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Interns and Intern Managers: Creating a Mutually Beneficial Relationship

Internships

An agency internship is a two-way street. It benefits interns who come away with a solid public relations foundation and basic entry-level skills. But internships also prove beneficial to an intern’s manager, who comes away with management experience and abilities that can carry through the course of their career.

Having been on both sides, I’ve compiled some tips to keep in mind to ensure a mutually successful internship.

Find the time

Tip for the intern: Even if your internship hours are 9:00am – 5:00pm, make the extra time to attend agency events or industry conferences. This will help raise your visibility within the agency, allow you to share your knowledge about industry trends with your managers and coworkers, but most importantly, it will show your manager that you want to be there.

Tip for the manager: If you’re having a busy day, it’s still important to take the time to walk your intern through a project. Taking that extra five minutes can be the difference between an intern making or breaking a project.

Communicate

Tip for the intern: If you’re feeling overwhelmed with too many projects, or if you’d like to tackle different kinds of projects, don’t be afraid to speak up. Your manager is your advocate who can help you tailor your internship experience to fit your desired needs.

Tip for the manager: Make sure to communicate when you have assigned a priority project. Since interns aren’t always integrated with client accounts, he or she may not know when a project has an urgent deadline or not.

Set expectations

Tip for the intern: Think about what you want to learn and gain from your internship before your first day. If you know what you want going into it, you can work closely with your manager to make sure you meet those goals, whether that’s drafting a writing sample or mastering entry-level public relations skills.

Tip for the manager: If you expect interns to complete a weekly report, or compile a daily news scan, outline their specific responsibility and the deadline so he or she can take ownership. In addition, if you expect the intern to arrive a certain time, make sure they know to arrive on time in order to keep up with morning tasks. 

Provide feedback

Tip for the intern: Don’t be afraid to let your manager know how you like to be managed. If you prefer that your manager is more hands on and checks in with you after each project, let them know. If you prefer the opposite approach and favor a weekly check in instead, that should be communicated as the internship progresses.

Tip for the manager: If an intern is consistently performing well, provide that feedback, which can motivate and allow them to ask for additional responsibility. Alternatively, if the intern is turning in work with typos or some other type of error, you need to let the intern know.

Mutual trust  

Tip for the intern: It’s important to place trust in your manager and believe that they know what you are capable of. For instance, if you think you’ve already mastered a key skill, trust that your manager has a reason for asking you to continue to develop it. Also, if you think an assigned project is too hard, trust that your manager knows that you’re ready for it.

Tip for the manager: Sometimes it can be hard to let go of projects that you were responsible for, and transition that ownership to the intern. It’s important to trust that once it’s thoroughly explained, the intern can own and complete the project. Micromanaging only wastes time, so it’s vital to place faith in the intern so you can focus on other projects. 

Keeping all of these things in mind can ensure a successful internship that is mutually beneficial to both parties. The intern can walk away with a great experience for their resume, along with acquired skills that can one day allow them to join an agency as a full time entry-level employee. And the manager will have developed key management skills such as working to set goals, checking in on progress, and evaluating overall growth and progress.

Do you have any additional intern or manager tips to add to our list? Let us know in the comments below. If you’re looking for opportunities to progress your PR career at a global agency, check out our latest opportunities.

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  • Zsuzsanna Matyák

    Having completed quite a few internships in PR and journalism, I also learnt that it is very useful if the intern doesn’t only set expectations alone of what to gain from the internship but they set them together with the manager. So both of them know where they are heading for together.