51 Tips for a Successful Internship

 

Good internships are difficult to get your hands on and once you’ve secured one, it’s important to make the most of your short time in the company.

Whether you need help with interviews, networking with your new colleagues or advice on expanding your workload, take a look at these tips to make sure you can be selected for and take advantage of a brilliant internship opportunity.

Applying

1. Check the websites of companies you are interested in.

2. It’s also a good idea to register with a few of the many internship agencies that can be found online.

3. Use any contacts you already have to find out about vacancies.

4. Don’t be afraid to send speculative applications to companies you’re interested in.

5. Once you’ve found or been sent an opportunity that you’re interested in, take a look at the day-to-day tasks and development opportunities to ensure it will meet your requirements.

6. The next step is to send your CV to the company in an attempt to secure an interview.

7. Make sure your CV is professional and tailored for the job you’re applying for.

8. Ensure you ask someone to proofread your CV – spelling mistakes are likely to lose you a job opportunity despite any relevant experience you may already have.

9. If you’re still at university you may have access to a careers service that can help you put your CV together.

The Interview

10. Make sure you dress accordingly. If you’re not sure on the office culture, go smart.

11. Be polite at all times, saying please and thank-you goes a long way!

12. Prepare a few questions for your interviewer to show how interested you are in the company.

13. Re-visit the original advert for the interview to see the key qualities the interviewer will be looking for. This will enable you to pre-empt questions.

Preparation

It’s important to make sure you are well prepared for the first day.

14. Read up on the company you’ll be working for.

15. If it’s a small company, the website will often give short bios of senior members of staff and descriptions of departments. Check their latest press-releases and research the company using online search engines.

16. Try to find out the dress code through website images or contacts you already have.

17. Spend time thinking about what your main objectives are for the internship and how you’ll achieve them.

18. If you want to be offered a permanent role, treat the internship like a long interview and strive to appear innovative and useful to the company.

19. If you just want an introduction to the industry, focus on networking and building a list of contacts.

First Day

20. It’s important to remember that the first day, and probably the first week, will be a shock to the system!

21. Being new in the office is always tough but as long as you focus on working hard and being polite, you will soon fit into the team.

22. On your first day, use your introductory meeting with your supervisor to agree  the focus of your internship and the opportunities you’ll be given.

23. Try and go for coffee or have short meetings with the people you will be coming into contact with – this not only helps you to feel at home but will give others the perception that you are approachable and eager to learn from them.

24. Attend as many meetings as possible to get exposure to the right people and issues.

During Your Internship

25. Don’t be afraid to ask as many questions as you need to – it’s always better to ask how to do something instead of doing it wrong.

26. Always ask for honest feedback from your colleagues and supervisor. You’re in an internship to learn; asking others to offer advice on your development points will help you to improve.

27. Be polite to everyone you work with. You never know what you might need from them next week!

28. Keep hard copies of feedback you receive and good work you do as an intern. It will be useful to return to once the internship is over.

29. Always take notes when you’re given instructions – it will help to prevent silly mistakes.

30. Don’t be downhearted if you feel some of the work you’re given is below your intelligence level. You still have to prove yourself and maintaining a good attitude at all times is important.

31. Be innovative. Look for opportunities to prove yourself as a useful asset to the company; this could be by designing a social networking page or reorganising the filing system.

32. If you can get 15 minutes of time with someone senior, produce a short presentation to show them an idea you have for the company.

What If It Goes Wrong?

33. One such issue could be that you are stuck carrying out menial tasks without any opportunity to get involved in interesting projects. If this is the case for you, make it clear to your supervisor that you are happy to carry on with the work you have been given but that you have spare capacity to help out with more challenging work.

34. Or alternatively, suggest projects you can be involved in.

35. If you’re trapped at your desk with no chance of networking, create your own opportunities by setting up meetings with people outside your team or management chain.

36. If it becomes clear early in your internship that no interns are ever offered permanent roles at the company, endeavour to ask senior staff why this is the case. The fact that you are attempting to rectify the situation will stand you out from others.

37. Making a mistake during an internship can feel devastating but everyone makes mistakes at work at some point in their career. If you do something wrong, notify your supervisor immediately and make it clear that you would like to solve the problem yourself. Owning up to your downfalls will make you are more reliable colleague and employee.

Before Your Internship Ends

38. Book exit meetings with your supervisor and key contacts.

39. Get a written reference listing your achievements and take contact details of anyone you think could help you in your future career.

40. Ensure you thank colleagues who have offered time and advice.

41. Don’t forget to take a few cakes in for your last day in the office! Everybody loves cake.

42. The most important objective for your last few days is to ask for feedback covering your whole internship and learning points that can help you develop in the future.

43. Don’t ignore this feedback – use it to consider how you work in your next role and to book onto courses that will help you to develop.

Follow Up

44. Make sure you write your own report of your internship, it will jog your memory if you need to think of useful experiences at work as examples for interviews in the future.

45. If there was someone particularly inspiring that you met during your placement, keep in contact with them and ask them to be your mentor.

46. Keep in touch with other members of the team by email and ask them to let you know of any job opportunities or freelance work that might be coming up.

47. Also, use your contacts to keep your finger on the pulse of your chosen industry – this can be difficult once you return to the world of study or a job outside the area you’re aiming for.

48. If possible, ask your supervisor for a written report that can be used as a quick job reference in the future.

And Finally…

49. The most important tip is that you should never give up. Internships can be tough, especially for people who have not previously worked in an office.

50. If you have an issue, don’t be afraid to ask for advice from colleagues, your supervisor and others outside work.

51. Try to relax and remain professional whilst milking your internship for all the development opportunities it offers.  View your internship as a vocational learning experience.

About the Author:
Patrick Ross is a blogger who focuses his articles on young adults who are entering new careers. If you are interested in a career in PR and are considering an internship you might want to check out this blog, PR internships, which includes other articles from Patrick and other bloggers like himself.

 

 

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The Benefits of Working on Political Campaigns for Entry-Level PR Pros

Though the unemployment rate has fallen to its lowest levels since early 2009, the job market is still inundated with seasoned professionals. This has made it a little more difficult for PR graduates on the employment front, especially in public relations where many entry-level positions require at least two years of experience. But one thing I’ve found that has helped me stand out in the industry was working on a political campaign.

 

In 2007, I started my master’s degree in communications and, one year later, took an internship with a PR firm. Waste deep into the internship, the 2008 presidential elections were well under way and one of my mentors came to me and asked if I’d be interested in working on the campaign trail. At first, I didn’t know what to say. I had no experience in politics and wasn’t sure where it might take me. Before I could answer, my mentor told me to take the job; that it would greatly impact my future.

Turns out, he was right.

It’s almost four years later and I have seen the inside of the Pentagon, worked for cabinet-level members, written speeches for Congresswomen and had various opportunities to work on great initiatives in the private sector. I credit my campaign experience and the support of my mentors as being the main reasons why I have had such a fruitful career path thus far.

So, if you’re willing to put in long hours for little pay – familiar conditions in the entry-level PR world – in order to gain experience and bolster your resume, then you might want to consider joining this year’s campaign trail. Here are some additional, important reasons as to why working on a political campaign can be an asset for young PR pros:

1. You’ll Gain a Wealth of Knowledge: Companies often specialize in specific fields. On a campaign, you gain knowledge on the facts of virtually every industry in the U.S., from agriculture, to defense, to education policy to finance. This position’s you to be able to work in various industries and not be pigeonholed down the road.

2. Get Hands-On Experience: Some companies like to keep the interns in the background, whereas campaigns need all the help they can get. On short notice, I was asked to staff a press event for a campaign surrogate, which I had never done before. As my supervisor at the time said, “The best way to learn is to learn on the job, so hit the ground running!”

3. Learn How to Deal with Fast-Pace Environments: With campaigns being so public and high-profile, you are pushed to another level of working under pressure – something that all PR pros need to become comfortable with. When you’re writing a press release with facts and figures associated with your candidate, there is no room, or time, to make mistakes. On a campaign, you quickly learn how to write a sound article under pressure, and with tight deadlines.

4. Experience Different Events: On a campaign, you are constantly on your feet and running around. Whether it’s a student rally or a press event, there are dozens of opportunities you need to get coverage on. The campaign will work your judgment-making skills to the max, helping you to become better at spotting media opportunities. You’ve got to strike while the iron is hot!

5. Grow Thick Skin: Working on a campaign brings a whole new meaning to the word “deadline.” Your director, the reporters and your campaign mates are all strung out on coffee and sleepless nights. There is no time but to get to the point. When I first started out in PR, I took forever getting to the point when pitching to reporters. I took it personally when they hung up on me or when my director grew impatient. Working on the campaign helped me grow thicker skin and a quicker mind.

6. Become Prepared on All Fronts: PR Pros should be able to see every angle to a story, both good and bad, both weak and strong. This is especially true in politics. Working with the press on a campaign teaches you to not only pay attention to your own side of the argument, but challenges you to understand your competitors sometimes better than you understand yourself. You have to always be prepared and be one step ahead of your competition. Be clever, savvy and a fact-checking machine.

7. End up a Pitching Machine: On the campaign, you are exposed to local, national and sometimes international media. With each early morning that you spend clipping news articles, you start to become well-read on not just domestic issues, but on communities and people throughout the U.S. and the world. This teaches you to learn the various styles of reporters and how to speak to them in their language. When a client seeks your advice on where they can place their story, you’ll be prepared to give them several of the best options.

8. Networking Opportunities are Everywhere: As the saying goes: “It’s not what you know; it’s who you know that matters.” Though I still like to stress that always being open to learning new things and honing your skills is key in maintaining a successful career, make no mistake that making connections with lots of different people can also open doors for you. This is especially true on campaigns.

At the end of the day, regardless of the career path you choose, always make sure you do something that you are passionate about. If you find yourself staring down an unfamiliar path, believe in yourself and take a leap. You’d be surprised at how far just one opportunity can take you.

About the Author
A South Florida native, Jacqueline Ortiz Ramsay is an alumnus of the Florida State University and worked on the 2008 Obama/Biden presidential campaign in North Florida. She has also worked at the U.S. Department of Defense as a Communications Specialist and was politically appointed at the U.S. Department of Justice. Passionate about multicultural communications, she recently joined a private firm and travels between Florida and Washington, D.C., to work on public policy and Hispanic Affairs initiatives. Follow her on Twitter: @JacquelineO_PR.

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Secrets to Getting your Dream PR Job in 2012

PR concerns enhancing and maintaining the image of a business, event or high-profiled person.

Yes, that is sexy – which is why you strive to reach that dream job in PR.

A few weeks ago, PR at Sunrise published an article – “Do PR Students and Pros Want to Work In-House or at an Agency” – so I thought it would be a good time to share some advice on how to get that job you are looking for.

1. Know someone at an agency where you are just dying to work at? Spruce up that resume, network like no other and show your brand and worth. Reach out to your network, especially to someone who also receives an incentive for referring you! Pull together your own case studies and present them in a format that will turn the eye of even the most weathered HR professional.

2. Don’t just demonstrate that you know or understand a company’s culture and core values. Be ready to show that you are indeed a great fit for the company and how you both can be beneficial to each other. If you are reaching out to an in-house position, be sure to show how your experience in agency life can be a plus for an in-house job.

3. Look for those press releases that have contacts at an agency/in house job that you covet. Reach out to them – let them know that you are interested in their company and ask for a few minutes of their time to discuss the company and the best way to get your resume looked at. Once again… enhance your image! It takes a lot to secure that dream job, don’t be afraid to leap!

4. Infuse passion and truth in all that you do to secure your dream job. PR agencies and in-house departments look for that fire in each person that they hire.  Show them that you easily adapt but are truly passionate about the work and the image that you are striving to maintain on a professional and personal level.  Being confident about who you are, goes a long way in an interview.

5. Social Networking? Definitely a plus – don’t shy away from PRWeek and/or PRSA events.  Join those groups on Linked In with other PR professionals who may be the key to your dream job. However, do remember that you may be Googled at times, so always bear in mind that you are branding yourself at all times and you don’t want to lose the opportunity to secure that dream job for something foolish that may be posted.

Most importantly, remember that when scoring that dream job in house or in-agency is … never wait for it to land on your lap. Good luck!

About the Author
Lisa Hutchins is a human resources professional who has previously worked at leading PR firms such as Ruder Finn and Cohn & Wolfe. Her responsibilities included recruiting, employee relations, and miscellaneous employee changes. In addition to her HR experience, she has also as a PR pro on an array of accounts and campaigns, including GlaxoSmithKline and Pfizer. Follow Lisa on Twitter via @lisahutchins.

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The Perfect Internship (Hint: It Doesn’t Exist)

PR majors need to do internships.

Notice the plural? A completed internship used to set candidates apart from the pack, but in today’s uber-competitive job market a single experience doesn’t go as far. Employers want to see that your college career has given you the knowledge and skills you need to do real work for real clients. Classes can give you plenty of knowledge, but aren’t going to cut it when it comes to know-how.

So how do you find the perfect internship? You don’t. Instead, you build upon your skill-set with multiple experiences and mold yourself into a qualified job candidate. Here are just a couple of considerations while looking at position postings:

Paid vs. Unpaid

Loans pile up while you spend your time at an unpaid internship. Most students simply don’t have time to juggle classes, an internship, and a paid job. While the vast majority of internships are unpaid, if you dig you can find those minimum-wage gems. However, there are a lot of amazing positions out there that don’t pay. If you happen to find a posting that you know will give you the skills you are looking for, consider your options. Can you take it for credit? Will one semester of not making money ruin your finances? Ultimately you need to decide if putting in hours of unpaid work now will better your chances of getting that amazing entry-level (read: paid) job later.

Agency vs. Company vs. Non-Profit

In my own job searches and experience I’ve noticed differences between the types of places of work. An agency internship will look great on your resume and may include a small salary. However, these positions are highly competitive, and depending on the size of the agency you may be stuck in a lot of support roles rather than working on real strategy and content development. Positions within a company are a lot more likely to be paid. They range in competitiveness depending on the profile of the company, and they can also vary a lot in terms of job responsibilities. Check job posting for the types of tasks you’ll be assigned to in order to gage your level of responsibility. Non-profits can be a great experience, but they are rarely paid. However, there are many of opportunities out there and you’ll usually be given more important tasks; I’ve even seen instanced of interns at non-profits being completely in charge of the public relations program!

Some internships truly are better than others. Spend plenty of time exploring job postings to get an idea of what you are looking to get out of your experience. When you spot a great position, apply! You’ll never find one perfect internship, but if you combine a few great ones, you’ll be well on your way to landing a job in the real, working world.

About the Author
Erin is a senior at  the University of Minnesota where she is working on her degree in Journalism with a focus in Public Relations. During a study abroad experience she completed an internship at a boutique PR agency. She is currently interning at a commodity exchange corporation in a marketing role, while writing her honors thesis and finishing up classes. Contact Erin on Twitter via @ErinMillard or on LinkedIn


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Choosing Your Career Path: In-House vs. Agency

Agencies and in-house PR/marketing departments each have their pros and cons, and either can provide a tremendous experience for aspiring marketers.

The following are some of the differences between in-house and agency work that I have experienced:

 

 

Scope of Attention

In-house employees know the ins and outs of the companies they work for, as their attention is completely devoted to one company and its clients. This expertise enables even the most junior person to bring value to the company. In an agency, the time spent with clients can vary, and contribution may be project specific. Publicists tend to be generalists, and their company-specific knowledge pales to that of someone in-house.

Variety of Work

In-house, the variety of one’s work is limited to one company, while publicists in agencies have their hands full with the campaigns of various clients. The plethora of clients allows newcomers to experience many aspects of PR that come with servicing different accounts, while in-housers only experience the strategies that their company employs.

Requests of Clients

While the agencies service businesses and individuals who entrust them with campaigns, in-house marketing departments service partners and clients of the company. The greatest liability is always on the marketing department, and not the agency of the firm. Executing an unsuccessful strategy or crisis management campaign may result in the loss of one client in an agency, while the same may translate to the loss of many clients in-house.

Pace

The pace of the agency tends to be faster and more versatile than the pace of a company, as many companies mimic their industry. Consider the type of environment you’d like to work in when evaluating whether in-house or agency is right for you.

About the Author
Marina Tsipenyuk is marketing professional with experience in the financial services, music, and beauty industries. She graduated from Rutgers Business School in May 2010 with a Bachelor of Science in Finance. Marina has worked in the marketing department of a fund of hedge funds and interned in a Public Relations firm during her time in Rutgers. Connect with her on Twitter via @msipen.

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