It’s that time of the year again. Students and soon-to-be graduates across the country are updating their resumes, highlighting their experience and trying to score dream internships for the summer. But, as you work to make a positive impression, be sure to think ahead to the skills and tools you want to fine tune once you land the job. Taking ownership of this will help steer your experience and the skills your gain during your internship.
While an internship can serve as a stepping stone between school and full-time employment by helping you hone the skills you have already developed, it can also serve as a launch pad for new opportunities. Are there non-traditional areas of public relations that intrigue you? Have you ever worked in the digital space, designed graphics or edited video content? If you land in an organization focused on employee development, your internship may be the perfect chance to learn how.
This desire to grow can also serve as a talking point during interviews. As an aspiring PR pro, you may not know exactly where you want to take your career, but pointing to new skills or experiences you want to gain is a great way to demonstrate that you are thinking ahead. And sharing this desire with internship coordinators and managers can help you secure learning opportunities that will make you a more complete professional in today’s evolving communications landscape.
Seek out new projects during your internship. Exercise your creativity. Don’t be afraid to ask experienced colleagues around the office for tips. You never know what types of skills you may acquire by taking the initiative, thinking outside of the box and offering to help!
If you’ve worked at an agency supporting two, three or even five or more clients, you know that multitasking is a very valuable skill. Yet, while we may all strive to be master multitaskers, there will be circumstances when you will have multiple deadlines all at the same time – and most likely in the next hour.
Now, you don’t possess super powers (if you do, this blog probably isn’t for you). Neither do we. So, here are a few tips that worked for us to manage your time effectively and meet expectations.
When you are supporting countless clients, accounts and projects across multiple team members:
- Communicate clearly with your manager and team to understand expectations and set realistic deadlines.
- Create a weekly to-do grid to share with your manager or team at the beginning of every week. As many interns support several accounts or even practices, managers may not have oversight on all your activities and deadlines. It is your responsibility to let your team know what you have on your plate. (Check out my sample to-do grid below)
- Accept that you can’t do it all. Prioritize your to-do list and plan deadlines accordingly, ensuring that you leave “wiggle room” for crises or immediate requests that may arise.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help. But be sure to flag any issues ahead of time so that your team may be able to assist.
- If multiple people ask for your help on time sensitive projects and all are due at the same time, be sure to flag it to your teams who can then determine how best to prioritize. In some cases, the deadlines are “soft” and can either be pushed back or another person can help you.
- Lastly, take your time. Quality over quantity. Sometimes faster is not always better; it will actually take more time to edit, fix or re-do an assignment than to take your time and do it well. Don’t forget to proofread.
Last but not least, don’t forget to take time and enjoy your internship! It is our job to give you the tools and experience to help you succeed in your early career.
Details, schme-tails. The only people that need to pay attention to details are accountants, lawyers and physicians, right? Wrong. If you are looking to land a job at a PR agency, being detail oriented is not only an asset, it is a necessity.
First and foremost, clients demand high-quality services, about 90 percent of which involve some type of writing or presentation creation. If you hand over a PowerPoint presentation meant for a C-level executive with grammatical errors, informal tone or worse yet, incorrect information, not only will you not get high marks for performance, but the agency’s reputation will suffer a hit as well. Not cool. After all, if a client can’t trust you to spell, why should they trust you with their business?
It may seem obvious, but check your work, check your work, check your work.
Second, perception is everything. It may sound trite and old-fashioned, but it really is true. Providing deliverables that are spelled correctly, formatted consistently and address the audience accurately will enable you to stand out from the competition and position yourself as a professional that can be counted on for quality work. Agencies have high standards and if you have a grammatical error in your resume or cover letter or have misspelled something in an e-mail, your name will likely get pushed to the bottom of the pile. Plain and simple: paying attention to details makes you look good.
Third, there are multiple PR Internship openings across the Porter Novelli network right now, and the application deadlines are fast approaching. Before pressing “send” on that application, recheck your grammar, style and spelling. See the above two items. Seriously.
One thing we like to do on the Porter Novelli Intern Blog is answer your questions. Recently, a forward-thinking intern candidate asked when the 2013 Summer Internship Applications are due.
Here you are: one answer and one piece of advice from a former summer intern turned Porter Novelli PR pro:
- Deadlines will vary from office to office, but are typically mid-spring. For example, the Porter Novelli Atlanta Summer PR Internship applications are due by March 1, 2013. Many Porter Novelli offices are now accepting applications for summer internship positions – you can apply by clicking on “Internship Program” on the orange bar at the top of this blog for more information and direct access to the Porter Novelli Careers portal.
- I encourage you not to wait, but rather apply as soon as possible. Remember that a key to landing your dream PR internship is standing out from the crowd: be early, never late; focus on your accomplishments and prepare yourself for the professional culture of a global agency. Need help? Scroll through some of our older blog posts to point you in the right direction.
Have a question you’d like to ask a current or former intern? Click the “Ask us interns.” button on the right, and don’t forget that we cannot reply directly to your question if you ask it anonymously.