Getting the most out of your internship – a manager’s perspective

As the fall semester kicks off at area colleges and universities, our management team’s inboxes become filled with resumes from hopeful students in search of an internship! Many PR internships for fall have been filled by the point, as most students are finding out (we are still looking for a great intern for our Dallas office, though!). And for those starting their internships, I have a few pointers for you to remember.

Ask questions
How will you learn if you don’t ask questions? And how will you ensure you do work correctly? Asking questions is one of the biggest keys to success during an internship. As a manager, I expect questions from interns. So do our account reps. You are a student, after all, with minimal experience actually working in public relations. So, be sure you are asking intelligent questions to help you do the best job possible.

Listen and take notes
There’s this moment in a conversation with an intern that, as a manager, I dread − when a glassy look comes over the eyes as I’m explaining an assignment while no notes are being taken. We work in a fast-paced environment where not listening and writing down assignments can lead to failure fast – both for you and the project at hand. Pay attention, write everything down and ask questions.

Contribute ideas
Join the conversation! In an environment like ours, where it’s not uncommon for a person to yell out a question about AP Style from three spaces down, interns who thrive are those unafraid to speak up. Whether we’re brainstorming ideas for a client as a team or simply discussing where to have lunch that day, we full-timers love when you interns join the conversation! And, my best interns have always been those who proactively send me ideas for clients. Those are the interns who get hired if timing is right.

Be a self-starter
Agency life is exciting – no day is the same. But even we have our slow days. If you ever find yourself “bored” as an intern, think of how you can contribute. Proactively send an email asking if anyone needs help. Look around the office – is there something that needs organizing (like the never-ending pile of newspapers we read on a weekly basis)? Is there a media list that needs updating? Have you heard about a project going on with a client that you want to assist with? Showing initiative is a great sign of leadership and of a good PR professional.

Be on time and be present
It is very simple: interns are expected to be on time. And, unless otherwise approved during the interview process, excessive absences not due to illness are frowned upon. If your internship is being completed for class credit, missing days could affect your final review and grade. So, when you commit to an internship (paid or unpaid), be on time and be present.

Treat your manager and co-workers as mentors
We get it – PR people can be intimidating. We’re loud, we’re opinionated and we’re passionate about what we do. But we also want to help you learn and grasp the discipline of PR. So, pick our brains, share your career goals and, here it is again, ask questions. The more we learn about you, the better we can help you hone your skills. And if you’ve let your personality, drive and abilities shine, we’re more likely to have positive recommendations for your career endeavors.

Interested in an internship? We’re hiring for a level 1intern in the Dallas office and accepting internship applications for both the Memphis and Dallas offices for 2013. Visit our careers page for details.