After working at my first internship for about a year, I’ve learned valuable in-office and quite a few life lessons. As a marketing and PR intern, I completed hundreds of hours of computer-based work such as: tracking media mentions, drafting and posting content on social media, data mining to create lists of people to reach out to or for specific events, newsletters or media pitches. In those rare lulls of billable client hours, there was downtime that was filled with mind-numbing tasks: making umpteen copies, cutting and labeling photos, ordering and unpacking office supplies, or simply organizing hard-copy files. The number one lesson I learned; always be hungry for work. Even if it is dull or tedious, there is always something to be done. Here are a few tips:
1. Show up on time or call if you’ll be late. Enough said. Millennial or not, this tip should be common sense. Apparently some of my generation didn’t get that memo.
2. Always bring a pen and paper into our meetings. The number one, most important thing is to WRITE EVERYTHING DOWN. I am incredibly grateful that I am a pen-and-paper kind of gal. I love keeping lists of everything I do or have done. Mostly so that your boss doesn’t repeat their instructions more than once (or worse, don’t be the intern who asks to borrow a pen and paper), but even more so that you don’t forget to actually finish the project itself.
3. Realize that there is much admin-related support work. Your attitude about an internship really plays a large role. If you are dissatisfied doing assignments that aren’t directly related to your ideal career, it will make your internship unbearable. The admin-support related work breaks up your day and often times, you learn life-skills that aren’t typically addressed. It is helpful to understand that the job description bullet point, “other duties as assigned,” can vary widely. Attitude is everything!
4. Ask questions, especially if you don’t understand an assignment. Many interns fear asking employers questions because they are worried that they won’t seem smart enough or that they are unable to understand or recall instructions. And make sure the work you do meets the deadline as close as possible, this will wow your employer and clients more than anything.
5. Start and build your LinkedIn profile now. After managing profiles at my internship for clients, I have learned that it is important to keep it updated, post articles and share content related to your career, and add new folks to your network. And don’t use a party-style photo as your head shot. I’m working to spiff up mine this summer. As a millennial who had never worked in an office setting before, I learned how to fax a letter, weigh and stamp postage, and come to the conclusion that my cursive handwriting is almost useless.
These small tasks, along with the major marketing and PR duties I’ve learned, have taken the knowledge of my major further than I envisioned from an internship role. Hopefully these tips will help your summer internship go smoothly!
I am a full-time student at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, TX that is working towards a bachelors in Psychology. I am a part-time intern at MPD Ventures, a marketing and PR firm in Uptown. I spend my days as a millennial on social media at home for fun and luckily, at work too. Find me on Twitter @kristinareljaa.