Strategies for Success as a Communications Intern

Prior internship experience is often becoming an expectation for those entering the workforce. Internships, companies recognize, are opportunities for a person to get a “feel” for the work and develop necessary skills. This is especially true in the field of communications.

Aware of this expectation and ready to get my feet wet, I applied for an internship with public relations firm Hager Sharp in the spring of 2011. I was first introduced to the company when its president and CEO, Garry Curtis, guest lectured one of my college courses. Taking advantage of this opportunity, I introduced myself and followed up by submitting my resume and cover  letter for consideration—and to my great excitement, I found myself joining the Hager Sharp family two months later.

The variety and pace of my work is greater than I have experienced at past internships. On an average day, I might participate in a strategic brainstorm, create media lists and pitch news outlets, manage a national database of health educators, and monitor the media for news relevant to our projects and clients. Consequently, I have needed to develop more effective work habits and refine professional skills such as writing, editing, prioritizing and working diligently with a group.

Outlined below are key lessons I’ve learned through my experience at Hager Sharp—lessons that can serve as strategies for success for anyone starting (or hoping to start) a communications or public relations internship.

  • Utilize your resources to find an internship- and feel more prepared as you enter the communications field. Many professors and administrators have contacts with firms and can help connect you with their internship coordinators. Your professors may also have experience in the field, so hearing their recommendations and stories will give your insight into the work you are about to begin.
  • When opportunity knocks, answer! If you come across a person who you’d like to connect with later, whether about a potential job or an information interview, introduce yourself. You will be more memorable if you take initiative and seem interested in his or her work. Don’t forget to get a business card and follow up.
  • Stay organized. To work in the communications field means to work in a fast-paced environment with evolving projects and quick deadlines. Find a system that works for you, such as keeping to-do lists, to make sure you stay on track and no assignment is forgotten. And the old saying is true—a clear desk is a clear mind.
  • Communication is key. During your internship, you likely will need to work closely with a team. To do so successfully, you may be able to present your ideas clearly and approach your team members with questions or for help when necessary.
  • Be flexible and able to think on your feet. Interruptions are to be expected in this fast-paced environment. Changing deadlines or client needs will require you to adjust your schedule and to-do lists and quickly prioritize.
  • Learn and contribute—even as an intern, don’t shy away from offering ideas—this is a big part of why you were hired. You are there to learn and support your team, but also offer a new perspective with fresh ideas that can be of huge benefit to the work.
  • Know the goal. Understanding the mission and goals of the firm or project you are working on is important. This will make you more comfortable talking with outsiders about your job and the product or idea you’re pitching. Plus, it will make you more able to recognize and capitalize on partnership opportunities that cross your path outside of the firm.


The range of projects I have worked on and the responsibility I have been able to assume while at Hager Sharp have expanded my horizons about communications and granted me the opportunity to develop the tools necessary to survive in a communications firm. I hope these tips help you reach success as you begin your path.

About the blogger

This is a guest blog post by Jenna Boyer, an account coordinator at Hager Sharp Inc., a public relations firm in Washington, DC. IN her role, Boyer supports a variety of clients and assists with social media, graphic design, materials development, media outreach, technical assistance and exhibiting. Boyer received a Bachelor of Arts in media studies and a minor in Spanish from the Catholic University of America.


[highlight]What different strategies have you learned at your internship? Share them with us.[/highlight]

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