Making the most of internships

Written by Heather Williams, 2018 PRINZ Student Ambassador, Waikato Institute of Technology

Taking the bull by the horns is key to a successful internship, but is that all? There is so much to be gained from this essential module but why? The skills gained through an internship can surprise you. Not only can these opportunities provide insights into how varied public relations can be, but also a great way to fill the gaps in your resume.

Since completing my internship, I have discovered a few important tips to help make the most of your opportunity and grow your network in the process.

1. Remember this is still real life

Future employers will look at your internship as a ‘free trial’. Give it everything you have, because, at the end of the day, this could be your future job or even better, the great opportunity to learn new skills that you may use in the future. It’s a win-win.

2. Take note

Taking notes is essential in most fields so why not your public relations internship? Keeping a record of your accomplishments not only helps you in the future when applying for jobs but also give you content for your portfolio. That blog post could land you the career you always dreamed of.

3. Look under every rock

Some of the best opportunities aren’t in PR agencies. My own internship was established through a voluntary position online. Granted it was in my chosen area, but it really didn’t have to be. Public relations is so multi-dimensional that you could get away with nearly anything and relate it to your degree. You might even find something new that you didn’t think would tickle your fancy.

4. Why? Why? Why?

Being an intern gives you a little leeway to ask as many questions as possible without looking insane. In fact, asking questions is key to breaking the role down. This also shows your investment in the position. Learning more about the job also gives you an advantage over other candidates with the same qualifications.

5. Feedback is key

Your mentors are essentially another tutor. Just like any other assignment, getting feedback helps to determine where you went wrong, or right and learn. Learning is the key to the entire process.

6. Can we be friends?

Always stay connected. Building your network can always come in handy, and there are plenty of ways to stay in touch.

· LinkedIn: Staff can endorse your new skills, give you a platform to share your portfolio and keep in contact with staff members that only want the best for you.

· Social Media: sites like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are far more of a relaxed platform and allow you to remain in contact on a more personal level.

7. Would you be happy to give me a reference?

Most mentors are more than happy to sing your praises for a job well done. Keeping contact will ensure when you need it, the recommendation can best fit your needs.

8. Don’t be shy

For my introvert friends out there, here is a tip just for you. You are not alone. It’s a big part of the degree and can really bring you out of your comfort zone, for the best. Meeting clients, doing presentations and taking calls can only get better with practice.

9. The more the merrier

You don’t need to be content with just one internship. If you have the time, options and ability to take on more, it comes with the benefit of growing your resume.

10. Have fun

Seriously it helps. Sometimes projects can be stressful but remember this is an internship and you are there to learn. We all know the information is retained when associated with a memory. Make your internship one remember.

Don’t forget, an internship is not about being perfect. It is about implementing the tools you have learnt through your studies and understanding how they work. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. You are only human and you are there to learn.

Image credit: @Istock