Intern guide: thriving as an intern (2/3)

Last week I wrote about how to find an internship. You’ve now secured your placement — well done! But it’s not enough. You really need to excel, get something out of it and learn from it. What are the most significant things you should do while doing your internship? How do you really thrive as an intern?

#1 Get to the office early

This one requires a bit discipline and commitment, but it’s a great way to show that you’re the top intern. Get up earlier and get to the office slightly sooner than your contractual hours. This will give you some extra time to prepare for the busy day or catch up with the tasks you didn’t manage to cross off the to-do list the day before.

You can also use this time to ensure you…

#2 Stay on the top of news agenda

PR is about knowing what’s going on in news. You need to be able to find opportunities for your clients to shine in the media. You might think that as an intern, you have no influence on the client work. But your co-workers might sometimes be too busy to read the news. That’s where you come in. Before you rush off to the office, listen to Radio 4’s Today programme. The whole nation wakes up to the voices Montague, Humphrys, and Robinson and the programme sets the news agenda for the upcoming days. When you have an opportunity, check the newspapers in the office. Can you spot any client coverage? See whether any stories could be relevant to the accounts you’re working on. Be proactive! Going the extra mile will always pay dividends.

#3 Be enthusiastic

Sorry to disappoint you, but as an intern, you are very unlikely to be developing communication plans for global accounts. What you’ll probably get up to is conducting research, preparing media lists or doing admin work. These might seem pointless and they seem mundane. But make sure you do those tasks with enthusiasm, always paying attention to detail. All in all, all of them are building legwork for your team and they are all hugely important, even if they don’t seem like it. Moreover, those duties will teach you many things — putting journalist contacts to Excel will give you many insights into the media landscape (and will teach you how to use spreadsheets!). The research tasks will widen your horizons and teach you new things. Admin errands will give you an opportunity to excel in time management skills. All of above will show your team that they can rely on you.

Another great way to bond with your team is by offering tea and coffee rounds in the office. You’re never too senior to use your coffee-making expertise!

#4 Ask questions

“Being curious” as a quality of junior/intern was mentioned by interviewees of #4PRQs (Four PR Questions) multiple times. Make sure you ask questions during your placement. It shows that you really care about what your team is doing. Don’t be afraid to ask questions that you might think are trivial. There are no silly questions. It’s always better to ask rather than go on to do the task and end up doing something completely wrong. Curiosity can get you far!

#5 NETWORK

You might think I’m a bit obsessed with the word *networking*, but again, PR is a people business. There are no better opportunities to meet new industry pros than using your placement as an ultimate networking opportunity. Use each lunchtime to meet a new person. Don’t be afraid to approach senior members of the agency — they’ll be flattered if you ask them for their advice. Ask to grab coffees, go out with your team when you’re offered.


#6 Pro’s view — Paul Stollery

I’ve also asked Paul Stollery of Hotwire about his advice on what makes interns shine and what attitudes workplaces appreciate in them. What do you do to ensure you’re getting most of your placement?

“Get your attitude right – be confident without being cocky.

“I’ve seen loads of interns waste their placements, sitting there quietly and not asking any questions. Don’t think you’ll annoy them – you’re working for them, and it’s their responsibility to have work lined up for you. This sounds like cliche advice, but I can’t stress enough how important it is.

“I’ve also seen interns (and junior account executives) walk in thinking they own the place. There’s no quicker way to make a bad name for yourself than by acting like you’re god’s gift to comms. You’re not, and if you want to be you need to make sure you’re learning off the people you’re working with.”

Be confident without being cocky.

Paul Stollery is Senior Programme Director at Hotwire. Make sure you follow Paul and Hotwire on Twitter. To see agency’s work, visit their website


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Make sure you visit next week for the final part of the guide on what to do after your internship. You can also check last week’s piece on how to find an internship.

If you have any suggestions, or would like to give me a feedback, feel free to email me at kl.marcel [at] gmail.com, tweet me @marcelkl or see my LinkedIn. Thanks for stopping by, have a splendid day!

Author: Marcel Klebba

Junior account executive at a global PR agency, working across the corporate & B2B accounts. Interested in current affairs, tech, and digital.

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