Life as an intern: Assumptions vs reality

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Amelia Edwards discusses life as an intern at Cole Lawson Communications and debunks some common assumptions about internships.

Assumption: You’ll be making coffee and photocopying documents all day.
Reality: It’s the old cliché – a bored intern sitting at their desk watching the clock and making coffee for their colleagues. Luckily, that’s not an accurate portrayal of an internship! Interns are a valuable resource and there is always plenty to do, so don’t expect to get bored. While you may be asked to do some administrative tasks, you’ll also be given plenty of opportunities to put what you’ve learnt at university into practice.

Assumption: You’re expected to remember everything you’ve learnt at university.
Reality: Every university teaches their journalism or communication courses differently, so most interns will have different strengths and weaknesses. Don’t worry if you’re less confident in some areas than others – when you’re assigned a task, you’ll generally be provided with examples and given the opportunity to ask plenty of questions.

Assumption: You’ll get no choice in the tasks that you’re given.
Reality: While there are some tasks that are only suited to experienced PR practitioners, you’ll still be able to work on a variety of practical tasks during your internship, from drafting press releases to compiling media lists and writing social media posts. Remember that your supervisor has probably done their time as an intern too, and will understand that you might want to develop a specific skill. Don’t be afraid to ask (politely!) if there is something in particular that you’d like to try.

Assumption: Your colleagues will be too busy to offer help or advice.
Reality: PR is a fast-paced and competitive industry, which means that you’ll be working with people who are creative, talented and hard-working. Instead of being intimidated by them, learn from them. Most people are happy to chat with you about their experiences and you’ll be surprised by how much good advice and interesting knowledge you can gain from them.

Assumption: University teaches you everything you need to know.
Reality: While a university degree will teach you lots of important skills, there are some things that you can only learn in the workplace. For example, brushing up on your interpersonal skills and learning how to speak confidently on the phone are both skills that you’ll need to develop on the job. Although it can be intimidating to do something that you’ve never done before, that’s what an internship is all about!    

Considering an internship at Cole Lawson Communications? Find out more about our internship program here