By: Megan Gasper, Publicist
Each summer we have interns bustling about our agency, all craving to explore the world of public relations in Chicago. Since summer is our busiest time of year, with several theatre productions opening, new restaurants and bars going into business and new initiatives coming from our hotel and hospitality clients, things get crazy! Publicist Katie Moran and I both know, having started our careers at Heron Agency as interns last summer. Some of our most dedicated and longest-tenured employees also started at Heron as interns, including our now Executive Vice President Lianne Hedditch and Senior Publicist Emily Potts, pictured with me and Katie above. Though it’s not the norm, turning an internship into a full-time job isn’t out of reach. All you need is to be a stand-out intern by following these tips!
Honor the Commitment
Internships are hard to come by and all provide valuable experience for their interns. Companies get hundreds (yes, hundreds…) of applications for internship positions. Some context: Heron Agency received more than 600 applications to fill five or six intern positions this summer! If you accept and then back out, there are plenty of eager people who would have killed for the opportunity that now won’t get the experience to appreciate and learn. Take it seriously.
Even if it ends up not being exactly what you want to do with your life, it is important to NEVER burn bridges, especially in PR, when you never know who knows someone else and where it might be important in the future. If you have the internship, show you care by being early. Make it known that you truly care about the work you are doing!
Ask for Feedback
Internships are meant to be learning experiences. Employers don’t expect you to know everything or be perfect all the time. Feedback is a natural part of learning and never goes away, even as you rise through the ranks during your career. Even the best writers get edits and suggestions from others. In fact, I pride myself on being a creative and talented writer, but everything I touch still gets edits and that’s okay! Feedback helps you learn how to improve, avoid similar mistakes and helps everyone create the best possible product, whether that be a Facebook post, press release or email to a client.
Ask for More
You only have three or four months to make an impact and learn as much as you can! When you finish work, don’t just assume the full-time team doesn’t have any work for you. Always ask if there is anything else that needs to be done, or take initiative to fill in gaps that you see, like a media list that needs updating or even refilling the refrigerator with waters for the next meeting. Are you not getting to touch projects where your talents can shine or something you’ve always wanted to do? Ask! Interns are often expected to be just as busy and valuable to the team as every full-time employee. Plus, everyone in the office will appreciate your initiative, intelligence and having less responsibility on their own plates!
Make a point to talk to your colleagues as people, not just other PR professionals. They have friends, pets, kids and lives outside of the office. Chat about the Bachelorette, those HOT Chicago summers, share the funny thing that happened to you on the way to work, anything to get to know the team. Be friendly and personable with those above you in the company, not just your fellow interns. Odds are you can build a strong relationship for possible future hires or you might find yourself a long-term mentor. People like hiring authentic people; be your best self!
Never Hold Back
If you know the answer to the President of the company’s question about what time a meeting is or how to spell the name of a certain reporter, tell them! Knowing the ins and outs of the company’s clients, schedules and day to day business helps you look prepared, because you are! Do you have a new idea to impact the company’s social channels or operations? Speak up! Great companies value intern thoughts, suggestions and talents as much as full-time team members, otherwise they wouldn’t have hired you to help. Never hold back knowledge or thoughts that may be welcomed or appreciated by your colleagues. Leave your creativity out there because you never know what may get used!
Are there other internship tips that you’d like to share with young professionals and students looking to make a splash in the world of public relations, marketing and advertising? Comment on this post and share with your network!