Last week, a friend told me that she was looking to apply to a PR internship – but didn’t know how long she would last as a “coffee runner”. I laughed, and told her that if she thinks being an intern consists of fetching coffees for Meryl Streep, she needs to rethink how she sees the role of junior positions in this industry. To give advice to anyone considering doing an internship, I put together the top 5 things I’ve learned in 5 months at FHR:
1. Step outside of your comfort zone
Often, at this point in your budding careers, you tend to think you have a clear idea of what you are interested in and the direction your path is headed. The reality is, a lot of the time you don’t know what you like and don’t like. Say yes to tasks and projects that you’re afraid of and outside of what you think you want to do.
If you come across opportunities, take them. Put your hand up when your company is looking for an intern to write a blog for them. Volunteer for an internal event and help out your desk buddies with projects if they are looking for extra hands. Your internship is your opportunity to explore.
2. Be resilient
As an intern, chances are you are going to slip up here and there. The strongest skill I’ve developed through my internship is the ability to bounce back when things don’t go as planned, and let’s face it: in this industry, surprises happen often, and you need to learn how to roll with the punches. When a mistake happens or an issue arises, do you sit back in a panic? Or do you band together with your team and tackle the problem head on? Learning how to perform well under pressure is a transferable skill that any organization will value you for.
3. Embrace feedback
Feedback is a part of our learning process. Feedback is not negative. Try to remember that when someone provides you with feedback, they are trying to help. They took the time to look at your work and give you pointers on getting better, so take advantage of it. This provides you with opportunities to grow and show that you are coachable and that you respect the opinions of your team.
4. Ask questions
It’s better to be the intern asking questions than the intern who doesn’t know anything. It shows your team that you are paying attention and that you care. People will see that you are interested in learning and will remember that the next time there is an opportunity to experience and learn something new. Not only this, but your team will learn more about you, your interests, and your learning style. This will allow for better flow in your next project with them. Asking questions is also a way to start a conversation where you can discuss opportunities you are interested in. Do you want to work in the technology sector? Do you want to know about your co-worker’s career path? Ask!
5. Find a company that values you
The fifth and arguably the most important lesson I’ve learned is the benefit of finding and working for a company that values you. Going into work every morning knowing that your work is useful, that you have a voice at the table, and that you are a part of the team is something that no amount of money or perks can make up for. Why is this the most important lesson? It proves to you that working as a team and empowering one another really does drive great results.