With hoards of students graduating every year, securing a work placement or internship is a must. In fact, we don’t think that’s stressed enough during education. Sure, you could graduate with a first class honours and land a very good graduate job. But without any experience beforehand, how do you even know what you’re getting into? Because you’ve read textbooks? That’s like reading a book about how to ride a bike and expecting to just be able to do it. The reality is, you need to practice and you need the experience.
Competition is fierce, so once you do nail down that dream placement, you want to make sure you’re making the most out of your time there, whether it’s for a week, a month or longer.
Do your research
First and foremost, you have to land an interview and once you have, please, please, please do your research. Apply for somewhere you really want to work (if you’re not very bothered, it will be easy to suss out) and make sure you know all there is to know about the company and the work they do. It’s unlikely you’ll get asked to list every single thing they’ve ever achieved but you should always be able to discuss which campaigns or ideas you thought were successful and why you thought they worked. I know this sounds like a lot, but if you’re interested in the industry you’re applying to, it will be a doddle.
Before you arrive, email your boss or your company contact and double check if you need to take anything for your time there. Most companies will have computers or laptops available for you to use, but imagine if they didn’t and you were sat there all day with nothing to do? Usually for something this detrimental to your working day, you would be warned in advance, but it’s always best to check. Once you’re set up, map out your daily or weekly jobs and how you plan to accomplish them; being able to prioritise your workload is a great skill to have and it will come in handy when you’re given multiple tasks to complete. You want to go above and beyond, not scrape by doing the bare minimum, so think outside the box and pay attention to what kind of tasks can help your supervisors and colleagues. If you finish a task, ask for something else. Do not just sit there reading the Sidebar of Shame on the Daily Mail or browse Topshop for your holiday clothes.
Ask for feedback, take notes and listen
One thing you’ll learn pretty quickly is that most PR’s always have a notepad to hand. So, if you don’t have one then make sure you get one, and always keep it with you to jot down everything, including daily tasks, instructions and feedback. Yes, technology is great but there’s nothing better than a hard copy, in case, god forbid, your MacBook breaks down. It can seem tempting (and easy) to nod eagerly in response, but actually listening is important. You should be taking your feedback into consideration and actively thinking of ways to improve.
Complete every task to the best of your ability
This is the most important part. It doesn’t matter if you’re packaging a pile of samples or inputting new data onto a spreadsheet. Every task should be taken on like it’s a privilege; it doesn’t matter if you don’t think it’s important, if you’ve been asked to do it then it obviously is important to your employer. It doesn’t matter if you think it’s mundane or boring, you’re there to learn and get experience, which means you don’t always have the most glamorous of tasks at all times. So what? If you can’t put the correct label on a sample to be posted, then how are you ever going to be trusted to do anything more interesting? Remember, you’re the intern, not Beyoncé, and that’s okay: this is your time to put in the hard work. You want to be remembered for giving 110%.
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