Going into my first internship, I’ll admit I was nervous and wasn’t quite sure what to expect. I had heard some intern-horror-stories from friends – weeks spent making copies, going on coffee runs and errands, sitting around wondering how to make themselves useful. That’s what you think of when you hear the word “intern”. You certainly don’t think of packing up Smokey Bear dolls to ship to NASA, seeing OneRepublic sing at Good Morning America’s Concert Series or indulging in a piece of a “tooth-shaped” cake for an Oral Health campaign launch. But luckily, that’s some of what “intern” included for me.
For eight weeks, I was an intern with the Public Relations and Social Media department here at the Ad Council in their New York City office. Of course, most of my time as an intern was filled with more “typical” projects. I drafted press releases, wrote blog posts, compiled press lists, attended a satellite media tour, observed meetings and so much more. I’m sure for many people at the Ad Council, these things have become normal tasks that aren’t always exciting, but for me I enjoyed being involved in each of these things. Why? Because, for me it was the first time that I got to understand how the things that I’ve been learning about in textbooks and lectures translate into the real-world profession. It was great to be immersed in the advertising and public relations world and experience it first-hand, and it was so helpful for my learning to be given the responsibility of doing some of these projects on my own.
Some people from home probably thought I was crazy. “You’re going to move to New York City all by yourself, to take an internship?” My answer; absolutely! And looking back I wouldn’t trade it. This summer internship has been an amazing experience – getting to work with such an impressive and respected organization (and of course getting to live in one of the coolest cities in the country.) I have learned and grown so much, both professionally and personally.
So what have I taken away from this experience and what advice would I give to other interns?
1. Observe, observe, observe. The people you work with have knowledge about the profession that they can share with you. Learn from their expertise and allow them to teach you the things that have helped make them successful.
2. Ask questions. The experience is meant to be a learning experience. Learn all that you can about the profession, the company and everything that goes on to make it run smoothly. Nobody expects you to know everything, but they will expect you to care and be motivated to learn, so don’t be afraid to ask questions. But that being said…
3. Think for yourself. An internship is about preparing yourself for the transition from a college career to professional career. In the real-world there aren’t always people to walk you through every step of a task – sometimes you have to use your own brain to problem-solve. The best way to learn is by doing, so give everything your best effort and don’t be afraid to try.
4. Keep busy. The time will go by quickly, so make the most of it. If you’ve completed a task, then ask for more. Better yet, be aware of things that need to be completed and take the initiative to work on them to help someone else. You should want to contribute as much as you can to the organization as a whole.
5. Enjoy it. Get to know your co-workers and enjoy the time you spend with them. Yes, you’re there to learn and accomplish tasks, but you’re also there to enjoy it!
I’m thankful that the Ad Council gave me this amazing opportunity, and I’m appreciative of the way they treated me – as a valued addition to their team, and not just someone to complete tedious tasks. I’ve loved my time here and I’ve enjoyed getting to work with so many fun people! I’ll miss you guys!
(By the way: people at the Ad Council love getting cookie cakes for special occasions… thanks for giving me one for my last day! Delicious!)