Whether you’re an established professional or a new grad, there is one common experience nearly all of us will at some point go through as we make our way through the world of public relations: an internship. If you’ve yet to experience your first internship, or if you’re in the midst of one right now, take it from a former fellow intern, this is one of the best opportunities you’ll have as a young professional to learn the ropes as you head out into the real world.
Here are five of my top tips on how level up and make the most of your next internship:
Find a mentor
Being an intern doesn’t mean you have to do it all on your own. This is your chance to learn and build a foundation for your skills, and the best way to do that is by following a great example. Some companies will provide their interns with mentors, but in the event that you aren’t given one by your employer, take the initiative to seek one out. Whether it’s someone you work with – your boss, a senior peer, etc. – or someone outside of the office, keep a sharp eye out for someone in your professional circle who you feel you can learn from. Connect with them on a regular basis, ask questions and seek advice where you need it.
Attention to detail
This may seem like a given, but this is a skill that can really give you an edge in a professional setting. Be proactive, go above and beyond what is asked of you and don’t brush the small things aside. People notice when things fall through the cracks, but they notice even more when everything flows smoothly because you’ve taken the time to take care of the details.
Take advantage of the opportunities that you are provided with during your internship, but don’t be afraid to ask for more. If there’s something in particular you’d like to have the chance to take a stab at, let your team know. Keep your eyes and ears open for projects you’d like to be part of or deliverables you’d like to take first draft at. The answer might not always be yes but by voicing your interest, you’ll make your coworkers aware that they can come to you the next time something similar comes along.
Be proactive and look for ways to add value to your workplace. Keep an eye out for gaps, inefficiencies, potential new clients, opportunities for growth or expansion – it doesn’t matter what it is, as long as you’re taking initiative and showing how you can make things better, faster, stronger (to quote Kanye West). Your two jobs as an intern are to learn as much as you can and to support your team. If you can make your teammates’ jobs easier, you’re doing it right.
Don’t live in passivity because of your ‘intern status’. You are a valuable part of your team and so don’t be afraid to (respectfully) share your ideas and thoughts with your coworkers. Your feedback is important and appreciated when it’s delivered appropriately and professionally. And if you like what you’re doing, make it known that you’d like to stay on or extend your internship. Employers aren’t mind readers. They need to see that you’re engaged, invested and interested in being a longer term part of the team.
– Erica Morgan is an Account Specialist at Brookline Public Relations. She brings experience in the areas of event management, social media strategy and media relations.