Dos and Don’ts of Summer Internships

Internships are a crucial part of your academic career, especially for PR students. Paving the way for future opportunities and providing hands-on experience, an internship is the best way to prepare for life after graduation. Like many college students, I’m spending the summer at the office instead of the beach–but it’s worth it! In my first month at The Zimmerman Agency, a nationally recognized full-service firm, I’ve gained more knowledge than coursework could ever provide. While I still have a lot to learn, I’ve compiled six tips that are sure to lead to success.

Do get to know the other interns
Not only are other interns great resources for questions about assignments or tricky media databases, but forming friendships make work fun! Plus, relationships are everything in PR. You may not realize it now, but your fellow interns will soon be your colleagues. Whether they know a journalist you need to pitch or work in a sector you’re curious about, these professional relationships will prove to be beneficial.

Don’t wait around for an assignment
Finished the day’s to-do list? Instead of waiting for another assignment while scrolling through Twitter, ask around the office for additional work. Volunteer for everything–even mundane tasks like sifting through magazines or organizing paperwork. Showing initiative not only builds trust, but proves you can meet the demands of a full-time job.

Do keep an intern journal
After work, I like to reflect on the projects I worked on by jotting down a few notes. Recording day-to-day activities will come in handy when updating your resume, and the journal is a helpful tool for job interview prep. I include critiques, like breaking an AP Style golden rule, to ensure I don’t make the same mistake.

Don’t leave without checking in with your team
It’s 4:59 on a Friday and Happy Hour awaits. But don’t rush out of the door before asking your supervisors if they need help with anything. Side note: never go home without completing your to-do list, even if you have to stay a bit later. Treat your internship like a full-time job, and it could turn into one!

Do research your clients
Know everything there is to know about the accounts you work on–follow their social media, set up Google Alerts and familiarize yourself with their website. Not only will this help you discover the clients’ needs, but full-service agencies like Zimmerman also handle social media and web design, so it’s a great way to see what the firm is doing. You should also research the agency’s other clients, even if you don’t directly work on those.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions
If an email pitch leaves you stumped or you’re confused about a project, ask! It’s better to seek clarification early than mess up later on, especially when the deadline is looming. That being said, exhaust all resources before going to your supervisor. Ask another intern or do a quick Google search – let your problem-solving skills shine! Kate Finley, CEO of Belle Communications, puts it perfectly: “Be quick to think and slow to ask.”

What are your tips for summer interns? Let me know in the comments!


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