By Cassie Kiene | August 12, 2019
What seems like a very short while ago I stepped off of the BART and up into the streets of the very intimidating Financial District of San Francisco. As I made my way with businessmen and women on the phone, bags and briefcases in hand, walking with purpose, I couldn’t help but feeling like an outsider. To put it bluntly, I stuck out like a sore thumb with my baby face, but I schlepped on for the next nine blocks.
As I reached the kiddy corner from the office I decided to order a Starbucks for many reasons — one, I was 30 minutes early, and two, I was hoping my iced coffee would help me stop sweating like a pig. With it being my first real internship, I had no idea what to expect and my mind was racing with worst case scenarios. Looking back it is comical how nervous I was in thinking that my coworkers weren’t going to like me, or that I wasn’t going to be good enough for the job and would eventually be let go. I would imagine it would take a lot for someone who is just learning to be fired from their internship, but never say never.
Nonetheless, as most people do, I tried to prepare myself and imagine what my internship would look like, but there was no way to know for sure. In this blog post I have written a few tips for those about to begin their own internship adventure. If you’re anything like me, hearing what previous, or present, interns had to say with their experience was the most beneficial when it came to preparing for my own internship.
Embrace the learning curve.
It’s okay to be confused and possibly even frustrated that you don’t know everything yet. This is all normal and it’s okay to feel this way. With any job, getting the lay of the land takes time. As I end my time here I’m still learning new things and I think that’s the best part about PR. We are in a field that is constantly changing and evolving and you have to change and learn with it.
If you feel like you don’t know what you’re doing, you’re probably doing it right.
I have learned so much more by feeling as though I had no idea what I was doing and spending my time researching and figuring things out on my own. Don’t get me wrong I have asked my fair share of questions (thank you to my very patient coworkers), but if there is one piece of advice that I would give any newbies looking for an internship in PR, it’s to try and challenge yourself by looking into things on your own. Also, your coworkers know that you may not understand how to accomplish projects with perfection, that is the whole point of having an internship. What skills would you gain if you aren’t being challenged?
There are a lot of acronyms that you should store in the back of your mind (or your notebook).
I started my own glossary in the back of my notebook for acronyms and abbreviations that were new to me just in case I forgot what something meant. Acronyms are very useful in the PR world and are necessary when they are consistently used in brainstorms, client calls, pitches and press releases. People in this industry are very busy. From the wise words of my coworker, “be brief, be brilliant, be gone”. Having a cheat sheet of acronyms will help you with those three things.
The PR you’ve been practicing in class may not be the same PR you will experience.
There are plenty of exercises professors make you practice, but some of the skills I’ve learned in school don’t really pertain to my internship. However, the skills that I am using, and have previously learned, are not as simple as they were in class. The information is not given to you, and you have many more hoops to jump through in terms of working with a real client that wants specific key messages for their story. What they don’t tell you in school is that real-life PR is a lot of research and hard work, and it will only get harder.
You will be reading the news a lot. Like A LOT a lot…
Trying to get media coverage on your client requires a lot of research and reading the news for what is already being talked about or searched. This might seem boring at first, but I finally feel in the know not only about my client’s target audience, but world news in general, which is never a bad thing. The great thing about news is that there is always something new to learn about each day, and you never know it may spark your next great idea!
…and lastly, don’t expect the same routine day after day.
This is by far my favorite part of this internship. Although there are similarities between the days, each one brings something new and exciting. Whether it’s a new pitch idea, client wish, project or something fun planned for the office employees, I think PR is the perfect space for those who like to switch up their routines and remain on their toes.
I’ll leave this blog with some simple advice: you can’t enjoy life if you take yourself too seriously, and take every moment as an opportunity for growth!