(Post by Adriana Van Duyn, APR, Account Supervisor)
Just when you thought you would never have to be a freshman again, you start an internship. Here you are, back at square one, feeling a little overwhelmed, but really excited. This is a great opportunity with even greater potential: a job offer.
For some, this will be your first time working in a professional environment. For most, it will be your first practical exposure to your chosen profession. Either way, it can be pretty intimidating on that first day. To help take some of the pressure off, below are some tips to help interns soar through their first (or second or third) internship. We hope they help!
Learn the Company Culture – while this may take some time, learning a company’s culture will help you assimilate more effectively. Pay attention to how people communicate and interact. This not only exposes you to some great – and maybe less than great – examples, it will help you more easily integrate into your new role. Once you have a sense of the corporate culture, respect the rules and the chain of command … it’s there for a reason.
Act (and Look) the Part – first and foremost, redo your voicemail message. “Hey, this is Katie! Leave a message and I’ll holla back at ‘cha” is no longer appropriate. Neither is swearing, talking negatively about people or being late (even if it’s only 5 minutes). This all reflects negatively on you and kills your “new hire” potential. Additionally, invest in some work appropriate attire. Proceed cautiously on “casual days.” If you’re unsure, overdress the first day and scope out what the rest of the office is wearing. It’s worth it!
Write Right – “THX … C U L8TR!” Is not an appropriate response to the 3 p.m. meeting request you just received. So much of what we do as PR professionals involves writing, so write correctly. Address your emails appropriately, always include a subject line and proof read everything (twice). Once you have a better sense of the corporate culture, you can adjust accordingly.
Be Yourself! – and be the very best you. You were hired for your capabilities, background and fit to the organization. So, be confident, upbeat and positive. At this stage in your career, attitude is everything. Companies can teach you the needed skills for the job, but they can’t fix a negative attitude or lazy work ethic.
Take Advantage – don’t be afraid to ask questions! Internships are a great way to get hands-on practical experience while building your portfolio and, hopefully, having some fun along the way. Sure, there will be some less-than-engaging tasks, but take every opportunity to make yourself shine. Ask questions: why is this done that way? What is the next step for this project? What is the ultimate goal? Take notes and soon you’ll have an arsenal of information and experience.
For some additional tips on what NOT to do as an intern, check out our “You Might Need a New Intern When …” post.
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