How to Stand Out During Your Internship

What brings you joy?

 

Ever since binge-watching Tidying Up with Marie Kondo on Netflix at the beginning of the year, I’ve been asking myself that question in every aspect of my life. Before Marie Kondo, I actually already used this phrase with my friends somewhat jokingly when approached with a question: “Vanessa, should I buy these new shoes?” “Well, will it bring you joy?” But now, it’s taken on a whole new meaning.

 

Digression aside, one of the things that brings me the most joy in life is Dittoe PR’s internship program. As a former Dittoe PR intern myself, I remember how incredibly amazing my own experience was. While there were several perks to the internship, what made it truly impactful was the real-life agency experience I gained while still being a college student. This group of strangers brought me onto their team and almost instantly trusted me to help handle their day-to-day tasks – were they crazy? I’m not sure. But now, a few years later, I help lead our internship program and these strangers have become my work family (and yes, I can confirm they are a little crazy).

 

Every semester, it’s my goal to make sure our interns have the same experience I was afforded as a DPR intern. While we’re known for holding our interns to a high caliber, we believe this will help you in the long run. Our interns walk away feeling like they’ve gained the tools and lessons they need to become a PR professional. In fact, many of our current staff members started at Dittoe PR as interns. So, what is it that we look for in an intern? And what can you do to become a stand-out intern? Below I’ve scrounged up some tips and tricks I think will help any student stand out from the crowd, at a PR internship or elsewhere.

 

Take all the notes and ask all the questions.

This is probably the biggest piece of advice I can give all interns. Especially in PR, it’s imperative to take notes. Come to every meeting with a pen and paper and be prepared to write everything down. This shows that you’re not only prepared, but attentive, too. We also love when interns ask questions – we want to make sure you have a good understanding of each task at hand. And don’t be afraid to ask the daring questions, like “what if we did it this way?” or “have you thought of it this way before?” Questions like that will surely knock our socks off.

 

Treat this like a real job.

We hope you see this opportunity as more than just another college credit hour or another entry on your resume. Treat this internship like a real job because, well, that’s what it is. A real job. We give our interns real projects with real deadlines with real expectations. Forget the fluff projects you’ve had at other internships – at Dittoe PR, each intern is plugged into a dedicated account so you can see the ins and outs of how an account team works. Our goal is for you to walk away feeling like you have worked in a true agency setting.

 

Own your mistakes and grow from them.

We all make mistakes – from interns to senior account managers, it’s going to happen. The best thing you can do is to own that mistake and grow from it. Instead of dwelling on what happened and having it affect your confidence, look at each mistake as a learning opportunity. We don’t expect you to get everything right the first time, but we do hope to see you improve little by little over the course of your internship.

 

Maintain a “first-day” attitude.

I have to admit, I didn’t come up with this point on my own, but this one has really stuck with me. We all want to make a great initial impression – we usually do this by dressing professionally, taking notes, arriving early, participating in extra activities, etc. But don’t let complacency get in the way. While we’re a pretty laid-back bunch, remember to stay professional throughout your internship. Just because you start to feel comfortable doesn’t mean you can start to slack off in other areas. Treat every day like it’s your first day.

 

Ask for feedback.

The only way you can grow is if you ask for feedback. While we try to give feedback on projects in real-time, we often get bogged down and can let this crucial step fall to the side. But by taking this extra step and asking us for feedback shows that you care and that you want to improve. I can guarantee if you ask someone for feedback, you’ll receive it.

 

Integrate yourself with the team.

We truly see our interns as an extension of our team and not just interns. We love when interns join us during activities outside the office – lunches, book clubs, house warmings, etc. This allows our team to get to know you on a more personal level and help build deeper connections. It also shows that you want to be a part of our team. It doesn’t go unnoticed, and it’s a small act that can go a long way.

 

Think you have what it takes to be a DPR intern? We’re now accepting applications for our 2019 summer internship program through Feb. 15. To apply, send your cover letter, resume with references and three diverse writing samples to Vanessa Staublin at vanessa [at] dittoepr.com.

 

 

5 Tips for Wrapping Up Your Internship

Completing an internship is essential to gaining hands-on, real life experience and skills that you otherwise wouldn’t get in a classroom setting. In fact, a majority of Dittoe PR employees started their PR careers as interns here – including me!

 

Like all good things, an internship must come to an end. If you’re currently interning somewhere, are you prepared for the final chapter? These key tips will help you end your internship on a high note, and, hopefully, guarantee success in your future career-related endeavors.

 

End on a high note.

The end of your internship is just as important as the start. Don’t let the allure of a semester ending distract you from finishing strong.

 

Inevitably, workflow decreases as the semester comes to a close, but don’t let that seep into your productivity. Instead of online shopping for the next interview blazer (that you’ll only use once), show initiative and ask for more assignments. Someone is bound to need help, and the impression you’ll leave on your team is invaluable. Showing commitment to your role could even help to land you another internship or a full-time gig!

 

Leverage your relationships.

It’s not against the rules to ask about potential job openings at your company. If you are having trouble finding your next opportunity, take advantage of the professional network you’ve been building! Especially if you made a great impression, that commitment shows your initiative and dedication.

 

Prepare a list of your contributions during your internship and reasons why you would be a valuable asset to any growing team. Then, talk your mentor or internship director for next steps. Even if you don’t get to stay, they may be able to reach out to their industry peers and find a good fit for you, make an introduction or even provide a recommendation.

 

As a matter of fact, I showed my interest for staying on permanently at Dittoe PR two months into my internship and look where I am today!

 

Create an online portfolio.

In today’s digital age, an online portfolio is crucial to demonstrating your abilities as a professional and standing out against other qualified candidates. It can be as easy as updating your LinkedIn profile with verbiage about your professional roles thus far. Consider uploading completed projects that you are proud of, so recruiters can easily see your samples, and sharing measurable results (i.e. the number of media hits or social media analytics that resulted from your work).

 

Want to go the extra mile? Design your own online portfolio by utilizing easy-to-use tools such as Weebly or Wix. Include your resume, writing samples, letters of recommendation and more to show off your professional prowess.

 

Seek out feedback.

As you approach the end of your internship, it is important to ask your mentor and peers for feedback. Seeking out feedback shows that you want to improve and learn from your prior mistakes. Chances are your colleagues have been in this field for a while – they know a few things!

 

Be sure to schedule an “exit interview” with your internship mentor or director. Take the opportunity to gauge your progress throughout the internship. Pick his or her brain about your strengths, weaknesses and where to go from here.

 

Stay in touch.

No one likes to be ghosted. Especially your internship coordinators or fellow coworkers. Just because your time at the company is over does not mean it’s the time to completely distance yourself. If you maintain contact, whether it be via a professional networking site such as LinkedIn or taking the time to send out a monthly update to your internship mentor, it shows that you care. Your internship is a stepping stone into getting a full-time position, don’t let it go to waste.

 

If you’re considering taking that next step and applying for a full-time position, be sure to do all the necessary research first. What is required of you to apply? Which writing samples would be appropriate to send? Gather all of your materials first, then communicate in-person with your company’s hiring manager to discuss next steps.

 

Like they say during finals week – finish strong!

 

Interested in applying for an internship at Dittoe PR? Contact Vanessa Staublin at vanessa@dittoepr.com to learn more about our Summer 2019 internship program.

Five Tips to Help You Succeed at Your Public Relations Internship

For many college students nearing graduation, completing an internship that will provide useful experience to apply post-graduation is a necessity. After wrapping up another year as a public relations student, I went into my first day as an intern at Dittoe PR in sponge mode, prepared to soak up all of the knowledge radiating from some of the best PR pros in the business.

 

Throughout the course of my internship, I was exposed to the different sides of public relations, including media relations, social media, thought leadership and more. I learned several invaluable skills that will be applicable to the rest of my professional career. I even became proficient in other valuable life skills along the way such as how to fix a printer and, surprisingly, a muffler as well!

 

Here are a few tips to help get the most out of your internship experience and set yourself up for a successful semester:

 

Take notes.

Whether it be in in-person client meetings, on phone calls or when receiving project assignments, it is important you write down what you hear. These notes can be used as a reference while working on your project assignments and could help someone else later on.

 

Taking detailed notes will help you avoid asking your colleague, boss or client to repeat themselves. Plus, it is shows you are listening and value what they have to say.

 

Utilize different platforms.

With multiple projects to simultaneously juggle, PR pros often wish there were more than 24 hours in a day. Using different PR software such as TrendKite, Cision and Sprout will help you complete your work as efficiently as possible.

 

Familiarize yourself with the platforms being used at your firm and review them frequently for new updates. Chances are that a majority of firms use these platforms, so learning them now will pay off in the long-run.

 

Prioritize your projects.

One of the most telling qualities of a successful PR pro is the ability to manage time. As an intern, it is important to demonstrate to leadership that you possess the skills required manage time and priorities.

 

When receiving your project assignments, assess the the urgency, value and effort required from each in order to meet deadlines and get to work. If you are struggling to meet a deadline, be sure to let your team members know ahead of time. They will appreciate the heads up and they may even give advice on how to better prioritize in the future.

 

Ask questions.

Make every moment a learning opportunity. Asking questions is the best way to eliminate confusion, stimulate idea generation and show the higher-ups you’re serious about your work. Additionally, asking questions helps you develop better communication skills, which are one of the most valuable tools a PR pro can possess.

 

Get comfortable being uncomfortable.

Growth occurs when you step outside of your comfort zone. A way to increase your growth opportunities in your internship is by taking on projects you have never done before.

 

Challenging yourself in an internship will allow you to make mistakes with less pressure and, again, show the company’s leadership that you’re dedicated to improving yourself and your PR skills. After all, there is no better way to learn than by diving in head first!

 

Interested in applying for an internship with Dittoe PR? We’re currently accepting applications for our Spring 2019 program. Final all the details here or email your resume and cover letter to vanessa [at] dittoepr [dot] com.

 

This blog was authored by former intern Paige Thompson