6 Tips for PR Interns

By Scott Signore

I understand we have a new crop of summer interns starting soon, and thought to share some tips on how they can make the most of their time here at Matter. Public relations internships embody the term, “You’ll get out of it what you put into it,” and not only do interns gain valuable experience, but when approached intelligently, internships are often the foot-in-the-door that recent, enthusiastic grads seek out. (Blogger’s note: I have some credible perspective as many years ago I was hired by the agency where I interned. And, more recently our agency has a thriving program that hires several successful interns each year.) So, interns, a few thoughts as you get started:

Soak it all in. The very best interns are the ones that are focused on becoming ready for a full-time PR or social media position. If they have the very best and most rewarding experience, they will be considered for a position within the organization. To that end, think of the length of your internship as being longer term (than whatever it’s scheduled to be!) and absorb information as if you will be putting it to good use at a later point. In addition to showing enthusiasm, doing so will give you a good jump-start should you be starting as an employee soon in the future.

Ask questions. No employer expects its interns to jump in and get things done without inquiring about specifics, and it’s always far better to get clarity rather than to do a specific job incorrectly, requiring corrections to the work later in the process. College students and recent graduates secure their internship positions for the purpose of gaining valuable experience, and it’s smart to ask questions in the spirit of learning and doing a better job in completing assigned tasks.

Make yourself available. Like staying close to a coach on a sideline, whoever is nearby becomes the immediate solution after a bad play. The same applies to the office arena, where sometimes opportunities surface because you are around and easily accessible. When you are able to take work on, be sure to communicate broadly so needy teams look to you for help and support.

It’s a job, so treat it like a job. Some internships have heavier workloads than others, but in all cases the employer is expecting interns to behave as if they are on staff, so be sure that you don’t disappoint. Be attentive to directions given and be thorough in your work. And, take deadlines seriously because there’s a good chance that your colleagues, managers and teams have their own deadlines they must manage related to your projects.

Dress the part. This may not apply to every PR agency, but it’s smart for interns – who are new to any organization they are joining – to think through their appearance before heading to the office. It’s smart to get stuck between business and casual in the description “Business Casual,” and no matter how casual the environment may be, it’s never wise to wear flip-flops.

Embrace whatever comes your way. A particular assigned task may seem monotonous, but it could be surprisingly important for the team being supported. Interns do themselves and their colleagues a serious professional favor by bringing a “will-do” attitude to the office. No matter the magnitude of the assignment, it behooves any intern to embrace all assigned tasks with gusto.

What else should I suggest to the new crop on interns?