Spring break traditionally launches the start of the intern search season. Despite the weak job market, many agencies will hire Summer interns this year.
Chicago PR consultant Chuck Merydith recently shared 10 internship tips with Northern Illinois University PRSSA chapter members. Chuck developed the list for students at his alma mater after talking with veteran agency pros who have worked with dozens of interns over the years. Here’s their list:
1. Even if you’ve never had a traditional PR job, think of skills you’ve learned that have prepared you for one. When interviewing a candidate, I’m most interested in seeing/hearing from someone:
- Who can work in a team environment.
- Is a problem solver.
- I can see cold-calling reporters.
You might be the best writer in the world, but more than likely at the intern level we want someone who can research, find information quickly, step in on last-minute requests and be a bulldog with reporters.
2. Keep it professional when at work.
I’ve heard of interns downloading Gossip Girl at work, spending all day on PerezHilton.com. This is the easiest way to lose a spot as a full-time employee, even if you are not being kept fully busy. Word spreads fast on whom is a hard worker and who is a slacker. As the economy changes, companies can be choosy about who they hire and they always will select the hardest worker.
3. Treat everyone with respect.
From the admin to the senior VP, you never know who has the ear of the person making the decision on your hire. You’ll also work or be in contact with everyone eight times in your career (it’s a very small world).
4. Keep trying.
I sent my resume to every agency in town and it wasn’t until the third follow-up call that I landed an interview. . .and job.
5. Agencies are looking for Summer interns now.
Unlike corporations and financial firms, which tend to plan long in advance, PR firms don’t make Summer hires in the Spring.
6. Outshine everyone in your intern class.
Come in early, stay late and raise your hand for more opportunities. People will notice.
7. Be patient.
PR seems unfair in the beginning of your career. Others are doing the “fun stuff,” and you are asked to make copies and media lists, but remember you need to learn the basics before you can lead a program.
8. You’re going to mess up.
It’s human and expected. But own your mistake, apologize and let your manager know how you plan to avoid the mistake in the future. Managers will respect that you’re accountable and honest.
9. When starting a new project such as a report or memo, ask your manager for examples, templates, etc.
Chances are someone has done a similar project before and the manager has expectations of what they want to see (but may not think to share with you).
10. Find a mentor and listen/watch carefully to what they say and do.