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.


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.


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 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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How to Turn Your Crappy PR Internship into a Positive Learning Experience

Congrats!  You’ve secured a post-grad internship and are one step closer in climbing that proverbial corporate ladder and getting the plush corner office with a spectacular view.

BUT, (and this is a big but) there’s one obstacle keeping you from your dream career: a sub-par experience and a micro-managing bully of a boss that you’re convinced is out to ruin your budding career (cue Kevin Spacey’s character from the movie ‘Horrible Bosses’).

While this may seem a bit melodramatic, it holds a bit of truth.

What happens when your internship, well, really sucks? Your dream job put on hold, and career path questioned because of a bad experience?

These 3 tips will help you turn an unloved internship into one worth cherishing.

Set Goals

Whether you love your internship or hate it, remember your future employer will most likely ask about your experience at this company. This is the perfect opportunity to set personal goals/objectives. Have writing samples to put in a portfolio, ask someone you trust for a recommendation on Linkedin, or secure media coverage for a client and foster relationships with reporters. Walk away from this experience knowing that, although the it wasn’t exactly what you expected, it taught you what you want and don’t want in a career (and that’s pretty valuable).

Play well with others

This may seem a bit remedial (and obvious) but it turns out your kindergarten teacher was preparing you for proper professionalism at a young age. No matter how much you clash with other interns or employees it is CRITICAL that you follow Ron Burgundy’s lead and ‘stay classy’ at all times. Leave the politics to Bill O’Reilly and Anderson Cooper; you are not getting paid to criticize and opine about co-workers. Trash talking will only leave you looking foolish and hinder your chances of getting hired at a different company.

Be Positive

Any experience is better then NO experience at all and just because you’re not toting around New York City fetching cabs and Starbucks coffee for co-workers at a ‘glamorous’ PR/entertainment firm does not mean you can’t gain valuable experience for any future toting you may do. Think of this experience as a stepping stone in your career. Even if the tasks were mundane you still gained experience working with others, learning a new management style (good or bad that you should avoid or replicate), and picking up a new skill set i.e. writing/editing, problem solving, self-confidence, leadership, etc.

You may not realize it now, but this experience is preparing you for future opportunities and creating a career path best suited for what you desire. Learn from it and leave feeling happy and hopeful because as the saying goes ‘A bad apple can spoil the whole bunch.’ Don’t let one bad experience spoil your chances to the possibility of a great career and a fresh, fabulous future.

What have you learned from a bad internship experience and how have you grown from it? Would love to hear your thoughts.

About the Author
Jackie Bavaro is a recent graduate from Ohio University with a Bachelor’s of Science in Communication. She is currently pursuing a public relations career in ‘The Queen City’ of Charlotte, NC. Connect with her on Twitter (@JackieBavaro) and Linkedin.

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How to Make a Name for Yourself as a PR Intern


Every Friday, PR at Sunrise will continue to offer articles that are written by PR students..

Too often, people slip in and out of their internship barely making a name for themselves. They show up, get the credit hours they need, and then both they and the company move on.

However, I cannot stress enough the importance of making connections and making yourself known during your internship.

I made it a personal goal to make sure when I left my internship, people remembered me. Here’s how:

1. Always say hello. From the CEO to the custodian, whether I remembered their name or not, I always made sure to say hello to everyone that I made eye contact with at the company. A smile and a “hello” can sometimes be all it takes to brighten someone’s day, and they will always remember you for it.

2. Participate. Every meeting I attended I contributed at least one idea, suggestion or statement. If I didn’t have anywhere to make a suggestion, I would simply say, “yes, I completely agree because….” Contributing a statement or suggestion to a meeting makes people who may have previously overlooked the intern notice you, even just for that moment. Making yourself standout helps you to be better remembered in the future.

3. Ask questions. If I needed a new assignment during my internship, I’d ask. If I was given an assignment and had a question on it, I’d ask. Your boss and your coworkers will like that you want to participate and help with assignments as you can, and they will like that you’re not afraid to ask questions. I will be remembered at the company as the intern who worked hard and did as much as she could to get the most out of her internship.

What else have you learned from your internships that you would add to this list?

About the Author
Christina Starr is a senior at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. She will graduate in December with a bachelor’s degree in journalism with a concentration in public relations. Connect with her on LinkedIn or Twitter via @c_c_starr.


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It’s Okay to Intern After Graduation

With college seniors having just graduated, I wanted to share my post-grad experience. I was a May 2010 Public Relations graduate from the University of Maryland, and I am grateful that I interned after college.

I had my fair share of of internships and work experience throughout college, and like most of my classmates, had been applying for full-time jobs for months before graduation. A lot of our in-class discussion revolved around who had been lucky enough to have landed a job already or had been hired full-time from their internships.

I felt uneasy as graduation loomed and I still had no plan, so I decided to focus my time on getting an internship. However, many entry-level jobs call for up to 2 years of experience, and I didn’t have anything close to that on my resume. I was frustrated and didn’t even think I would get an interview based on this research. Because of this, I decided to focus on getting an internship.

I was lucky enough to apply for an internship at a small agency in Washington, D.C. that needed help with a big project – and I applied at the perfect time. I finally had a plan after graduation. Additionally, I felt qualified for the position, which made it easier to transition from student-life to work-life. I was finished my learning in the classroom (for now), and it was time to learn in the field.

The whole experience was great. Working a full-time internship is very different than the Monday, Wednesday, Sometimes-Friday plan I had been on my senior year. I was allowed to fully integrate myself into the agency. I attended bi-weekly staff meetings, contributed to client deliverables and met clients when they came to the office. I got to know my colleagues well.

As time went on, I dove deeper into media and marketing projects and was given real responsibility. I know I had proven myself and by September I was asked to come on full-time. I had made it – and had lost nothing and gained a lot of experience along the way.

So, college seniors: don’t discount an internship after graduation. Interning allows you to decide if what you’re doing is really want you want to do (Luckily, for me it was!). You’re not tied to a salary or vacation days- take a few days off and celebrate your graduation. Congrats!

About the Author
Maeve Atkins is an Account Assistant at Griffin & Company, Inc., a marketing communications agency in Washington, D.C. In 2010, Atkins earned a bachelor’s degree in communication with a concentration in public relations from the University of Maryland. Connect with her on LinkedIn and Twitter via @maeveatkins.

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