Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Life as a PR Intern #2

Last week's Life as a PR Intern feature went down a treat, so here's round two. This week, I give my top tips for surviving during an internship itself, once again, as informed by my own personal experience. 

Congratulations! You have an internship in the bag. After calling, writing, being interviewed, stressing about what to wear to your first day, that's finally it - YOUR FIRST DAY IS HERE. As terrifying as it can be, here are my top tips for making the most of your time on placement.

1. Chill. The Frig. Out.
No-one likes a Stressed Susan. And really, you haven't got a lot of responsibility just yet, so just calm down. That's not to say you should stroll in half an hour late, wear trainers and catch up with your mates on their landline.

Just calm down. Smile. They're only people, they'll be nice once they learn your name. And if they're not, there's nothing keeping you there really.

2. "Eat smelly food and sing stupid songs."
Or, if you're not me, this title should basically read - "BE YOURSELF." There's nothing appealing about an anonymous intern who never speaks, no matter how good they are. And you'd much rather be remembered (albeit for being the weirdo who had an unhealthy obsession with monster munch and Lion King songs, but who could actually write - true story) than not, right? If they don't like the real you, it's not the right place for you, better learn now than later. 

Make an impact, and if your fabulousness comes with a dash of insanity, so be it.

3. If everything around you is crumbling in fear, FAKE IT.
Feign confidence takes practice, but I promise you once you have it nailed, you'll even impress yourself.

Imagine you're in a scenario where you've been asked to do something that's stupidly scary. Calling a client you've never spoken to before was my fear. Phones in general, actually. I decided - because I didn't want to look like a pithy inarticulate twat - that I would conquer said fear, by faking it.

I wrote a phone script, took a deep breath, remembered it was actually a real life person on the end of the phone, and had a go. No-one died, the company didn't collapse. Obviously.

This is a massive tip I would passionately urge you to remember. There must be at least something you think "god I hope they don't ask me to do that." Well, grab that idea with both hands, and make the decision to turn it into just another tick on your endless list of skillz.

4. Make even the smallest of jobs seem like your dream occupation
Making tea is a common one. Typing out notes and stuff. Photocopying. Picking up samples. Calling and requesting stuff. Hell, even GOOGLING is an actual task to tick off these days for interns. Whatever they ask you to do, just make sure you're sodding good at it.

If you're making tea, memorise how everyone has it, and ask around the office regularly. Buy biscuits. MAKE biscuits. If it's typing, get quicker. If it's samples, be uber-methodical and get them in colour/size/attraction order. You want them to keep on asking you to do stuff. So don't give them a reason to delegate what will probably be the easiest tasks to do well in, to someone else.

And finally...
5. Ask, ask, ask, ask, ask. And listen. Lots.
"Can I sit in to that meeting? Is there anything you want some help with? Am I doing this task how you'd wanted? How did you get your job? What advice have you got for me? Are there any opportunities for me after this placement?"

All massively valuable questions. Asking is the only way you are going to find something out if you're unsure. It demonstrates confidence, humility, and eagerness to learn. And when you ask, listen to the answers carefully. They might not repeat it!

Being on placement is great for earwigging. Not private conversations mind, but listening in on office negotiations and how people sort out problems, logistics and plans is something you cannot learn at uni or school.

"Initiative" is a big word. But to get on well in a PR Internship you should have it in spades. No-one will do your placement for you and unless you're getting a reference from your Dad, no-one will write you a glowing testimonial unless you really want it. I realise this is probably echoing last week's post but there is no substitute for hard work, a smile, and a box of homemade lemon curd cupcakes!

Next week, I'll post some tips for handling the post-internship depression. The fourth and final installment will be tying up any loose ends and answering any questions that haven't already been addressed. Just leave a comment below, tweet me or email me!
Claire x


  1. This is so helpful - thank you! Love your blog xo

  2. As always, really useful advice!

    Maria xxx

  3. You're so good with your tips Claire! Wish you'd written them in 2009 though :p I love monster munch. fact. xx

  4. "Make an impact, and if your fabulousness comes with a dash of insanity, so be it."

    Tea literally came out of my nose at that line xx

  5. I'd second the tip to ask questions. Put yourself out there! Sit in on everything you can to learn all you can.

  6. There are some great tips there. I'm comparing it to past internships of mine and thinking I probably could have done a little better!

  7. I've been looking forward to this post ever since reading the last one! So many invaluable tips to soak up - can't wait for the next one! :)

    Rhiannon xx

  8. I'm two weeks into a PR internship, so this post really came in handy! Thanks so much :) x


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