Transitions: Student to Intern

The transition from college student to intern isn’t easy. I should know, I made the switch three weeks ago. It’s an adjustment, to say the least, but it is doable. Here are a few things I’ve come to realize that have helped me adjust:

My first few weeks as an intern were exhausting. Until this point most of my jobs have been pretty mindless. An eight hour work day where you are required to use your brain and knowledge will be tiring after jobs where you don’t. I learned the hard way that midnight is not an appropriate bedtime anymore. Give yourself a break and go to bed a little earlier. It will help you work harder and feel less mentally exhausted at the end of the day.

Lucky for me, I’m not required to wear a suit everyday. I know it can be hard to feel comfortable in work clothes when you’ve been so used to maxi skirts and Birkenstocks throughout college. Look for things that can double as work and play clothes with an open mind, and you may be surprised to find you already have a lot of items that will work for both. Consider the clothes you do have to buy as a professional investment.

It’s true what they say; nothing prepares you for the real world like living in the real world. What we’ve been learning in class is relevant, but you can’t become a rock star at media pitches until you actually start pitching to the media. Appreciate your time as an intern, because it could very well be the most valuable tool you have to prepare yourself for a career.

Don’t ever be afraid to ask questions. This is your opportunity to work with professionals while still wearing the “newbie” hat that allows for a few mistakes here and there. A good supervisor will want to help hone your skills. If you don’t ask questions then a) you might not be meeting your supervisor’s expectations and b) you’re not learning anything. Isn’t that the point?

If all else fails, remember: an internship isn’t permanent. It can be viewed as an experiment, if you will. If you love what you’re doing and where you’re working like me, you’ll have proven your hypothesis that, indeed, public relations is the right field for you.

By Noelle Pickler, Intern


Summer 2012 Intern: Noelle Pickler

Our Summer 2012 intern, Noelle Pickler, of Ball State University.

If you’ve ever applied for a public relations internship before, you know the drill: insanely early deadlines, late nights at Kinko’s and stress induced hair loss by the second month of your search.

Public relations students persevere because a) perseverance is laced in the DNA of any great PR professional and b) good luck finding a job if you haven’t had at least one internship.

I, too, was one of the PR students camping outside of the university printing department and pulling out my first gray hairs before I landed an internship at Shank Public Relations Counselors, Inc.

Take my word for it, finally receiving and accepting an internship offer is well worth the hard work. Nothing beats it, except maybe the free bagels and the bragging rights you garner from being given your own office.

I’m no internship expert, but with a clear, semi-stress free mind I can look back at my long search with perspective, both the things I did right and the ones I did not. Allow me to elaborate:

1. Make sure your writing samples are strong: Before I chose public relations as my area of study, I fancied myself as something of a reporter. Writing has always been something I enjoy doing, and luckily I’m decent at it. When it came time to put my portfolio together I included tons of writing samples, bordering on too many, but I knew they were strong. Writing is a major part of what an intern is responsible for, so don’t neglect to show your strengths in your portfolio. Even a short news release written for class can boost your portfolio, because if it’s good it’s good, right?

2. Don’t be afraid to be innovative: You’ll hear a lot of opinions when it comes to designing your resume, portfolio, branding yourself, etc. It’s hard to say what is correct when the experts can’t even pick one way to do things, so don’t forget that your opinion matters. You and I may not be experts yet, but I knew how I wanted to present myself to potential employers. I designed my resume to be unique, representative of me and memorable. With some agencies, it might have been too far from status quo, but it obviously worked out for me in the end. Be confident in who you are, because someone will appreciate it.

3. Don’t settle for a position beneath you: That’s right; it’s my opinion that there are some positions beneath even an intern on the public relations food chain. You know, the internships where you spend more time fetching coffee and shredding papers than anything else? It’s true that internships may not always be glamorous, but your time is still valuable. Chances are you’re good at what you do, and the right internship will respect your strengths, helping you hone them as you go. An internship is one of the best educations you’ll receive and learning how to make double sided copies is, let’s face it, elementary.

I can say with confidence I’ll leave Shank Public Relations Counselors having learned immensely and enjoyed thoroughly. I’ve already been given two large writing assignments, had the opportunity to attend an event for one of our larger clients and I definitely can’t complain about my mentors here. I’m so glad I waited for this opportunity, plus did I mention the bagels?

By Noelle Pickler, Intern