I wouldn’t call myself an intern queen like Lauren Berger (who is awesome by the way). However, I did graduate with nine internships and with all my experience, I feel that I have a lot to share with public relations students. From PR/marketing agencies to healthcare, sports marketing and non-profit, here are my tips to having a great internship experience and leaving on a good note.
During the Internship
- Don’t forget to smile. Whether you’re greeting your supervisor in the morning or passing an employee in the hallway, look their way and share a smile.
- Always be positive and never complain. Intern work is not the most glamorous and often times, you’re not getting paid for your work. Thankfully, I never had to grab coffee or lunch for one of my coworkers. But if you do, accept the task with grace.
- Always walk into a meeting with pen and paper to take notes. I made the mistake of only taking down a few talking points during my first client meeting. I figured the head of the department was in charge of all the note-taking, but it turned out that she had expected me to be writing down just as much as she was even though it wasn’t voiced.
- Clarify projects. Always ask for clarification if you don’t understand what is being asked of you. Repeat the directions or details back to your coworker to ensure you’re both on the same page.
- Allow extra time to get to the office and prepare for the weather. I commuted 45 minutes via car from Oswego to Syracuse for one of my internships and thankfully the weather worked in my favor during the winter months. But you should be proactive in checking the weather, especially if it’s winter. If you’re going to be late, text your supervisor to let him/her know.
- Ask about the timelines of each project. You should always be aware of the turnaround time your supervisor is looking for.
- Ask for feedback on projects submitted. Many times, your supervisor will provide you with feedback. If not, ask how you could have improved on your work.
- Eat lunch with employees when possible and attend company functions. Making an effort to integrate yourself with others in the company can go a long way. I remember how anxious I was when I decided to attend a company summer party after only interning there for two weeks. But everyone was very welcoming and afterwards, I was proud of myself for putting myself out there.
- Attend internal professional development classes. Even if they don’t apply to your position, always take on an opportunity to learn new things and expand your knowledge.
- Make an effort to get to know people. If you have the opportunity, strike up conversations with employees around you. Not every conversation has to be about business.
- Limit phone usage and never use Facebook at work. You never know when your supervisor or someone on the executive team may walk by your desk. It’s not a good image to be texting your friends or scrolling through your social media feed when you have projects to be completed.
- Bring your AP book with you. This will come in handy when you’re writing press releases or other content for clients.
- Remember that every internship is worth the time, even if you hate it. Not only is it more credentials for your resume and another reference, but it’s also an opportunity to help you figure out your interests and what you do or don’t want to do.
- Be proactive. If you’re finished with your assigned tasks, ask your supervisor or those around you if they have any projects you could help with.
- Double check your work. This is where the expression “haste makes waste” comes into play.
Before Leaving the Office
- Ask for a letter of recommendation prior to your last day. This could be a week or two in advance.
- Make note of potential people to stay in contact with. I always emailed myself contact info of employees at the companies I wanted to stay in touch with. Some companies don’t showcase all employees’ email addresses on the website, so make sure to do this before you leave.
- Always keep your work samples from each internship. Whether you email them to yourself or put them on a thumb drive, make sure you have a copy. It may be wise to ask your employer if certain work samples are okay to use in your portfolio in case they have confidential clients.
After Your Internship
- Write thank you notes to the employees you worked closely with as well as the CEO of the company. It leaves a great last impression and goes a long way.
- Keep in contact with employees you established a relationship with. Whether it’s an update on what’s going on in your life or wishing them a happy holiday, stay in touch. Another great route is connecting with company employees on LinkedIn!