The first day at a new internship is undoubtedly intimidating. You are young, inexperienced, and having second thoughts about your first-day-of-work outfit. Do yourself a favor and use those nerves to your advantage to give yourself the best learning experience possible. You are in prime condition to be sculpted into the PR professional you’re destined to be.
1. Don’t be a lost puppy
You will not be thrown over the side of the boat and expected to swim on your first day. Take advantage of the first week or two to ask all questions that cross your mind. Your employers are happy to show you the ropes. Any tasks you are given will become much easier and get done much more quickly once you fall into a comfortable routine. Learn how to problem-solve on your own, but don’t allow yourself to waste time when you can simply ask someone to help guide you in the right direction.
2. Always say, “Yes”
You might have a lot of work on your plate, but your supervisors always have more. Never turn down a job. Accept any projects thrown at you and find a way to manage your time to get it all done – even if that means skipping lunch. That does not mean overload and miss deadlines, however. Be honest with your supervisors about your workload and they will help you prioritize. Ashley put it nicely: “you aren’t saving the world.” Everyone has those overwhelming days, but you will get everything done! Take a breath and knock out one job at a time. It always feels good to cross another thing off that to-do list!
3. Your notebook is your best friend
Take notes in meetings, make lists, jot down project guidelines, deadlines, tips, useful websites, client information…everything. Nine out of ten times you will be asked to refer back to Joe Shmo’s number from two weeks ago and you’ll be glad you don’t have to waste time hunting it down again.
4. Pick up the phone
Yes, it is intimidating to start making phone calls in a room full of professionals. Swallow the stage fright and pick up the phone. It is often the quickest and most efficient way to dig up information or develop relationships.
5. Avoid boredom
Sitting at a desk pretending to look busy is far worse than being swamped with work, even the most menial of tasks. Not only does this reflect poorly on your work ethic, but it will also cause your day to drag on much more slowly. Log out of Facebook and ask your supervisor if there is anything you can help with – that’s why you’re there.
6. Watch and learn
The best lessons come from hands-on experiences. Internships are a great opportunity to gain such experiences before landing a full-time job. Observe the people around you. Notice the language used and the attire worn in the office. Study the format of client documents and the manner in which your employers speak on the phone. Hone your skills as you go, and you will be surprised how much you learn by simply paying attention to the office environment.
An internship is largely what you make of it — you get out what you put in. This goes for any unique situation you find yourself in, be it social, academic, or professional. Take what you’ve gained from those experiences and dazzle your future employers!
- Samantha Santola
Beckerman Intern Summer 2012