Not everything can be taught; however, pretty much anything can be learnt. I studied Public Relations in university but when I graduated, I was nowhere near ready to walk straight into a permanent role. Even after completing a ten week PR training scheme, although I was fully aware of the industry, I only had a vague idea of what to expect in a real life PR agency. Now that I have taken up a permanent role, it seemed a good time to reflect on my experience and share the top lessons that I learnt whilst interning.
1. Not all tasks are interesting but all tasks are important
Whilst you may have dreams of drafting content, developing creative ideas and liaising with clients and journalists, everyone has to start from the bottom and work their way up. You may have to do your share of seemingly less exciting tasks (such as admin or running errands). But, these are usually the most important jobs. To put it simply – if you weren’t doing it, somebody else would have to.
2. Make things easier
I was once told: “No matter what role you’re in, it’s your job to make your superiors life easier”. If someone gives you a job to do, it should be polished and complete when they receive it. No editing needed, completely client ready. You show your value by doing this, making people trust you with more important jobs and responsibilities.
3. Never say no!
You may have a million things on your plate when someone wants to give you more. Although it may seem that you have absolutely no time to do it, don’t say no! Instead, tell them what projects you are busy working on and who for. You may find that a colleague will negotiate with another member of the team to free up some of your time. You don’t want to create a bad rep for yourself by saying no. Whilst it may be your job to get things done, it’s not up to you to figure out what’s a priority.
you should never feel too shy to speak up and make yourself heard.
4. Speak up
It can be awfully intimidating at your first meeting or brainstorm but you should never feel too shy to speak up and make yourself heard. Just because you are at a junior level, it doesn’t mean that your ideas aren’t important or as good as someone more senior. Your contributions will be appreciated more than your dead air.
Furthermore, if you are struggling with something, don’t suffer in silence! No one will expect you to understand everything and pretending you know something when you don’t will only prolong and complicate situations. If something is bothering you – perhaps you are not being briefed properly or you are not enjoying your role – bring it to your managers’ attention. If you want to experience something in particular, let it been known. The number one way to get what you want is to ask for it. Don’t ask, don’t get.
5. Organise a review (Top Tip!)
If your internship doesn’t offer a midway review, ask for one. Half way through your internship you should sit down with your manager and talk about your progress. Discuss what you’ve enjoyed and what you’ve struggled with and get general feedback from your team. This way you can understand what your skills are and what you can improve on – with time to make any necessary adjustments. In my opinion, this is one of the most important factors of an internship. Appraisals are used all career long and the constructive criticism you receive from them are imperative in your development and career growth.
6. You will be surprised by what is difficult and what is ease
There will be times when a seemingly difficult job ends up being a breeze. On the other hand, there will be many times when a relatively simple task turns out to be near impossible. In these situations it’s important to keep a cool head and not stress yourself out. It’s usually these tasks which end up teaching you the most valuable lessons.
You will definitely make a good impression if you offer to take some work off of people’s hands.
7. Go the extra mile
Of course, you will want to shine and show your team your skills and ability. Sometimes, however, this may surpass the tasks and responsibilities you have been set. So, what do you do? Once you have completed your work, volunteer to put your talents elsewhere. You will definitely make a good impression if you offer to take some work off of people’s hands. It shows that you care about your team and people will begin to go to you when they need help. It will never hurt to show that you’re proactive. Go above and beyond to show your dedication.
8. Ask questions
Asking questions may be one of the most important things to do as intern. Not only does it show that you’re engaged and interested, it also helps you learn. If you’re unsure of something, ask for it to be clarified. When you’ve been set a task, it’s important for you to know why you’re doing it; what benefit does it provide for the company or the client?
Friendly relationships are important in the workplace
9. Be social
Although work will be your main priority, it’s important for your colleagues to see you away from your desk once in a while. Team drinks and socials are a great way to form relationships with your team and be remembered. Friendly relationships are important in the workplace, as it is where you spend most of your time. People will be more likely to want you to stay on in a permanent position if they like your company as well as your work ethic!
10. Enjoy It
Sometimes in life we can get so caught up with where we want to be and how far away we are from our goals. As an intern it’s critical that you remember why you are in the role and what you want to get out of it. Once you know this it will be easier to make the most of your experience. Remember, you are not only there to help but you are also there to learn. Before you know it, your days of an intern will be over, so enjoy it while it lasts!
So there you have it, my top ten PR life lessons so far. Of course, these are not the only things I have learnt. Still, these are tips that I intend to carry with me well into my career and I’m certain that I have many more lessons to learn. Regardless of what stage of your career you are in, I hope that these can be of some benefit to you.