While it can be overwhelming to have an internship during the school year, there are few experiences that will better prepare someone for their professional career. During my time at Dittoe Public Relations, I have strengthened many skills and learned valuable lessons for my career in PR. Here are the top five takeaways from my remote internship!
1. Learn to communicate and do it well
Working remotely forces you to learn effective communication. You will quickly understand the best way to contact different co-workers. Some prefer instant messaging and emails while others like video calls. Being comfortable with all forms of communication allows you to maximize the time you have with a supervisor. Oftentimes, I will start a project and compile questions along the way to make the best use of time with the project supervisor.
Something that I have found helpful is giving regular updates at the end of the day or when I complete a project, even if it’s just a quick message. In turn, I have become more comfortable communicating with anyone and everyone that I collaborate with on a project. Also, your supervisors really do want to hear from you!
2. Ask lots of questions
We have all heard the classic “There is no such thing as a stupid question.” In an internship, it’s the truth! Asking questions has many benefits, no matter how silly or simple they may be.
First, answers to your questions give you a better understanding of what the project is about and the expectations for the final product, especially when asking to see an example. In turn, you will naturally produce better work.
Second, asking questions shows that you care about the project. It also helps your supervisor understand your thought process and leads to better communication in the future.
3. Appreciate feedback (and use it!)
Accepting constructive criticism is one of the most beneficial tools for improvement, yet one of the hardest things to hear. Once I realized that constructive criticism is just another way of saying feedback, I quickly learned to appreciate the input from my supervisors. These comments are vital for people to improve their work in the future.
If you are not receiving feedback from co-workers, reach out to them and ask for their thoughts on a completed project. At some point during the internship, ask for specific ways to enhance your performance. Are there better questions you could be asking?
Also, document the ways you have implemented feedback in your career. This stands out to employers when interviewing because it demonstrates your commitment to being a better employee that can serve their company. View feedback as tools for change and showcase how you have grown as a professional.
4. Try New Things
Interning at an agency allows you to become familiar with the many facets of public relations. Becoming a well-rounded practitioner will set you apart from others pursuing a career in PR. Maybe you like social media, but you are not confident in your research abilities. Being able to build a press list or find opportunities for your client is crucial. Research may seem daunting but lean on your supervisor to help guide you through the process. After a few times, you will be able to decipher the best candidates to complete the list.
Learn to edit and critique your writing by accepting different writing tasks such as press releases, blogs or social media captions. These formats allow you to practice tone of voice and writing for target audiences. Maybe social media is not something you are interested in, but there is so much more than the picture. Compared to personal social media, professional content requires strategic research and promotion for the client. Also, learn how to track metrics and see first-hand how that can be helpful for a client’s relationship with their stakeholders.
5. Manage Your Time Wisely
An internship only lasts so long, so you have to take advantage of every minute. Something that has always helped me stay on track is writing down the tasks that must be completed for the day and putting them in order of importance. This may sound old school but writing it down on paper really helps! At the same time, I put the name of the project supervisor on my list as a reminder to report my progress when I complete a task. Also, use the company calendar online to schedule your time. This allows you to set reminders for deadlines and supervisors can see your plans too, helping you stay accountable.
Also, limit your distractions. Even if you are remote, treat whatever space you work from like an office. Limit phone time and conversations with your roommates. From one student to another, it can be difficult to turn off the school side of life. Try to handle your time in school the same way. Knowing that you gave a project your undivided attention for a certain period of time will make you feel better about it later on.
At the end of the day, use every project as an opportunity to improve your work. Learn time management and effective communication to develop meaningful relationships with co-workers. Hopefully, these tips will help you succeed at your next internship!
This blog post was contributed by Fall 2021 PR Intern Abby Okeson. To learn more about our career and internship opportunities, visit our About page.