How to Be an Effective Intern

by | Apr 15, 2010 | Internship

As I intern at Dittoe PR, I learn new things on a daily basis. After all, that’s what an internship is for, isn’t it?  Real life – real time experience. It is where you learn to dive head first into the project or opportunity that you’re given and learn how to deal with it like a professional. One of the biggest pieces of advice I can give from my experiences here is to learn from your mistakes, because you’re going to make some, and be of service to the company you work for.  Believe it or not, they depend on you and the work you’re doing for them.

Did I say real time? Yes, yes I did. Time is of the essence in an agency such as Dittoe PR. With every second of my day jam-packed with challenging and stimulating tasks, it took awhile to learn how to cope with the overwhelming sensation of dooming failure that I faced at the end of each day, as I regrettably checked four items off the 10 item long “to-do list.” And I thought finals were stressful!

One of the first things I had to learn was how to prioritize my projects and time. Sometimes, it can be difficult to understand how pertinent these projects are in the grand scheme of things and how quickly they actually need to be done. (This is public relations, that’s the nature of the business.

When you’re unsure about something, there is a simple solution: ask someone. Tell someone you’re attempting to prioritize your work, explain what else is on your plate and they will help you out. For me, I used to think it was just on my shoulders and that it was all up to me to figure things out, but in reality everyone is on the same team. The people at Dittoe PR have been more than happy to help me complete each project, and they expect me to ask questions.

I have developed a check list of things to do when I get my project list for the week. (I know what you’re thinking, “another checklist!?”) Yes, another checklist, but a simple and quick one:

  1. Make tentative deadlines for yourself and the individual projects. I will typically make notes on each item, telling me what day I will do that specific thing and what time period of the day; morning, afternoon and evening.
  2. Circle the things that must get done ASAP – and start on those as soon as this check
  3. list is completed. If it is very time sensitive, I will get right to work on that before examining the rest of the sheet.
  4. For conflicting projects (i.e. projects that have the same deadline, and you know one will have to wait for another day) I will, as I mentioned previously, ask the account executive who assigned me that project which one has priority.
  5. Leave yourself a cushion for the items that will come up out of no where. Like I mentioned earlier, this is PR…things will come up that will take priority.

Above all it is important to remember that quality work trumps timely work, every time. This is an insight that I do not hesitate to mention, because it is extremely important and a lesson that I had to learn the hard way. Attention to detail, in this industry is essential. I used to rush through things to get them done on time. When I would do this, my attention to detail suffered and the quality of my work wasn’t where it needed to be. The people here at Dittoe PR depend on what I do, and they expect it to be of the highest quality, just like every other piece of work done here. It is more important to do it well and to the best of your ability, than it is to rush through it and get it done by the “cushioned” deadline.

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