At one point in my career, I thought I might be an intern forever. I had had four internships before I graduated from college and the thought of making “real” money seemed like fulfilling the impossible dream.
[icon_list type=”arrow”] I eventually landed a full-time job and have been working in public relations and marketing ever since. I’ve had a chance to work with some awesome interns and some who could have used just a little more polish. As a result, I’ve developed this list of dos and don’ts for interns to be.
- Do ask questions. It’s true. The older you get in an industry, the more you’re expected to know. Take advantage of your role as a “newbie” and ask as many questions as possible.
- Don’t wear headphones. This is your opportunity to tune into your surroundings. Learn as much as you can from the account executive pitching a story in the cubicle next to you or the creative director reviewing concepts with your boss. Putting away the headphones also makes you more accessible when someone needs to strike up a conversation with you.
- Do take advantage of as many opportunities as possible. Sometimes, a photo shoot may stretch past your four-hour time commitment. Other times, an event may take place when you’re not scheduled to work. Take every opportunity to participate in these activities. This shows you’re willing to learn and committed to going the extra mile.
- Don’t say, “I’m just the intern.” You may not have the same experience as those around you, but don’t let it be an excuse for not contributing to a conversation or offering up an idea. We work in a subjective industry. Some of the best ideas for campaigns I’ve worked on have come from interns.
- Do ask for opportunities. Want to learn more about the news media? Ask your boss if he or she has any connections at the local TV station. Intrigued by crisis communication? Ask if you can sit in on a call with a client in the midst of some trouble. Trust me, 9 times out of 10, your request for opportunities will be honored.
No matter what you do, always say thank you to those who helped you along the way. More than a decade after my career as an intern, I still reach out to those who helped me get to where I am with an occasional, “Hey, I was thinking about you today and wanted to thank you for …” Gratitude is the cornerstone of building a successful career.