As public relations majors, having experience is key. Without an internship — or two — under your belt you may find yourself struggling to find a job after graduation. The experiences provided through an internship are invaluable, and oftentimes the skills you build can’t be learned in a classroom. Searching for and securing internships early in your college career will only help you in the long run, and having as much experience as possible will help boost your resume.
Once you have landed your first internship, the first couple of weeks may be challenging and it might take time to adjust to the company culture. It might also be difficult to see the value your work is adding to the company immediately. However, I can assure you the work you’re doing is important.
When I began my first internship, I was shy and didn’t openly share my ideas or concerns. After a few weeks, I realized I needed to make the most out of my internship and started going to my manager with different ideas. She loved a lot of them and allowed me to produce the quarterly newsletter by myself. I was also given the opportunity to be the photographer for the biggest event of the year. This is something that I wouldn’t have been able to do if I hadn’t spoken up and showcased other skills I have. It is also important to take full advantage of every opportunity because you never know what it might lead to.
Communicating in an office setting is also something you may have to adjust to. It is not the same as communicating in college. In the real world, if you need to talk to someone you don’t just go to his or her office or shoot them a text, you might need to set up a meeting and send or receive a follow-up email about what was discussed. You want to keep it casual but professional at the same time. It’s hard to gauge at first, but after you get acquainted with your co-workers you will get a better feel of how to communicate with each one properly. Everyone is busy, so if they don’t get right back to you find something else to work on because it might take time to respond.
Finally, just because your internship has ended doesn’t mean those relationships have to end. Keep in touch with your managers and co-workers because they are your references. I’m not saying you have to email them every day, or even every week. Sending a casual email once a month to keep the relationship going is all it takes. This way when you apply for your next internship or job you can ask them to speak on your behalf without it being awkward because you haven’t spoken in six months.
Internships are a great learning tool for landing your dream job. Be bold and take every opportunity given to you and run with it. You will be so happy that you went out of your comfort zone to achieve your goals.
Kayla Cook is a senior communication and public relations major at the University of Indianapolis. She is currently the communication intern for the Alzheimer’s Association of Greater Indiana Chapter and also a staff writer for The Odyssey. Connect with her on Twitter @kaylaa_cookk.