How to Use Your Internship to Develop Your Skills as a Young Professional

I’m not going to lie, being an unpaid intern can be tough, but it’s also the most rewarding part of an education in public relations. It can be difficult on the days where your boss points out a mistake that you’ve made or when you don’t do as great as you had hoped. With that being said, I’ve compiled a list of ways to improve as an intern and maintain confidence on the days where you feel like the worst.  

 

Mistakes will happen. Own up and learn.

Remember, you’re an intern – your coworkers know you’re new at this. You’re not going to be perfect and you will certainly make mistakes. If there’s any one thing I’ve learned from my internship, being detail-oriented is everything, which means there’s also a lot of room for error. When your boss points out a mistake, don’t respond with an excuse. Instead, apologize, fix them and work to ensure that they won’t happen again. Your boss would much rather you take your time to avoid mistakes than turn in sloppy work. Not to mention, when you catch those mistakes early, you’re less likely to do them again and you won’t feel like you’re struggling down the road.

 

Ask for criticism.  

Don’t feel like your boss is giving you enough feedback? Ask for some! You should want feedback on all projects during your internship. Constructive criticism helps you grow and better develop the skills needed to excel in your career and, occasionally, life in general. Part of being a good intern is taking initiative and that means knowing what you need to improve on. There is always room for improvement, so figure out where that is. If you want to be the best you can be in your position, then you should constantly be searching for ways to boost your skills.

 

Take pride in your work.

When your boss tells you that you did a good job, be proud of yourself – even if it’s something small. Just as you should be aware of your weaknesses, you should acknowledge what you do well. Use positive feedback as an opportunity to figure out your strengths and own them!

 

Treat every project the same.

Every project you touch is a reflection of your work, so do the best you can on everything sent your way. Whether it’s your favorite thing to do or your least favorite, it’s always important. Your team depends upon you and the work you deliver. The media lists I’ve developed during my internship directly affect the team members using those lists to pitch. Everything you do in PR is a piece of a larger puzzle and a puzzle isn’t complete without the missing piece. Don’t let your work be the missing piece.

 

When all else fails…

I’ll admit it, there will probably be a day where you make a monstrous mistake or, perhaps, a string of mistakes you wouldn’t normally make. Instead of getting down, take a deep breath, drink some coffee and remind yourself of what you’re capable of doing. There’s always another project for you to turn your day around, so focus your mind on delivering great work on a fresh task at hand. Remember, learning through your mistakes is why you’re here.