I was really lucky to have landed an internship at a small agency called Aigner/Prensky Marketing Group for the summer after my freshman year. I had basically no experience and only a few introductory courses under my belt, but they decided to take me on as an intern and I couldn’t be happier.
Since the agency is so small, I really got to work with everyone from my fellow interns to the two heads of the company. I started off small, scanning articles featuring our clients to log in our data base, adding event listings, and sending out pre-written pitches. Slowly but surely I learned everything from how to put together a media list to writing press releases. It was really great to see my work go from drafts that needed dozens of edits, to more polished pieces that only needed a few smaller changes. One of the big accounts I did a lot of work for, the Food Truck Festivals of New England, is completely run by the agency so I was really lucky to get a small taste of event planning for the festivals and to see the effects of all the PR work I did.
Obviously a first internship is the first real world experience you’re going to get in whatever field you’re interning in, so there are always going to be a lot of new skills to learn. For me, it was all the basics of PR, plus a few tips on event planning. In addition to all that, I learned a few other things that I think are really important to always keep in mind.
1. The first draft is almost never going to be the last. There are almost always going to be changes, edits, and updates to make to any press release or piece of work. At first I was a bit discouraged when I saw all the edits my supervisor wanted to make to a release I wrote, but I soon learned that it’s all just part of the process, like writing an essay for school. Even after a release has been finalized, sometimes the clients change details and you need to be able to go back and quickly make changes.
2. The 3-C’s of pitch emails: clear, concise, conversational. Obviously with a pitch you want to get the point of the pitch across to the media as clearly as possible in an email they can quickly scan and understand. It’s also important to make the pitch feel like telling a friend an exciting piece of news as opposed to a boring lecture.
3. If you’re confused, try to figure it out, then ASK! Internships are about learning how to work in a specific industry, so no one expects you to know everything. Most supervisors would rather you ask questions about anything that’s unclear than have you spend an hour doing the wrong thing. While taking on more responsibility as you get more experience is fun, the goal is always to keep learning and there’s no better place to do so than people who are working in the industry you want to learn about.
Basically it’s important not to put too much pressure on your first internship. Like all internships, it’s not about labeling exactly what you want to do for the rest of your life, but about learning more about a specific industry or area of an industry. I loved my experience at the agency, and I look forward to learning more skills at future internships and expanding on the skills I gained this summer!