Written by Peter Padovano
I graduated from St. John’s University one semester ahead of schedule in January 2015 and saw it as an opportunity to gain a full-time PR internship. Since I excelled in my studies in Communications & Public Relations, I thought the transition would be a breeze. I also assumed that being a New York City native and working in Manhattan would make the transition easier. Spoiler alert: I was wrong.
Thankfully, everything worked out well and I’m now an Assistant Account Executive at Aspectus. For those who are just beginning – or preparing to begin – their first internship experience, here are some things to keep in mind before starting your internship:
Do NOT be afraid to ask questions. One thing you’ll learn as you move ahead in your career is that everyone has been in your position before. There is no question that is too stupid or insignificant to ask, and more often than not the people you work with are always glad to assist. You’re not going to walk in on your first day and understand everything you’ve been asked to do. Asking questions shows that you are taking an interest in learning the ropes and not just winging it.
Find a routine that works for you and stick with it. All internships are different, but it’s important to find out what work style suits you. Some will have strict deadlines and set schedules, and others will give you more freedom to work at your own pace. Find a routine that works for you and makes you most efficient. If you are given more freedom in how you can go about doing your work, a routine will help ensure you don’t fall behind on deadlines. It will also help you get more comfortable with the types of assignments handed down to you.
Don’t take the foundation for granted. Early on in your internship – before handling important client work (ex. pitching) – you might be handling more administrative tasks such as compiling media lists and editing briefing documents. At first these might seem tedious but keep in mind that these projects are an integral part of becoming a PR professional, and give so many opportunities to learn from your team. Through these press lists, I’ve learned which reporters my colleagues rely on and have relationships with. They have given me an opportunity to plan for my own pitching efforts and learn about relationship building between our team and key publications. Taking ownership of these assignments will make you a key part of the team and provide a foundation of knowledge for you to use throughout your career.
Enjoy your experience. Throughout college I’m sure you have been warned that you will need to get an internship in order to get a job. Don’t view your internship as a burden or a road block. After more than a year of interning for several different PR firms, the experience has been both invaluable and enjoyable. One thing you’ll realize when you begin working in NYC is that it’s very diverse. As a PR professional, you will be working with people from all walks of life and all parts of the world.
While interning here at Aspectus, I had the privilege to be part of a truly global firm. I’ve worked in several PR firms but being a part of Aspectus has been incredible. Do not be intimidated when thinking about working for a global PR firm; it will help to broaden your skills and make you a diverse PR professional. I’ve learned more about PR in the past year than I did during four years of college education. If you take the initiative and follow some of the advice I’ve given you will be on a good path towards achieving the same result.