This blog post was written by our intern Yaseman Pourhashemi.
We have all heard that internships are the best way to gain experience before taking that leap into those “big boy/big girl” jobs. Whether it’s an unpaid or paid internship, interning is the best way to get a taste of what a full time job will be like.
If you are a frustrated student still in school, a recent college graduate or are interested in what my experience was like, here are some points to live by.
1. Don’t be afraid to try different internships. Any experience is great learning experience. Both of my internships were very different, which I think is best when you aren’t quite sure what route you want to take with your degree. My experience at the Convention and Visitors Bureau in Flagstaff sparked my passion for PR. I loved contacting media to boast about Flagstaff. Being passionate about what you’re representing is definitely a plus. After graduation I got a taste of the advertising world. I was fortunate to work with such a creative team at Moses, a marketing and advertising agency in Phoenix, and to have one of the best managers out there. (Shout out to Chris Fiscus!) I learned about the advertising agency world and how being creative is not limited to one outlet. Both internships I feel have shown me very different sides of PR.
2. Sure, you have some experience in your field. But don’t think you are a pro! You have to start from the bottom. After two internships and graduation, I thought I was ready for the big world, so I started the application process. I applied to many jobs out there. A change in location wasn’t a problem for me, and any job in the communications field would have been great. After all, I have my bachelor’s in Strategic Communications, was involved in multiple clubs, joined a sorority and had a part time job in my field. Who wouldn’t hire a well-rounded graduate? Problem: there are millions of students that graduate each year, most of them with the exact same “college résumé.”
3. Don’t give up. After months of applying and receiving rejection emails, I noticed a trend. Many companies stated that it was crucial for candidates to have their bachelor’s degree, which I have – awesome! BUT… big B-U-T, you need at least 1- 2 years of experience in that position. How in the world are we supposed to earn the experience if we don’t get hired? Frustration at this point was an understatement. But I kept on trucking, sending my résumé to every public relations, marketing, advertising and event planning job out there.
4. Network, network, network! No matter what field you are in, building relationships with other professionals in your field and outside of it is very important. For me, I focused on volunteer work during my free time. I was fortunate enough to work in the PR group for the San Diego Film Festival, meeting some great people, including the ladies from Zenzi. I loved meeting them and set a goal of working there. Then I went to work repeatedly contacting Melissa. I sent her an email with my résumé and followed up. Then I followed up a week after that, and then a week after that. Annoying? Yes, very annoying but, going back to point #3, I didn’t give up. I finally managed to schedule an interview with Melissa and that’s when the whirlwind began…
1. Agency life is no joke! Working for an agency like Zenzi has completely opened my eyes. These are some hardworking ladies! This internship has been a lot different from any other internship that I have ever had. It is very fast paced, and definitely keeps you on your toes. You need to be able to manage different clients and execute everything perfectly. After all, you are representing the client.
2. ‘Yes’ is always the answer. As an intern, you need to take any task you are given and do the best you can. Of course, you won’t know how to do everything, but that’s why you are at the bottom of the totem pole. You are there to learn, so don’t be scared to ask questions. That includes attending any meeting, trip or mail run you are given. Show your employer that you are a hard worker. How else are they going to learn that you have an awesome work ethic?
3. Anticipate the needs of your client and your employer. This is something that I learned in the hospitality industry. Think of yourself in their situation. How would you like things done if you were in their position? Think about every possible scenario so that when some situation happens to pop up, or they ask for a certain number or document, you already have it ready. Obviously, it’s easier said than done, but it’s not a bad thing to keep in mind.
4. Do your best. I know, I know… the phrase we all hear from our parents and teachers on the first day of school. Internships can be overwhelming and stressful, but at the end of the day, you are there to learn. Turn in your assignments, be there on time and be as professional as possible. If you feel like you are struggling, talk to your manager. That’s what they are there for. Most of all, have fun with it! This is what you have worked your booty off in college for. This is the beginning of your career. You can only go up from here.
So far, my intern life experience has made me anxious, excited and curious of what my future PR career will be like. But I guess like anything else in life, you’ve got to take it one step at a time. You have to absorb everything and hope that it sticks when you need it the most. Bring it on PR world, I’m ready for ya…I think!