship you have to put in the effort. You get out what you put in.
About Richard Lawrence
Richard joined Trevelino/Keller as an account coordinator after moving to Atlanta from Jacksonville, Florida. He enjoys exploring the city and making the best out of every experience.