In a three month internship with LCWA, I have learned what interns elsewhere would learn in three years. That much condensed knowledge and experience is invaluable, so here is my effort to condense it even further. Now that I've been officially hired as an assistant account executive, here are my six tips for a successful internship.
- Wear your swim trunks… because you’re going to jump right in. An internship at LCWA is like being pushed into the deep end of a pool; while some interns are getting their feet wet in the industry by fetching coffee for others, I’m over here completely submerged in direct media contact, account brainstorms, and my own huge amounts of coffee.
- Keep it diverse. They say you become like the five people you spend the most time with, so make those five people as diverse as possible. As an intern, I have had the opportunity work on a variety of accounts with many different kinds of people. Put the time in to listen to different people pitch, read releases for the same client but written by different team members, and take stock in how the differences may suit each case best.
- No pun intern-ded. While that pun is definitely not my best, I have found my creative use of language helpful in everything from punny release titles, to spinning stories to relate to specific publications, to rapping about PR for my coworkers (“I’ll release that release with real ease like its greased, getting press so loud you can barely hear these beats”). Find your own way to tap into your creativity, your clients and your coworkers will appreciate it.
- Eat a burrito. You’ve got an hour for lunch in one of the greatest cities on earth. Don’t eat a sad desk lunch alone in front of a screen you see all day, but eat a burrito while walking through Millennium Park in a juxtaposition of waterfront and skyline. Get some vitamin D. You’ll be glad you did.
- Make it personal. At the gym, when I am sore and sweaty and tired and don’t think I can make it through the last minute of cardio, I just tell myself “It is only a minute. You can do anything for a minute.” A three month internship feels like a minute—so use it to push yourself. Take up a new hobby, try a new workout program, cook a new meal every week. You’re going to grow professionally, why not use that three month time frame to grow personally too?
- Break through the noise. This last tip is less about interning in PR and more about the communications field as a whole. The world is supersaturated with brand messages being shoved down consumers’ throats. We all see so many messages every day, that we have developed an automatic response to shut everything out as we click the ‘skip ad’ button. How can you make your message stand out from the others? Be genuine. You break through the noise immediately when you are communicating not as a businessperson, but as a human person. Take stock in what your audience (broad market or individual on the phone) cares about; you will be rewarded for it every time.