Three Things to Know Before Starting Your Public Affairs Internship

By: Ann Klinck | THG Summer Intern 2017

Many people do not take advantage of the opportunities a summer internship provides, especially one in a city like Washington, D.C. I feel fortunate to be interning this summer with The Herald Group because of the emphasis on making the most of our time here. This summer, staff advised myself and the rest of the interns on how to get the most out of our three months here, and be successful. While many tips were given, there are three major points that have stuck with me throughout the summer:

I. Follow the news.

First and foremost, knowing what’s going on in the news can save you time while doing research for clients. Your research will be completed much faster if you already have a grasp on the state of play for an issue, who key players are and relevant legislation, etc. It’s important to be tuned into the latest news on a client issue or particular field so that finding the information that the client or staff member is looking for is a piece of cake. If you plan on working in public affairs, there is definitely value in following the news.

II. Get to know your firm.

Public affairs firms typically have several clients in all different subject areas. Within the first week or so of your internship, it is beneficial to be somewhat familiar with the client list. While many interns are pulled onto projects when needed, it doesn’t hurt to know what may be coming your way. Aside from clients, it is also important to get to know the staff. There may be someone who had a similar experience to yours, or has done work you are interested in. Student or not, it’s essential to have a mentor in the field you’re interested in that can help guide you when you’re at a career crossroad.

III. Don’t be afraid to ask.

Internships, at the end of the day, are about helping you figure out what career you want to pursue post-grad, and make you more marketable when applying for jobs. If you see that there is a particular client that interests you, or there is something you want experience in, don’t be afraid to ask to help out. The worst that happens is that someone tells you no, but there is a higher chance of you being put on a project that excites you and gives you great experience. Asking to help with a project shows initiative and interest in the subject. If you cannot work on that client, then ask to grab coffee or lunch with someone on that team to hear about their experiences.

Interning in a new city for the summer is a really exciting time, but it’s also important to remember to keep what you’ve learned and use it for future internships or jobs. Make the most of the people around you and the opportunities you’re given and you won’t regret a minute.