FROM THE DESK: HOW TO SUCK YOUR PR INTERNSHIP DRY

August 12, 2015

I blame Eva Chen for today’s post.

Say what you want about the pre-med turned fashion icon but she struck new job Instagram gold, literally. Who knew posting with an apple on public transportation would be considered chic and become an innovative beacon to new opportunities. (This is one of those, “Really, I could have thought of that,” moments. Much like Miley and her twerking. Pretty sure that was high school in a nut shell). Fine call me naive – I’m sure she has plenty of other qualifications as well (*S).

Leave Your Mark

Actually – scratch that. I blame this “How to Rock Your Career” post on my over eager doe-eyed, PR jazzed, intern hopefuls – bless their little hearts. After months of what seems like slaving away, internships are about to expire and while you’re either heading back to the good ol’ U or anxiously awaiting that $30K+ millionaire news, there’s a few things that you can do to eek out ahead of the intern pack like American Pharoah.

Today’s post is a “master class” inspired by the textbook itself – if you haven’t picked up this Summer’s required reading, do it now! Aliza Licht’s book Leave Your Mark (for you PR girls that have been under a rock) is filled will nuggets, tips, personal stories and pieces of advice essential for budding PR career gals written by PR scion and SVP of Global Communications at Donna Karan International.

Now in fear of recapping a book I have read (twice mind you – Aliza we need to talk, over 1/2 caffs my friend) I’m going to give you the spark notes version. Consider this my take on how to “rock THE END of your internship” peppered with a few valuable “to-do’s” aimed at securing the reference or placing you at the front of the job pack as you move out of your internship and into your career.

** Two caveats, I wrote this post with what felt like Aliza’s voice in my ear the entire time. It’s 2AM. Secondly, this post builds on what has hopefully already been a successful internship that you have worked hard for and done the best you could to learn the most with the best attitude possible. We’re not turning last place into winners here people.**

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FOUR THINGS “TO-DO” TO SUCK YOUR INTERNSHIP DRY

By now you’ve done all you can do. You’ve approached tasks with a good attitude and gusto, you’ve formed relationships with full time staff and other interns, you’ve asked questions and you’ve worked as hard and as best as you could acting as a sponge soaking up the world that is PR.

1. Congrats – what you’ve done is more important than what you we’re supposed to do. (pg. 33)

By handing someone your resume, you’re handing them your professional “rap-sheet.” Whether you’re beefing yours up for a fall internship or holding on to it to make your case as a full time hire – whoever reads it needs to walk away knowing one thing: that the job your applying for is something you can not only handle but succeed at. That resume is an offer to show your future employer that you will give them the ROI they need on their investment – you. So, in the case of your internship take what you learned and update your resume. Turn each responsibility you had into a success story – show them what you have done! At this point you’ve worked hard and this is where you can brag. Employers want a proven product they can grow and what sets a better foundation than a resume that shows your responsibilities but that you have been given tasks but succeeded at them.

2. Be a sponge in all ways – learning what you like and don’t like, what to do and what not to do. (pg. 43)

Consider this a two-part answer. There were moments this summer you hated. Be honest. If your internship was sh*!!ing rainbows more power to you – but you’re lying to yourself because there certainly was a part you couldn’t stand. I’m here to tell you, whether a person, task, client, messed up task stood at the center of that issue, It’s still a learning experience. You’re internship is just as much about what you do and don’t like as it is what the company may or may not like about you. To use this knowledge to power you forward you can do two things – 1. Talk to your internship mentor about the problem, task or personal behavior. See what the professionals take on it is. There’s nothing wrong with a different perspective. 2. Write it down. Get exactly how you feel out on paper – look back at it and see if as you evolve in other internships and even in jobs, is it a deal-breaker? There will always be more than one way to do things, but if you know your personal limits it will help you define you as a professional for the future.

3. Be a self-starter. (pg. 39)

As a PR pro – nothing bothers me more than people that “sit on their hands” waiting for the work to come. Yes, I’m also human and there are days where I want to pack up at 3 and go home too. We get it, we’re not eager beaver working robots. However, as an intern you have one luxury that professionals don’t and that’s an end. So when you’re given a finite amount of time to learn as much as you can “sitting on your hands” waiting to be told what to do, isn’t an option. Now not to misunderstand – don’t ask to build media list #4 if you have already done 3 that day, by now you’re a pro. But ask if can you take a stab at the pitch, map out a media strategy based on prior versions do something to build on the skills that you have learned – you’re not only showing your supervisors your interest, positive attitude and willingness to learn you’re thinking ahead, and that is an unmatched skill for an intern right out of the gate. The end of your internship is prime time to put everything you have done thus far to good use and take on a little more. That “little more” is what breeds jobs and later promotions.

4. Jobs and roles are earned – not written in a Thank You note. (pg. 42)

Pretty sure Drake wasn’t talking about PR when he said “started from the bottom now we here.” But its about the truest statement one can make about any rising career. You have to start somewhere. As a PR Pro I respect and admire those that are willing to get their hands dirty. If its packing boxes for a media mailer, running around town looking for art supplies or doing a media drop for a mid-level employee so she can get other things done. Some tasks aren’t always going to feel like an accomplishment, some are going to feel like a waste of your time. But towards the end of your internship showing that you will do whatever it takes to get a job done is a highly admirable quality, even if it means never getting a “thank you” or a public pat on the back. Every once in a while there will be “scut” work and doing it with a smile can make all the difference.

What are some other ways you’ll pull out a winning finish at your summer PR internship?

Aliza – I’m serious on those half-caff’s we have A LOT to talk about. (Most importantly – THANK YOU for your guidance, we know they don’t say that in PR enough – pg. 42)