As some of you know, I started an internship at the beginning of this summer to get my foot in the door as a first year student. I’m happy to report I’m still there and working part time on a month-by-month basis! It was such a shock to receive the offer because they knew I was going back to school, but still tried to keep me around. It was such an amazing experience this summer—and I wanted to share it with you!
First, I want to explain that the process of getting the internship was difficult from the start. I was a first year student with some great success from this blog and my content, but I was still someone who had no formal experience in the industry. On paper, I knew I sounded like a gamble.
I had put out at least 30 applications as a PR, communications or marketing intern across Toronto and came up with ‘No’ or more often, no response at all. In the same day, I had two requests for interviews. I nearly threw up from being so nervous.
If you’ve been on this site long enough, you know what’s coming next! Here are my three key things I learned about internships:
Understand that in an ideal world, an internship is meant to benefit you more than it benefits the company.
We had one-on-one chats every week to talk about how things were going, how the workload was, and most importantly—how I felt. Did I feel like I was learning something new? Was there a project floating around the office that I wanted to get my hands on?
There are a lot of jokes about how interns are tasked with getting coffees, printing documents and menial tasks. Mine was definitely not that–I worked directly on client campaigns, coordinated events and made sure to touch as many things as possible. Which leads me to my next point,
Get involved in as many things as you can, so that the moment you’re gone—people notice.
This goes down to the little things: I ran the dishwasher every evening and unloaded every morning. I reorganized the recycling and garbage system to make it more efficient. I always played music for the office throughout the day. These weren’t expectations for me—these are very minor details that I inserted myself into in such a way that the second I didn’t do it, you’d know. Even in bigger things—I’d get emails on non-work days for certain items my colleagues knew that I knew. My value became apparent both in my presence and in my lack of it.
When the going gets tough, tell someone.
The most challenging things about being an intern is that you are an assistant to everyone. Which is good because you get to cross disciplines and learn many different things, but it also means that no one person knows how much you have on-the-go. One person needs your help organizing a deck, another needs a content calendar out this week, another needs a byline proofread in the next hour. To a single person, they’ve only asked you for one task. However, four other people did the same thing—suddenly, you’re drowning.
There are a lot of romantic ideas of “always say yes!” or “keep your head down and make it happen!” but there is a limit where you’re stretched thin and won’t provide a few pieces of great work, but rather many pieces of average work. Knowing this limit doesn’t make you weak, but it actually (and this surprised me) makes you smart. This work can be distributed. It’s not the end of the world—but it might be if you don’t speak up.
It wasn’t easy, and I definitely got my gigantic foot through the door because of this experience. I was as fresh as they come—but I swore to them that I would try my absolute best. And here we are!
So that’s it! Have any of you done an internship before?
How did it go?
And if you have any questions or if you’re starting one soon, feel free to reach out!