By Sadie Chapple, Client Coordinator, Enterprise Canada

In my last blog, I listed some tips for recent grads on how to land their dream job. This blog entry will focus on life after success — how to make the most of an internship (without screwing it up!)

An internship is arguably the best way to get your foot in the door in the PR industry. Classes and advice from teachers can only teach you so much — the real learning comes from hands-on experience in the field. But be careful — if you don’t take the right approach, you run the risk of wasting a great opportunity to learn.
Like any new venture, you will certainly make mistakes along the way — and people expect that! Being an intern is all about learning, and if you are trying your best, your dedication will surely shine brighter than any mistakes you may make.

Having worked with several interns here at Enterprise, and having gone through two internships myself, there are certainly some pointers I can think of that every intern should consider.

Here are a list of do’s and don’ts for interns:

1. Don’t forget your role in the office

Interview 101 tells us that it’s always a good idea to position yourself as a leader when applying for a job, but it’s important to know when leadership is needed and when it’s a good idea to sit back and learn. As an intern, your job is to be there for support to the staff and assist in any way possible. Certainly offer your opinion, but don’t be below any “lowly” tasks, either. Your boss will want to see that you can take direction and are dependable in any situation.

2. Do attend office events and networking opportunities

As an intern, you should always “jump” when presented with the opportunity to attend client, industry or office culture-building events. Attending client events will give you the opportunity to learn how events work, and show that you are adaptable. Networking events offer a platform to meet others in the industry, and office events will help built your relationship with those you work with.

3. Do be grateful

Being an intern, you’re often assigned menial tasks. Even though they may not be the most glamorous, remember that there is a learning experience in everything and be thankful for the opportunity. Also, always extend thanks when someone takes time out of their day to help you — whether it be in the office, or in your career.

4. Don’t be offended by criticism

In most cases, people will recognize that you’re just starting out in the industry and feedback will be presented in a positive way. However, some managers may present criticism in a less-than-pleasant manner. Try not to take this personally — stay positive and always remember that you don’t know what happened in that person’s day, or who they may be answering to. Take everything with a grain of salt and don’t be defensive. Managers will want to see that you can handle criticism and learn from it, all while maintaining your “cool”.

5. Do take advantage of all learning opportunities

Interns are frequently criticized for lacking initiative or not being proactive. It is important to remember that you are in the office to help, but also to learn. Show that you are eager. Think of ways that your supporting role can benefit you, such as offering to create agendas for meetings or taking meeting minutes. Taking notes is a great way to keep track of what you’ve learned and also shows productivity by generating minutes that will help your coworkers. Try to attend as many events as possible and sit in on any meetings you can. The more you immerse yourself in the work, the more you will get out of your internship.

Internships are no doubt intimidating, but don’t focus on being perfect. Focus on doing the best work you can and creating relationships with your coworkers. Be professional, but also let your personality shine through. Show them that you are reliable, proactive and eager, but that you can take direction and know how to work in a supporting role. Keep your head up and you’ll be in the corner office in no time!

The original version of this article appears on Enterprise Canada 

Sadie Chapple, Client Coordinator, Enterprise Canada 

A proficient writer and media relations specialist, Sadie Chapple joined Enterprise Canada in the fall of 2011. Sadie’s forte is social media advocacy, although her work experience includes writing various media materials, print copy and research reports.

Sadie graduated from Brock University in 2010 with a BA in English Language and Literature, and is a recent graduate of Niagara College’s Public Relations Program, where she completed an intern placement at the St. Catharines branch of the Canadian Red Cross. 

About Sadie Chapple

Media Relations extraordinaire. Social media junkie, long time advocate of trashy TV.

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