6 Tips for Surviving as an Intern

As a brand spanking newbie to the fabulous FORWARD team, I have had a whirlwind 3 weeks diving headfirst into the ‘real job’ world. Although Uni was a great and valuable experience for me and I loved learning about interesting new media theories, the real world of boutique consumer PR and influence marketing isn’t like this at all. Shock horror! From my experience as an intern in the Public Relations field (this is my third agency experience), I have gathered some helpful tips, tricks and insights into surviving your transition.

  1. Ask questions. Intern is literally defined as “any official or formal program, to provide practical experience for beginners in an occupation or profession”. You are there to learn, questions are the best way to absorb all the knowledge your colleagues hold. A good question to keep top of mind when being assigned a project, is to always ask for the deadline. This will avoid any awkward mishaps, and allow effective time management and prioritising. Just be mindful they say there is no such thing as a stupid question, this is a trap, please think things over before you ask for the tenth time where the scissors are. Similarly, endeavour to group your questions together to avoid interrupting the busy work schedules of your colleagues.
  2. Be proactive. Being proactive is a good character trait that can be applied across numerous professional disciplines and life experiences. If you know something falls within your capabilities and needs to be done, do it. Similarly, if time allows, don’t be afraid to go above and beyond when completing a task. So go on, don’t wait to be told…show the team what you can do.
  3. Pen and paper (or iPad) are paramount. Having these simple stationary supplies by your side at all times will vastly improve your strike rate. Details are often important in this line of work (read: very), and having a reference point for the 12 different pies you have your fingers in will be a lifesaver come 4pm Friday ‘fried brain’. Don’t be afraid of taking notes and the humble list, relying solely on your brain is risky business.
  4. Be switched on. One of the first, and best things my mentor did, was link me to a range of PR and influence newsletters that I could sign up for (e.g here and here). Staying on top of industry news and views is a must in the fast-paced media industry, seeing all of the cool and exciting things being accomplished by industry peers also reminds me why I worked so hard to get here in the first place.
  5. Google maps and comfy shoes. These boots were made for walking, to the Post-office, the Caterer, Officeworks… It’s not all dreary, the great outdoors can be a welcome change from the office environment.
  6. Be a smiling, friendly face that says yes. Stay positive and the hard work will pay off. Having a great attitude towards your work and your colleagues will go a long way. Yes, you have a degree. Just remember everyone around you started off in the exact same position, doing all sorts of odd jobs and errands around an office much like where you’re sitting now.

If all else fails, keeping top of mind the official FORWARD values of fun, fast, friendly and flexible will see you through.