What it means to be an intern


I am usually one that works really well under pressure, or so I think. I like having multiple tasks going on at once so I can time manage everything to complete my work on time. Coming in to my internship with a Public Relations agency I thouTime-Managementght I was for sure going to be thrown into open waters as they sat there and watched me try and stay afloat. Maybe that is a little too dramatic, but I was excited to get new assignments and prove myself with the many jobs I would be given.

Not logically thinking the process through I wasn’t given as much as I anticipated. The internship and Portland Senior Experience is all a learning process that isn’t going to happen over night. It took me awhile to realize that I work for a company with real clients. This isn’t J495 with a “real” client that may or may not use your strategic communication plan, these clients rely heavily on the work we do.

Once I realized that the work I am doing is being published for a company it got me thinking, I needed an attitude check. Last weeks reading assignment from “They don’t Teach Corporate in College,” by Alexandra Levit talked about adjusting your attitude and it will make your experience better. I felt like I wasn’t contributing to the company in the way I hoped. I was looking to dramatically influence the professional world and impress my colleagues. But after my reading I realized my work wasn’t the issue, it was how I viewed what I was doing that was getting in the way.

Some things Levit said that stood out to me were:

– Set goals for the day

– Manage your time strategically

– Fine tune your writing, speaking and listening skills

All three of these areas helped my work day become more productive and meaningful. I could be doing more “intern” tasks than what I am doing now. I have assignments and jobs and don’t have to run my bosses errands for him instead of work. My perception of what an intern was wasn’t based on what I was accomplishing throughout my day, but its the way I handle my work and my performance in the office that will stand out.

Piper Criscola 

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6 Responses to What it means to be an intern

  1. Piper,
    I can really relate to this post. I went into this hoping for all these big assignments and tasks, but at the end of the day there is a reason we are interns and still in the learning process. We haven’t had the experience that our peers have, and we need to do the basics first and just listen and learn. As the song goes, we can’t always get what we want, but if we try sometimes, we get what we need!

  2. kevinjloder says:

    Success requires knowledge and hard word, but enjoying the joinery requires the right attitude!

  3. I can relate to wanting to jump right into the thick of the job and show everyone that I could handle anything thrown my way. With our first taste of a “real” journalism job, it’s easy to want to step into a position that in reality can take years to reach. You have a good point about letting our work ethic and commitment to the job shine the most, in whatever task we are doing. That is something that should motivate us all and will help us reach the level of professionalism we aspire for. Thanks for sharing!

  4. I think its really powerful to be able to look at a citation that objectively. Good for you 🙂 I have noticed similar challenges in my internship as well. I love that you are trying to have a positive attitude and focus on what you can do that is in your control. Having strong writing, speaking, and listening skills is huge and defiantly something you can work on when ever you need extra work. Very inspirational post!

  5. keegansch says:

    It’s also worth noting that if you knock the small tasks out of the park, you’ll often get handed those bigger, more important jobs.

    Personal example: I was recently handed a project that was fairly technical and required a lot of fact-checking. It was time-consuming, but at its core very simple. I was given a week to do it. I buckled down, gave it my all, and got it done in three days. My supervisor was impressed, and the next assignment I got was an actual, byline-carrying spot in the magazine.

    I know there are differences between PR firms and publications, but I’d be surprised if that didn’t at least prove somewhat true in your case, too. After all, our bosses at these internships don’t have any history with us – it’s up to us to show them what we’re capable of.

  6. It’s really easy to forget about the big picture of things, especially when you’re an intern. It can also be especially hard to remember that you’re there to learn and have to take each small assignment with gratitude because the company respects us enough to give us an assignment rather than to get their coffee everyday. I really like your reminder to set goals, manage your time and to fine tune your skills; these skills can easily get lost in the chaos that is being an intern.

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