How To Make the Most of Your Internship

A Great Internship Can Lead to a Great Job

Internship. Getty Images

Internships can help you learn about the inner workings of the industry while getting your foot in the door with a prospective employer. But you'll only get out of your internship what you put in it. Learn what to expect when you walk in the door and get the most out of your internship with these tips:

Research Your Internship Beforehand

If you're into writing press releases and working with the media, you're not going to be happy working with a graphic designer or copywriter in an advertising agency.

PR and advertising are different entities and it's important your internship is a good fit for you.

Be Professional

Most interns are in their early twenties and may not have worked in a professional environment before. Be respectful and show up in professional attire.

Many internships lead to full- or part-time positions within the company. The more you treat your internship as an opportunity to enhance your career, the better your chances of turning your internship into an opportunity for more responsibility and even a paid position.

Internships Don't Equal a Free Ride

Many interns go into the internship with the notion that they're not getting paid so it's not a real job. Not only is an internship a precursor to your advertising or PR career, it's your chance to meet professionals in the business and gain valuable contacts.

Be willing to work hard and do what is asked of you. Don't check for Emails from your friends, make personal calls or play on the Internet.

 As mentioned before, interns are viewed as potential employees. If you're goofing off now, the bosses won't think you'll be any different when they're giving you a paycheck.

Take the Initiative

Show your enthusiasm for the industry by asking questions and letting the proper people know what part of the business interests you most.

Being actively involved in your internship shows you can be a leader. During your internship you can do everything from writing press releases to help create an ad campaign.

Question Everyone

What's a typical day like for a Public Relations Director?

What does an Account Executive do? Are the copywriters happy in their jobs?

These are questions you need to ask. You're talking about your career here and this is your time to find out exactly what it's like to be working in a PR firm or advertising agency.

Don't Miss Time

Everyone gets sick and that's perfectly understandable. Missing once or twice during your internship is okay if you have to. But don't dismiss your internship as something you don't have to take as serious as a job just because you're not getting paid.

Most interns are getting college credit and you don't want a report to follow you back to your internship director. Plus, you could secure a job for yourself or burn your bridges. Remember, professionals in the business you come in contact with during your internship can help you get a job at their company or somewhere else.

Be a Leader

Get your hands messy and get to work. Don't settle for making copies when you could be writing a brochure, designing a print ad or organizing a media event.

Ask your supervisor for more responsibility. Always ask what you can do to help and ask others what you can do to help them as well.

Don't Fade Into the Background

Speak up and make suggestions. You don't want to be a smarty pants but don't think your opinion isn't valued just because you're an intern. If you have an idea, share it. Just be sure you can back up those ideas. Don't bash a team's ad campaign just because you don't like it. Make suggestions on how they can make that campaign even better.

An Internship Isn't Like Showing Up for Class

You're there to learn but you're not there to sit in a corner and observe.

Interns who only observe are often forgotten. It's the interns who get just as involved with projects as employees, if not more, that stand out.

Your Ticket to a "Real" Job

In your internship, you could encounter the president of the company, the Creative Director, the PR manager as well as copywriters and graphic designers. Any one of the people you come in contact with at an agency or PR firm could be the key to getting you a job in the industry.

Hard workers get noticed and get jobs. These are people you can use as references after your internship is over. You always want to make a good impression. An internship is a great opportunity to learn more about your chosen career. It's only as good as what you make of it and your time will be over before you know it. Spend your time wisely and your internship will be your first step to a successful career.