Tips For A Successful Internship

I had the opportunity to ask Heather Crowley, recruitment specialist for Edelman in Chicago, some questions about how to be successful in a summer internship. At Edelman, she is responsible for recruiting interns and entry level employees, so she has seen her fair share of good interns. Her tips and advice are below:

What are some of the top traits for successful interns?

It is important for interns to have initiative and to own the projects and assignments given to them. Interns should also bring questions to the table. Remember you are in the communications industry,  so this is key – always have your team and supervisor updated on projects and your responsibilities. Recruiters and teams also look for candidates with strong writing skills and past internships in the PR industry.

How can interns make the most of their experience?

First, it is important that your work is being completed at the best quality possible. Interns should utilize the internal programs that are offered by his/her company: internal educational tools, company committees or volunteer opportunities, mentorship and reverse mentorship programs. Be sure to also utilize this experience as a time to network within the organization and across practice areas. While you are working on projects with your own team members and supervisors, don’t be afraid to reach out to other individuals in the organization to have informational conversations. Don’t be afraid of feedback, as this is an opportunity for you to grow. Be sure to meet regularly with your supervisor and ask for feedback to improve upon your skills.

How should an intern approach a problem?

Having open communication with your supervisor and HR representative is a key to solving a problem. Your manager will be able to help you troubleshoot the issue and may be able to bring in others to assist to ensure a thorough solution is found.

How can interns stay in touch with the company and the employees after an internship?

Save business cards and contact information. Be sure to have everyone’s updated information prior to leaving and touch base every few months to ensure the relationships continue to grow. Networking is key. Use sites such as LinkedIn to stay in touch.

How can the intern keep track of his or her progress?

Utilize the company tools that they have provided you and use your initiative. At Edelman we have intern reviews and encourage regular meetings with supervisors to ensure managers and interns are communicating frequently. We also encourage interns and supervisors to set goals in the beginning to ensure the intern has a benchmark to look to during the regular meetings and reviews throughout the internship. It’s a fast-paced environment, so be sure to use your initiative to keep your meetings and reviews with your managers/supervisors on schedule.

What are the most common mistakes interns make? Is there any way to avoid them?

Not being proactive. Don’t hide. Make the right impression with your team and engage them.

If there are no openings for full time positions in the company at the end of the internship, is it OK to ask for help in finding another job?

This is where the networking skills kick in. The connections you’ve made during your program and the references you’ve built by having a successful internship can help you locate your next opportunity. Do not be afraid to ask colleagues and recruiters to share your information with their own network.

Any other advice?

The time, dedication and initiative you bring to the table can help you create a career for yourself and each person you meet is another individual you are creating a link to. Remember to always put your best effort forth and your hard work will pay off in the end, with great experience and colleagues you can tap into for a lifetime.

More tips for success in your internship

There are many more things to say about finding success in an internship, so here are some great people to connect with and learn from:

  • Angela Hernandez, Chapter President at Central Michigan University, wrote about making follow up calls. Check it out here.
  • Chuck Merydith wrote for Ron Culp’s blog, Culpwrit, on 10 tips for a successful agency internship. Check out the post here.
  • During your internship, find a mentor and use the relationship to your advantage. Ryan McShane, a past National Committee member, writes about how to find the right mentor.
  • Do you know how to write a really good press release? Jeremy Porter does, and here are his tips on how you can write a better press release.

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