Intern Talk: How to Start Your Internship Right

School’s out for summer, and you’re ready to dive into (or may have already started!) a summer public relations internship. Start the experience right with these tips from current and former PRSSA members from across the country.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions
Starting a new internship can be intimidating, but you’re not expected to know everything about the company or the clients on the first day – so just ask. Christi Rich, 2013-2014 University of Alabama PRSSA Chapter president, suggests being curious and asking your supervisor and team members the right questions. “Expressing a genuine interest in learning shows your supervisor that you’re ambitious and ready to work hard for the summer,” Rich said.

Keep track of feedback
Once you’ve asked a question or received feedback from your supervisor, make sure to write it down to avoid making the same mistake twice or making a mistake at all. Lauren Frock, 2013-2014 University of North Texas PRSSA Chapter president, said, “It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the enormous amount of information covered during training, but taking detailed notes will give you something to refer back to when you’re further down the road.” Stay organized by purchasing a notebook or binder solely dedicated to internship notes.

Avoid being a ‘robot intern’
You want to make a great impression with your employers; however, don’t simply go through the motions. Claire Tonneson, former University of Oregon PRSSA Chapter president and internship coordinator at kglobal, suggests avoiding the trap of what she calls the ‘robot intern.’ “People want to work with people whom they genuinely like spending time with, so be warm, ask questions, and be memorable! Building a friendly and professional rapport with your employer will be much more valuable down the road,” Tonneson said.

Set goals for yourself
Whether it be meeting one new person in the office each day or improving your skills in a certain area, Helma von Zadow, PRSSA national vice president of professional development, suggests making goals during your internship. “I challenged myself to always use my time effectively. Often, I try to finish projects with good quality and before my supervisor needs them,” von Zadow said. Setting goals will keep you focused and productive throughout the summer.

Have a summer internship? How have you prepared? Share more tips in the comments below.

Intern Talk is a monthly guest column produced by Ellie Boggs, vice president of career services (follow her on Twitter @ellieboggs). The column covers various aspects of the public relations industry, giving PRSSA members the tools to secure internships and make the most of their professional experiences. For more career resources, visit the PRSSA Career Manual and Internship Center.

1 thought on “Intern Talk: How to Start Your Internship Right

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      As someone about to start a new internship in two weeks, I think this is excellent advice! In addition to keeping a record of feedback, I would also add that it’s helpful to keep a record of the projects you work on. This way at the end of the internship you remember exactly what you did and will be able to remember specific examples for the next job interview you have.

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