So You Want To Be an Intern

The Herald Group is happy to welcome four new interns to our staff this summer that will assist in client relations and fill an essential role in daily office routines.

Over the years I have interacted with interns and have even been an intern myself more than once. While interns are hired to help the company and its colleagues, I have learned from my own experiences and from the stories of others that there are more than a few intern horror stories where less than 100% was given from the start.

So for all future interns of the world and the companies that hire you, below are a few tips to ensure that both interns and companies alike gain the most out of their future experience.

1. Be willing to roll up your sleeves: Regardless of industry, whether you are starting your career journey in PR or Accounting, be ready and willing to come in early, stay late and support your team members in the tasks that need to be done. To be blunt – it’s an intern’s job to do the grunt work around the office. While that should not mean walking the boss’s dog or going to pick up dry cleaning, it probably involves droll data entry or making 20 binders for a presentation. Whatever it is, jump right in, have a positive attitude about it, and do it well.  The first few weeks of your internship are crucial in making a good impression and the best way do so is by completing what is asked of you well and gracefully.

2. Always be respectful: This point should go without saying but as it applies to so many facets of an office I will say it again, always be respectful. It is perfectly fine to be confident in your work or even a bit overwhelmed at times but remember to maintain composure. In every office there will be colleagues eager to help guide you or give feedback. Seek them out when necessary and be open to criticism. Remember that you are new to the office as well as the profession so respect your office “elders”.

3. Maintain professionalism: This is another point that can apply to more than one area of your internship.  Professionalism is key.  Reply to all emails in a professional manner, even if just to say a quick “Thank you, I’m on it”. PROOF READ everything before sending. And remember to dress the part of the job you want not the one you have, even on casual Friday.

4. Be eager to learn: Do not forget that this is what an internship is all about, a learning experience that you can use to grow on your path to your future career. Listen intently, take notes and ask questions but also be ready to work out some of the obstacles you might be facing on your own. The company is not going to hold your hand every step of the way but rather guide you to making informed decisions and overcoming those obstacles independently.

5. Volunteer your services: This goes hand in hand with my point above. Part of the learning experience is putting your practices to use along with some trial and error. Volunteer to write a press release, blog post or do some research for your company, and listen in staff meetings for any work you can help out with. In my experience, this is how I’ve gotten the opportunity to work on interesting projects and learn the most. Plus, it is a clear sign to the staff that you are someone who takes initiative — a trait you want them to share with future employers if they are called as a reference.

In your internship, as in life, I believe you get out what you put in. So why not give it your all? Good luck and we hope to see you on the other side.

Let me know what you think of my tips and if there is anything you would add. PR pros are there any interesting stories of internships that you can divulge?