Academic experience is invaluable. On the job training? Even better. However, being the intern can be intimidating, especially when you’re working alongside professionals who have been rocking the industry for years. So when I first began my internship at JJPR in May 2015, I knew I had to bring my A-game. I channeled my butterflies into excitement and worked hard to tackle every task sent my way with 110% effort. Samantha Jones depicted life in the PR world as all glitz, glam and mega parties, though I have come to find out it’s so much more challenging than she led on. So, without further ado, here are my top five takeaways and the best advice I can share with future interns or newbies in the communications field…
Don’t be afraid to ask questions, but be self-sufficient.
As the saying goes, “there is no such thing as a stupid question.” I have to disagree just a bit. Yes, asking questions shows that you are involved and eager to learn more. Being curious also shows you are critically thinking and engaging in your work. BUT, it’s important to do some of your own research in finding answers. The PR office is a bustling one, as we all work to meet deadlines and run off to meet with clients. I never want to slow down the process unless totally necessary. So before running to ask a coworker how to create a new Excel spreadsheet or how to start the printer, I always refer to our beloved friend Google, first.
Do the tedious stuff.
This one I cannot stress enough. As the intern, I am often assigned ho-hum, but absolutely necessary, tasks. Building media lists, distributing news releases and picking up pops from Sonic (*pop translates to ‘soft drink’ in Chicago lingo) can sometimes feel menial. In reality, these less than glam tasks are vital and are to be done graciously. Interns can do themselves and their colleagues a serious professional favor by bringing a “will-do” attitude to the office. Trust me, your coworkers and boss will notice your hard work and will be utterly thankful to have you in the office. So, take out the trash with a smile on your face! Don’t ever be too good for the grunt work.
You WILL make mistakes.
We are human, and humans make mistakes. That’s just the reality of life. This is no excuse to skip out on proofing an article or failing to double/triple check the date on a media alert before sending off, but it does mean that even when you try your hardest we still mess up from time to time. That’s how we learn. (*I am still recovering from the time I sent out a mass email that stated the news release was ‘alter’ instead of ‘attached’...)
To-do lists are your best friends.
As is your daily planner, Google calendar, color coordinated file folders, etc. What do these all have in common? Organization. To combat the overload of tasks and meetings, having a system of organization helps you avoid getting lost in the jumble. Keep an outline of tasks and to-dos to stay focused. Whether you go old school with a pen and paper, or use your Notes app on your MacBook, be aware of what you have to do in order to work efficiently and stay on track.
It’s tooootally okay to have a little (or a lot) of fun in the workplace.
Fun and work in the same sentence? Uhm, yes! Let me be the first to tell you, JJPR girls know fun. *Cue the mimosas at status meetings, puhlease!* Business is business, but that surely doesn’t mean we can’t mix a little spunk in the office. Especially in our industry, where we are constantly thinking of new and creative ways of doing things, fun is key. Forging real relationships at work can make you genuinely anticipate the start of each workday and also create some of the happiest, most productive employees! I can attest to this.
I can never truly express my gratitude for the lovely ladies of JJPR and all the wisdom and guidance they’ve given me. I truly have learned from the best. Badass CEO and #GIRLBOSS, Sophia Amoruso, summed it all up when she said, “You combine hard work, creativity, and self-determination, and things start to happen.” Go make things happen!