Internships are a learning experience. At the end of the semester, you want to be able to walk away with a list of things you have learned about your major and about the professional environment.
These are the top five tips and tricks that have stuck with me during my internship:
“There is (almost) always an answer on the Internet.”
When you don’t know something, finding the answer often is really as simple as using Google. It’s an amazing resource that we sometimes forget about or take for granted. You can easily find a lot of information to support your ideas and thoughts.
You can also use social networking sites like Twitter, YouTube, and Facebook as tools to help you do research and establish relationships with journalists.
For example, after a few months of tweeting at my town’s mayor, I was able to get in contact with him about a national childhood obesity PR campaign I am working on for school. After researching some things he and my town have done for childhood obesity, he seemed like a great fit to help out with the campaign. He already knew who I was over Twitter, so he was more apt to help me.
“No question is a stupid question.”
I’ve found through my three internship experiences that asking questions is the biggest key to learning. To avoid doing a project by trial and error, speak up and ask, “How do I do this?”
An internship experience is supposed to benefit you and your employer (which means they really do want to help you). You are the future of PR, and you are interning to learn the ways of the industry. One day, you will be answering an intern’s questions.
“No day will be the same.”
This is something I’ve heard nearly everyone in PR say, but I never fully understood what it meant until I was an intern, fully immersed in the PR world. You never know when a client will call, what news will break, or even when your computer decides to delete that pitch you’ve spent three days working on.
To be prepared and deal easily with anything, you must be on your toes and have an open mind. I am a huge fan of to-do lists and keeping track of everything that is going on, so if something does happen, you still know what your priorities are and where you left off.
“If you think something is taking you too long to do, then it probably is.”
This piece of advice has saved me a lot of time. When you are trying to get something done and you have the feeling that you could be doing it quicker, nine times out of 10 there is a quicker way to do it.
Whether they have been in PR for one year or 20 years, your employers know what works and what doesn’t. They can and will help you turn a two-hour problem into a five-second solution. I know everyone in my office uses one another as a support system for questions or proofreading, and we help each other use industry resources more efficiently.
As I said, the people you work with are there to help you and want you to learn from them.
“You aren’t saving the world.”
I need to constantly remind myself of this advice that my academic adviser repeats all the time. As a senior in college, an intern, president of the Seton Hall PRSSA chapter, a member of the PRSSA National Bateman Campaign Competition team, and more, I go 100 mph all day, every day. It’s easy to get caught up in the problems of work, homework, and life itself.
It’s helpful to keep in mind that everything will work itself out. You aren’t trying to save the world. You will meet all your deadlines at your internship, you will finish the paper that’s due—you will be OK.
Your professors, advisers, and even your employers are here to help you. Use them as a lifeline and keep them informed. If you need your boss to just sit down for a second and help you sort through the 15 emails that just came through, they will do that. They have all been in your shoes, and they can help you get through it.
Public relations is a fast-paced, fun environment, and an internship is your first step to figuring it all out. These pieces of advice have not only carried me through my internships, but they have helped me in my academic and personal lives as well.
As an intern, you are supposed to learn and grow every day. You are going to make mistakes, but that’s what an internship is for: to help you to become a future PR superstar.
Ashley Manz is an intern at Beckerman, one of the industry’s 10 fastest-growing public relations agencies whose subsidiary, Antenna Group Inc., is the nation’s leading cleantech public relations firm. Beckerman’s primary practice areas include real estate, public affairs, professional services, and consumer. A senior at Seton Hall University, Ashley will graduate in May with a bachelor’s degree in public relations. Follow her on Twitter @ashleycrd. A version of this story first appeared on the BeckermanVoices blog.