Let’s face it, the job market is beyond competitive for incoming young professionals, and having a competitive edge is crucial. Regardless of the path you choose in PR, internship experience is vital to your success after college.
There is a difference between being an average intern and setting yourself apart from others. This not only helps you grow as a professional, but also represents to employers your future professional abilities.
Here are five pieces of advice I have picked up in my four years of interning to help you get the most out of your experience.
Remember that your reputation will follow you.
If you decide to slack off because an internship isn’t the right fit, the chance of another opportunity presenting itself will be significantly decreased. On countless occasions, I’ve made connections between my employers. Developing a negative relationship with one employer could have ruined my chances with the other.
As an intern, you are there to learn and try new things. You may be uncomfortable with some of the tasks, but that’s why you are an intern. If your employer expected you to know everything, he or she would have hired a full-time employee with multiple years of experience. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and learn something new.
This follows up with asking questions. Give your employer status updates on completed work and ongoing projects. This gives your employer the chance to offer you feedback and make sure expectations on each side are clear.
As I mentioned, tasks and expectations have differed significantly with each of my internship experiences, and I’ve grown by receiving feedback. It is among the most constructive ways to learn. If you’re not receiving feedback from your employer, don’t be afraid to ask. This will help you to grow as a professional as well as help you address and conquer your weaknesses.
Build your portfolio.
Most importantly, internships can prove professional abilities. Just writing the name of an internship on your resume does not show future employers what you learned during these experiences. Keep writing samples, communication plans to which you have contributed, and any type of work that represents your skills.
A great internship experience can be the foundation to a great career. Each internship will offer something different and taking advantage of these opportunities will give you the competitive edge for which young professionals strive.
Follow Mandie Emerson on Twitter @amandaremerson. A version of this story first appeared on the blog prTini.