This past summer I decided to challenge myself and applied for my first public relations (PR) internship at Breakaway Public Relations. I was so proud of myself when I heard I landed the position and excitedly awaited my first day. At first, the different software, programs, lingo and clients overwhelmed me, but eventually, I got the hang of it and was confidently leading activities that were impactful for Breakaway and its clients. Diving head-first into the world of PR taught me lessons I could have never learned without this opportunity. Here are five of the top skills I learned throughout my fall internship.
1.Juggling multiple projects
Breakaway works with many clients, which means there is a lotof multitasking to keep each campaign running smoothly . Some clients have a few big events every few months while others have smaller events or promotions every few weeks. The key to managing this circus-level juggling: organization. To help me stay on track, I keep a list of tasks to complete each day and each week, plus a list of long-term or ongoing tasks, though these are usually available in a location that is team-accessible. Staying organized results in spending more brain power on clients, and less on figuring out what you forgot. Additionally, solid organizational skills will help with other critical skills needed in PR.
2.How to Prioritize
With so much juggling, I had to learn quickly how to prioritize tasks. Just because something is assigned first, doesn’t mean it should be completed first. The Breakaway team is just that, a team. If people are relying on you to finish a task so they can review it and send it off, that extra review time needs to be factored into the schedule. Additionally, it’s important to respect your colleagues and give them adequate time to do their portion of the task. Consider the people relying on you, urgency level and effort required of the tasks.
3.Social Media Scheduling
Once again, organization plays an important role in this lesson. It’s best to schedule social media posts a few days ahead of time. I generate ideas for posts about a week in advance, then create and schedule them as soon as possible. Sometimes news pops up that would be a better post than what was planned, and that’s when you get to practice flexibility! Managing a social media calendar can sometimes feel like a puzzle; the goal is to find the best day possible to share a piece of information with the world.
Internships are a way to help learn a new industry and get hands-on experience with tasks you don’t have the opportunity to work on otherwise. At Breakaway, everyone was eager to help and teach me. Ask follow-up questions if you don’t understand something. If training isn’t automatically part of the internship, ask to be taught a software or skill you are unfamiliar with. Nobody expects you to know everything. Taking initiative and being curious will help you improve as a professional.
Doing something for the first time can be daunting, but if you do it once then you never have to do it for the first time again. Challenge yourself by volunteering for more tasks or by offering to take the first stab at a task that is a new experience for you. When you receive feedback, remember it and continuously implement it. Just applying for an internship can be a challenge. Attempting new things and exposing yourself to rejection will make you better than you were yesterday.
My time at Breakaway has been transformative to my career, education and personal growth. The lessons and experiences I gained from my time as an intern are indispensable. This internship was the first step of many in my career and I’m so grateful for the people who guided and supported me through it.