Being an intern at any company is always intimidating. You are constantly trying to impress your superiors, while adjusting to the new work environment and expectations of your co-workers.
At a public relations agency, you are not only working for your agency. You are serving your agency and all of its clients ― a definite challenge!
During my five months here at Martin Waymire, I’ve been able to pinpoint the traits that have helped me grow as an intern, or student practitioner, as we’re known here.
Work hard for every client
It’s always easiest to work with clients who share your views, but that’s not always possible. Your bosses may be interested in knowing which clients you’re most passionate about so you can help on those accounts, but be prepared to do just as good a job for clients who don’t stir those passions. Remember, the best way to create a good impression is to do high-quality work for every client.
Working at an agency with a variety of demanding clients means you MUST keep all assignments, deadlines and meetings straight. Our office uses the calendar feature within Outlook email to keep track of meetings and phone calls. But as far as keeping your to-do’s all in one place, Wunderlist is a great app. It allows you to set deadlines and reminders for each task. If you like to have a hard copy, a notebook next to your computer suffices.
Be a fast learner
During your first few weeks, you will be expected to learn how this agency sends out press releases, how it formats specific documents and how they’re stored. Make sure you are paying attention, read over any materials you’re given carefully and write your own personal “cheat sheet,” if needed, to help you remember complex procedures.
Take lots of notes
Learning how to do a new task? Sitting in on a client meeting? Talking to a coworker about a release that needs to be sent out to the media? Take notes. Refer to them while you are doing that task and/or keep them in a safe place for future reference.
Add value through what you know
We are constantly learning about new trends in the industry and from professors with varying backgrounds. This gives us a little bit of a leg up in this constantly evolving industry. Some of the skills we are learning in our classes were not being taught when our co-workers were in school.
Spread your knowledge and create value for yourself. During the summer, another intern and I were able to create motion graphics, which was something our agency had never created for its clients before. By understanding this new tool, we were able to create some unique pieces for Bridge Magazine and the Michigan Retailers Association.
Communicate with others
As interns, we don’t want to show when we are struggling to do or don’t understand the tasks assigned to us. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. It’s better to ask early on when you are confused than to spend hours on a project and do it wrong. Your co-workers are there to be mentors and they are happy to help whenever they can.
But also, communicate about your life outside of work. Finding similarities with yourself and co-workers will help you bond and, ultimately, make your working relationship better.