Making the Most of Your Summer PR Internship

Landing an internship in public relations, whether in-house or at an agency, is a great way to explore the field of communications and kickstart your career. It’s an internship like no other, where you’ll have the opportunity to play an integral role on a team by providing support on a variety of tasks, from media monitoring and reporting, to brainstorming sessions and content creation, and learn the ins and outs of the industry.  

Keep in mind these five tips to help you make the most out of your summer internship in public relations! 

Be open to learning. 

Whether it’s your first summer internship, or your fourth, treat each workday as an opportunity to learn something new. Every company, agency, department, and even colleague, operates differently, and that’s a good thing! Though challenging at first, these differences can actually work in your favor. Being exposed to new ways of research, monitoring, and media relations, for example, can help you to develop your own methods and techniques that you can hone over time and utilize in your next role.  

Remember why you’re here: to learn about public relations. By opening yourself up to new experiences and ways of completing tasks, you can more comfortably grow in your career – no matter the industry! 

 Say “Hello” to everyone. 

In the early days of your summer internship, take time to introduce yourself to everyone on your team, or, if you’re at a smaller-sized firm, your company. The hybrid nature of post-COVID working conditions has made this task much easier, and even less nerve-wracking – thanks, Zoom!  

Reach out to people at all levels of your organization to schedule a quick 10–15-minute chat to simply say hello, introduce yourself, share your experience and interests, and ask questions. Due to the nature of internships, and PR, you might not otherwise have the opportunity to connect with these people, so take advantage of your free time during your first few weeks to get to know your colleagues – who knows where the connection might lead you one day.  

Ask questions. 

This one is essential. Practice active listening and ask thoughtful questions. Perhaps a task doesn’t make sense to you, or you’re unsure how to complete it in an efficient way, or, you simply want to know the why behind your work – ask! Jot down questions to bring to your supervisor or colleagues. As an intern, you may not have the opportunity to sit in on every meeting, client call, or brainstorming session, which means you may need additional context to help you successfully complete your work, and your colleagues understand this. Optimize employee communication resources, like Slack or Microsoft Teams, to quickly connect with your teammates and gain the clarity you need to successfully complete your work.  

Even if this is your fourth summer interning in PR, there is always an opportunity to ask a question and learn something new. These conversations may lead to new opportunities in the end.    

Check in regularly with your supervisor.  

Take advantage of every check-in, touch base, or regroup that you have with your supervisor throughout your internship. If the company you’re interning for doesn’t schedule these regularly, feel free to take the lead and request a bi-weekly, or monthly, meeting with your supervisor to touch base on tasks, questions, and hiccups. These meetings can help you gain a deeper understanding of your work as well as your clients, and offer you the opportunity to show your supervisor, and, in turn, your company, your interest in learning and growing within the field of PR.  

These brief check ins can also act as career mentoring sessions. Optimize this meeting time by asking your supervisor career-focused questions, discuss your strengths and weaknesses, and share which tasks you find yourself enjoying and excelling at. Before you know it, your internship will be coming to an end, so make the most out of every meeting opportunity while you can! 

Communicate effectively. 

Strong, effective written and verbal communication skills are essential to succeeding in the PR industry. Deadlines are everywhere, and, naturally, you may find yourself overwhelmed at times. When it feels like there aren’t enough hours in the day to complete your tasks, or you’ve made progress on something but are now stuck, communicate your status with your teammates by sending them a quick email or giving them a call! A lack of clear communication surrounding assignments can create unnecessary uncertainty.  

Keep your colleagues and supervisor in the loop by providing brief status updates when tasks begin to feel unmanageable – they’ll be happy to help you prioritize assignments and may be able to offer advice to get you unstuck!  

A summer internship in PR is a great way to hone and develop a number of skills, from research and media monitoring to relationship building and confidence development. Keep these five tips in mind as you prepare to begin your internship and build off of them once it starts. Remember, what you put into your summer position is what you’ll get out of it – so make the most of it!  

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