PR internship, Day 1. You’ve worked your tail off to get here, and as you take in the skyscrapers and city buses, people hustling to work and taking calls on the go, you may feel intimidated by a new pace of life that’s likely a lot different from your college campus.
During my first month, I joined a brainstorm to come up with a creative video concept for a client. When I was ready to share an idea, I opened with, “Sorry, I don’t know much about this or our client, but…”
One of our copywriters cut me off. “No prefaces!”
“Your idea matters!” our producer added.
I laughed because it’s true—why apologize? The point of a brainstorm is to throw out new ideas and see what sticks. Even if you don’t have deep background, you can offer a third-party perspective in any meeting, which is incredibly valuable in PR.
The feedback you get may not always be singing your praises. But the fact that a seasoned professional took the time out of their day to give you a tip or two speaks volumes: They want you to succeed. Take their feedback as an opportunity to learn, improve and grow.
The professional world doesn’t offer the same grades we’re used to in college, so to gauge my on-the-job performance I’ve learned to ask for feedback. I now end every delivery email with, “Let me know if this is what you were looking for or if there is anything I can change.” Or if I supported a project in the early stages, like doing research for a new business pitch, I follow up with my colleagues in person to find out how the project turned out in the end.
This shows you genuinely care about the quality of work you are producing, and it will help you know where to improve the next time.
“There is no such thing as a stupid question” clearly came from someone living in a pre-Google society. You can easily do some desk research to get past the simple stuff (“How do I change the text size? How do I hyperlink in Excel?”), and save the deeper questions for your colleagues. You will get more out of your internship, and your team will appreciate the efficiency.
When it comes to the bigger questions, it’s OK to admit you don’t know something. It’s not OK to not admit it or avoid seeking help, only to drop the ball later. Always make a point to communicate ahead of time and ask for advice. Chances are, people around you have completed a similar project before and could offer their two cents. If not, you can find a brainstorming partner to come up with a new solution.
I don’t mean you should say yes to every project — you’ll drive yourself insane. But do say yes to every happy hour, birthday celebration and off-site activity. You are now spending a third of your week with the people sitting around you, so get to know them.
I’m not naturally extroverted, but I’ve learned that joining office activities with a great attitude is incredibly important. It shows that you want to contribute to the office culture and build relationships. It will change the tone of your experience at any new job.
Your first internship will be a tough journey. At times, you will be pushed mentally, emotionally and physically (especially if you’re commuting). But it will be rewarding too. You will constantly learn new things, make new connections and grow professionally.
The work you do, the questions you ask and the challenges you accept will shape your life, so take advantage of this opportunity. Start each day with a grateful mindset, your head held high, and an open mind ready to learn. You’ve got this!