Written By: Paula Niederland
Congratulations! You’ve snagged that internship that you dreamed of for so long, and you feel like you’re finally taking a step forward on your career path. But now that you got the internship, don’t forget that you have to work hard to keep it and make the most out of the wonderful opportunity you’ve been blessed with. Follow these tips and I promise that you will not only learn as much as you possibly could as an apprentice, but I also guarantee that you will teach your mentors a thing or two along the way!
I started my internship at First and Last PR through the Englewood Apprenticeship Program which matches up high school students to local businesses in Englewood based off of each student’s individual interests. I’ll be honest, I did not know a lot about the Public Relations field beforehand, which brings me to my first of seven tips:
1. ALWAYS ASK QUESTIONS
Never ever be afraid to ask questions - I sure wasn’t! In fact, I was known for constantly asking questions about both my tasks, and how the tasks I did contributed to the big picture. If you want to do a good job, know what’s expected of you, and the only way to know for sure is to ask. I was definitely able to learn a lot more this way because for every question that I asked, I received an answer that I didn’t expect.
2. TAKE YOUR TIME
With all of the homework I had to manage in school, I was trained to be time-efficient, and I always considered myself to be a fast worker. Interning at First and Last PR showed me how to slow it down a little and really take my time with whatever I do because every single task done is a process, and trust me, it’s all worth it in the end! Don’t get me wrong... don’t just take time to take time, but stop yourself from rushing. There’s nothing more satisfying than beginning something like a deck, and watching it transform into exactly what it needed to be over the course of a couple of days, or however long it takes. What I’m really trying to get at here is that you shouldn’t work just to get work done - work with the goal of getting your work done RIGHT. You know what they say, if you have to do something, do it right! And sometimes getting the job done right takes time.
3. ALWAYS LISTEN TO DIRECTIONS
Listening to directions is something we all struggle with sometimes because maybe we’re not paying attention or maybe we think we know better, but this is one of the most crucial skills to have in both an internship, and in life. If you are told to do something, it is important that you do it because there’s no such thing as busy work during an internship. There’s always a reason that you’re given a task, and there’s definitely always a reason you’re told to do a task in a certain way. Remember that the people around you know best, so listen to how you’re directed to do every task. Learn to have an eye for detail and an ear for listening, and you will be able to instantly improve the quality of your work.
4. HAVE AN INTEREST IN WHAT YOU DO
If you show a genuine interest in your internship, it’ll show throughout the office and the quality of your work will be so much better. You want to know why that is? When you like what you do, work no longer feels like work anymore, and you are able to put your all into it without any restraint. For instance, I really got into how the beauty world works and became familiar with bloggers, magazines, and even some magazine editors. This interest that I developed allowed me to delve deeper into any research I did, which always turned out to be a benefit. Sometimes, I even found myself at home further looking into beauty products and brands, becoming familiar with them and watching videos that bloggers posted on YouTube, or reading magazine articles online. Of course, the more interest you have towards something, the more research you’ll naturally want to do. And the more you know, the more ideas you’ll have! Now that we’re talking about ideas, let’s move on to my next tip.
5. DON’T EVER HESITATE TO GIVE YOUR IDEAS
Our brains are a wonderful tool. We have thousands of thoughts and ideas per day, so why not share them? Chances are, your idea will be loved and could really help the place that you’re interning at. Even if your idea was not able to be put into effect, it’s always good to put yourself out there because your idea definitely gave the people around you ideas, so something good always comes out of it. I can think of plenty of times when my ideas were able to be used, and it’s always such an amazing feeling whenever my ideas could help. There were also plenty of times when my ideas weren’t very practical, but something stemmed from it anyway, and that felt pretty good too. All in all, if you have an idea and you are too afraid to speak up about it - shut that negative voice in your head and go for it anyway! There’s always a benefit to sharing your idea.
6. ALWAYS CHECK YOUR WORK
I cannot stress enough how important it is to CHECK YOUR WORK! Check it a million times over until you are sure that whatever you are working on says exactly what you want it to, EXACTLY how you want it to be said. How embarrassing would it be to realize that you forgot to fix a typo in a really important document? We all make mistakes, but it’s okay to make mistakes as long as we do everything that we can to check over them, and fix them. You will not believe the metamorphosis that every email I wrote went through. Checking your work is imperative to do, and you will realize its significance when you compare the first draft to your final draft. I can’t lie… it’s pretty amazing.
7. LET GO OF ANY “OFFICE FEAR” YOU HAVE
As the Account Manager of First and Last PR, Stephanie Bustamante, once told me, “we all have that one thing in the office that we get a little nervous about, but all you have to do is push yourself to work at it and eventually, you get really comfortable doing it.” I couldn’t agree more with that. Personally, I was always slightly afraid to answer the phone or call other people at work because I was never sure how the person on the other line would react, or if I would be able to answer all of the questions the person on the other end had. I never let this inner fear get in the way of doing the best job that I could do, so I pushed myself to answer the phone and make calls. I think this tip may be the most important, because if you were to avoid whatever “office fear” you may have, it would carry over with you into your future career. By getting past your fear, you can develop a skill that you may carry with you into your everyday life.
Think of your time as limited during your internship! Make the most out of every moment there, don’t waste time, and when you finally do reach the end… there is nothing more important than being able to feel satisfied with what you put in and what you got out. Try to leave with a new set of skills to bring with you into life, a different perspective on the world, and a relationship with the people you were able to learn from and teach something to as well. I can gratefully say that I gained all three of those things in the end. I ended my internship with better knowledge of how the beauty industry works, the knowledge of what a presentation deck is, how to mail FedEx packages, how to turn a JPEG into a PDF file, the journey that a story takes to get into a published magazine or an article online, amongst other great things. I even learned things that I didn’t expect to learn! I thought I was pretty tech-savy prior to interning at First and Last PR, but I learned easier, faster ways of handling apps and computer programs, and even a computer itself. I felt a newfound appreciation for magazine articles after witnessing the true process of getting a story published, and I especially felt appreciation towards all of the work that goes into sending a package after preparing many during this experience. Most important of it all, I am glad to say that I’ve met Stephanie Scott and Stephanie Bustamante of First and Last PR. They have given me guidance, and taught me an incredible amount of Public Relations, and work etiquette in general, and it’s great to say that I have a connection to them in the future. If there’s anything you have to do to get out of your Beauty PR Internship, make sure you build a relationship with your boss and your team!