So You Wanna be an Intern


Being an intern is a valuable and rewarding experience, but balancing work, school and a personal life is more difficult than you think. Part of being an intern is learning to manage your time and prioritize your work so everything gets done, but also to keep your sanity. Don’t think your life will be rainbows and sunshine while working and finishing up your degree.

That being said, being an intern and learning from professionals while finishing your degree is arguably the most valuable thing you will do while you’re in college. I have learned more in the first month of my internship than I ever could have in a classroom. The reason? I’m engaged with what I am doing. The context of what I am learning is determined by me and how hard I want to work.

pr-professionals-jugglingProfessionalism, work ethic and self-reliance are essential in an internship.  No one is going to sit there with you and hold your hand after he or she gives you a project to work on.  You can’t go back to people over and over with minor questions, so think on your feet and learn how to find the answer yourself. If you can’t find it, ask another intern; if the intern doesn’t know, check Google; and if you can’t find it on Google, take initiative and do it the way you think it should be done, then ask for feedback. You’d be amazed with how far a little initiative will go.

Finally, learn how to unplug.  As PR students, we are taught to always know what is going on.  For most of us, that means being plugged into the pulse of social media.  The way I decompress is by turning my phone off (not vibrate, not silent, but powered off).  Let your friends know if you must, but turn it off and go for a run, or a hike, or anything to get yourself outside and moving. Clearing your mind and relaxing in your off time will allow you to get the most out of the learning experience without burning out.

Here is a list of tips for balancing work and your personal life from WebMD.

Nick Smith

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5 Responses to So You Wanna be an Intern

  1. lockerobster says:

    I love your straight-forward view on life – keeping it real! After being in school for so long, it’s easy to become complacent and just follow the status-quo. However, just taking a little initiative goes a long way.

  2. Jordan LJ says:

    Reblogged this on Jordan Littlejohn and commented:
    Being an intern can be tough. Tons of work and no pay? Sounds like a great time to me….said nobody ever. Internships give you something much more valuable than monetary pay. Internships give you experience and a running head-start, which is something that in my eyes, is priceless.

  3. kttodd says:

    Thanks for the tips, Nick! I especially like your advice about learning to unplug–that can be one of the most difficult things I think about working in a PR/journalism related field, because there’s always something happening and so much of it is based on timeliness. Plus, it’s easy to get in the habit of checking your phone every few minutes for new stuff. But it’s important to take a break, even for a little bit. Lucky for us, the weather has been great the past month or so, and that’s usually the only excuse I need to get outside.

  4. Great post, Nick! The part about not asking a million little questions is very true. I think I have learned by working things out myself or self-administering skills or programs that were once unknown to me! Time is a valuable thing. The sense of independence this program offers is great, but I do realize how busy we are. It doesn’t hit me until Friday, when I not only realize it’s already the end of the week, but also how I have my internship on top of 14 other credits. I should try the whole “unplugging” thing more often.

  5. Summer Luu says:

    Nick, I definitely agree about the unplugging yourself a bit from the media world and breathe–that’s the only way we’ll be able to recharge our batteries. As well as the part about how this internship has taught me more than what a year of college has already because I’m outside of that college bubble and working at my internship, I’ve definitely seen a whole other side of marketing and business development that I couldn’t of learned at school.

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