I was recently asked by a PR student at Humber College to share some tips on how to be successful intern at MAVERICK PR. After sending her my responses, I thought I'd share my "internship survival" tips with you, too.
Elana's "top five tips" to being a successful intern at MAVERICK PR.
1. Ask a lot of questions: Ask questions even when you're certain that you understand an assignment. There's nothing more irritating than receiving an incomplete assignment from an intern, after he insisted that he understood the instructions. I say this because I've been there :)
2. Don't complain. Sometimes (okay, often) you'll be asked to do unglamorous tasks, like mailing out 500 letters, or developing a super targeted media list. Sometimes you'll be asked to do this for every client by end-of-day. Sometimes the deadlines seem unreasonable, and impossible to meet. Sometimes they are. Just remember that every last person who climbed the corporate ladder in your agency sat in the same seat as you. They've all been there, and survived. And so will you. So don't complain.
3. Don't expect to leave at 5:00 p.m. If you want to be a Maverick, you have to pay your dues. Your clients are your main priority, and if they need something at 5:30, or 6, or 7, you better believe you're going to deliver it. When you're an intern, you especially need to demonstrate your dedication to, and your passion for, your agency and your job. I'm not suggesting that you're always going to stay late, but don't be surprised when 6:30 p.m. rolls around and you're still glued to your chair, with your eyes locked on your computer screen.
4. Ask for more work. I know it sounds crazy, but hear me out. You've been asked to generate a million coverage reports, research speaking opportunities for five spokespeople, and complete invoices for all your clients. But let's be honest -- it doesn't take a genius to generate a coverage report, or transcribe an interview. Developing reports and conducting research are "intern tasks", but they don't demonstrate your value as a public relations practitioner. This is why you must ask for more strategic-focused work. Offer to take the first crack at developing a communications plan, or crafting key messages for a new client, or project. Prove to your colleagues that you're an indispensable member of their team, and they'll be more likely to keep you when your internship ends :)
5. Proofread, proofread, proofread. There is nothing more embarrassing (and unprofessional) than submitting a document with careless errors in it. My advice is to edit on hard copy, not on a computer screen. You're more likely to catch mistakes if you can see the page more clearly. You should also ask a colleague to proofread for you. You might have to bribe them with a cookie, but it's worth it ;)