InternTalk: How to Ask for More Responsibility in Your Internship

In the past, July to me was synonymous with Independence Day and trips to the beach. But now that I have interned for five consecutive summers, the month has taken a  different meaning.

July is the perfect time to put the skills you’ve learned to the test and make a bigger impact on your organization because it is typically the last month of most college internships.

Adam Piccin with Gavin DeGraw.
Adam Piccin with Gavin DeGraw.

Even though there are many ways to learn from the experience and make an impact on your organization, I recommend asking for more responsibilities during the last month of interning. Not only will you show initiative, but you will have the chance to ask your supervisor for tasks that specifically interest you.

Amy E. Douglas, APR, marketing director for University of Florida Performing Arts, said in an email that the last month of an internship is typically where students learn the most.

“By this point you’ve learned the ‘ins and outs’ of the organization with whom you’re interning,” she said, “and you should be comfortable with what you’re doing.”

Here’s how to go about asking for more responsibilities on your last month of internship:

Make sure you’ve completed, and excelled at, your assigned tasks.

Before asking your supervisor for more responsibilities, make sure you’ve gone above and beyond in completing your previous tasks. Douglas emphasized that unless you’ve met every deadline and fulfilled every promise, a request for more responsibility “is likely to receive a frosty reception.”

Have certain assigned tasks in mind, and don’t be afraid to ask for them. 

Adam Piccin, immediate past president of Otterbein University's Chapter of PRSSA, served as programs manager for the LC Summer Bash & Fireworks in Lewis Center, Ohio. He got the position simply by reaching out to the Lewis Center Business Association to see if they needed any public relations and marketing help with the event and ended up in one of three main leadership roles of the festival, fireworks and concert featuring multi-platinum recording artist, Gavin DeGraw."
Adam Piccin, immediate past president of Otterbein University’s Chapter of PRSSA, served as programs manager for the LC Summer Bash & Fireworks in Lewis Center, Ohio. He got the position simply by reaching out to the Lewis Center Business Association to see if they needed any public relations and marketing help with the event and ended up in one of three main leadership roles of the festival, fireworks and concert featuring multi-platinum recording artist, Gavin DeGraw.”

If your department is working on a project you’d like to take part in, your last month of interning is the perfect time to bring that up to your supervisor.

 “Be prepared to explain why you want to work on the project,” Douglas said. “For example, it will help you fulfill a career goal, or you’ve learned about it in the classroom but want concrete experience.”

Communicate with your supervisor if you have any questions or concerns.

While working autonomously on your extra responsibilities is important, don’t be afraid to ask your supervisor any questions that you can’t figure out on your own. It’s also important to let your supervisor know of any unexpected roadblocks.

 “Nothing is more disappointing than green-lighting an intern’s project and never seeing it come to fruition,” Douglas said.

 And if your supervisor denies your request for more responsibilities, ask to set up a time for a formal review to discuss areas of improvement.

 A supervisor can deny a request for more responsibilities for a variety of reasons so don’t feel discouraged if he or she doesn’t give you the “OK” right away for more tasks. Asking him or her for a review is a great way to show your supervisor that you’d like to grow as a professional even if there are no other tasks on which they could use your help.

“Intern Talk” is a guest column produced by Veronica Mingrone, 2015–2016 vice president of career services. 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.

Veronica is a senior public relations major at the University of Florida. Follow Veronica on Twitter @veronica_min or connect with her on LinkedIn.

 

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