Though it’s not the norm, turning an internship into a full-time job isn’t out of reach.
Each summer we have interns bustling about our agency, all craving to explore the world of public relations in Chicago. Some of our most dedicated and longest-tenured employees started as interns.
Want to launch your career by securing a coveted PR position? All you have to do is be a stand-out intern by following these tips:
1. Honor the commitment.
Internships are hard to come by, and can provide valuable experience.
Organizations get hundreds of applications for internship positions. Heron Agency received more than 600 applications to fill five or six intern positions this summer. If you accept an internship and then back out, there are plenty of eager people who would have killed for the opportunity that 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 not burn bridges, especially in PR, when you never know who knows whom and where it might be important in the future. If you secure an internship, show you care by being early. Make it known that you truly care about the work you are doing.
2. 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. It doesn’t go away, even as you rise through the ranks during your career.
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Even the best writers receive edits and suggestions from others. Feedback helps you learn how to improve and avoid similar mistakes. It also helps everyone create the best possible product, whether that be a Facebook post, press release or client email.
3. Ask for more.
You only have three or four months to make an impression and learn as much as you can.
When you finish your tasks, don’t assume the full-time team doesn’t have any work for you. Ask if there is anything else that must be done, or take initiative and fill in gaps that you see, such as updating a media list or refilling the refrigerator with waters for the next meeting.
Are you not getting to touch projects where your talents can shine or work on 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, others in the office will appreciate your initiative, intelligence—not to mention having less responsibility on their own plates.
4. Be personable.
Make a point to talk to your colleagues as people, not just other PR pros. They have friends, pets, kids and lives outside of the office. Chat about “The Bachelorette” and hot Chicago summers, or share a funny thing that happened to you on the way to work to help you know the team.
Be friendly and personable with those above you in the organization, not just your fellow interns. Doing so can build a strong relationship for a possible future position, or you might find yourself a long-term mentor. People like hiring authentic people, so be your best self.
5. Don’t hold back.
If you know the answer to the president of the organization’s question about what time a meeting is or how to spell the name of a certain reporter, speak up.
Knowing the ins and outs of an organization’s clients, schedules and day-to-day business helps you look prepared. Do you have a new idea that could help the organization’s social media channels or operations? Tell your leaders. Great organizations value interns’ thoughts, suggestions and talents as much as full-time team members—otherwise they wouldn’t have hired you to help.
Don’t hold back knowledge or thoughts that might be welcomed or appreciated by your colleagues. Put your creativity out there, because you never know what might get used.
What tips would you share with young PR pros and students looking to make a splash in the industry?