A Tip for Tuesday – Working Hard, Not Hardly Working at the Internship

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*A guest blog from Katie, our Spring Intern*

So, here I am at HMA!

But how did I get here, you ask?

As a full-time, working college student, I think it is safe to say that at times life can get overwhelming.  Between the late nights studying, papers and everyday demands of life, there are times I find myself thinking, “Can I ever just catch a break?”  But as I look around and see friends and fellow classmates graduating, I can’t help but wonder if I am working to my full potential, or if I was allowing myself to fall under the “senioritis” spell?

Approaching my last and final year, I knew I had a decision to make.  Am I going to work hard, or be someone who is hardly working?  Refusing to become a senior that just slides through my final year of school, this past summer I took some additional classes, including one led by none other than Abbie S. Fink, HMA’s vice president/general manager, who taught me all about marketing and promotions.  With my goal of one day working in the public relations industry in mind, I made it a point to work hard and learn as much as I could from the class.  By the end of the class, I found myself eager to learn more and excited to jump at every opportunity possible.

Finding the right opportunity was easier said than done.  When I was finally ready to throw in the towel on my search to find an internship, I remembered HMA and decided to reach out to Abbie about internship opportunities.  Lo and behold, my hard work in the class along with sheer determination landed me my first internship.

It is now the spring semester, and I am proud to say I am officially a member of the HMA family, as their intern.  Only having been here a week, I am anticipating the projects and things that I will get to do and learn while I am here.  Just some of the items on my internship wish list:

  • Crafting effective story pitches
  • Establishing and maintaining client relationships
  • Enhancing my social media skills

I also sit here and wonder:

  • Am I cut out for a job in this industry?
  • Am I going to mess up?
  • Will I be good at this?

As I close out my second week here at HMA, I look forward to seeing the progress my hard work will bring. I would also love to get some tips from you all in the blogosphere about how to best take advantage of this opportunity as well as hear about your own internships. I will even take the horror stories! Anything you care to share?

Alison Bailin
Alison Bailin
Senior Account Executive Alison has a lot to say…about pretty much everything...all the time. From the current state of public relations to the social media impact on Shark Week to crisis communications in the sports world, Alison’s blogs are focused on “amusing through her PR musings,” and then some. Check out Alison's full bio

12 Comments

  1. Alison Bailin says:

    I would say that you have already accomplished one important mission of any intership – choosing one directly related to the skills you will need in your chosen profession. Me – not so much! While at ASU, we had an “internship day,” where we dressed up, presented resumes and interviewed with about 25 local PR, marketing and advertising companies. As a PR major, I took the best PR-focused internship offered to me, right?

    NOPE.

    There was an internship available helping to promote movie screenings in the Valley that paid interns in FREE MOVIES, and free movies for friends. I took it – and while it was a 1.5-year blast, I never wrote a single news release or pitched a story until my last few weeks on the job. Made it so much harder to sound like the brilliant person that I was while in real interviews for actual PR jobs after college.

    • Katie Snyder says:

      Alison- Hearing this story really puts me at ease. Knowing about your journey and how you got to where you are today really inspires me to work harder. It is great to know the team I work with has the experience and knowledge needed to really teach me what I need to know to be successful in this industry.

      I am so thankful to have this opportunity and can appreciate that I am learning from the best!

  2. Stephanie Lough says:

    While I can’t relate to Alison (I had some pretty awesome internships that “paid” in portfolio clips) I can relate to the questions you are asking. The answers are all YES! You’ve taken the first, and probably hardest, step by interning at a PR firm. Taking the initiative proves you are cut out for the job, plus, you can see what it is really like to work in PR rather than try to apply for a full-time job based off what the majority thinks PR is (you’d be surprised how many mislead college grads looking for jobs in PR there are!)

    Most importantly is you will mess up and you SHOULD during your internship. Sometimes that really is the best way to learn how to do something, and much better to do so in an internship where you are expected to learn. Always ask LOTS of questions, even if your are 99 percent certain on the answer. We like to know that you are constantly thinking!

    The secret to a really successful internship is remembering everyone’s coffee order and you’re all set! Kidding…kinda (n/f salted caramel mocha extra shot).

    So glad to have you on board!

    • Katie Snyder says:

      Coming into this internship I knew it wouldn’t be easy, seeing as I have had no formal public relations training. However, I knew that this would be the only way to gain hands on experience and really learn what the industry was about.

      Asking questions is something I do very well, as I am sure you and everyone here at HMA has learned. You all are very helpful and encouraging, which as an intern makes my experience that much more enjoyable!

      Thanks for tips Stephanie!

      Now I know what to do if I am ever on anyone’s bad side in the office! Coffee anyone? My treat.

  3. Rachel Sutherland says:

    Katie, it sounds like you’re already setting yourself up for a successful internship! I graduated from Cronkite last year and was able to complete a summer internship at a small agency, in addition to working part-time as a communications manager for a local business.

    My advice to you:

    As Stephanie said, don’t be shy about asking questions! If anyone gives you grief over asking too many questions, you’re in the wrong place. (I know you won’t have that problem at HMA.)

    Be open to finding new talents. Sometimes we think we’ll fail at something, and it turns out to be a strength. That’s how I felt about calling reporters and news desks. I was terrified at first, but then my supervisor complimented me on my phone skills and I began to look forward to it.

    And, of course, read everything you write a hundred times, then spell-check and read it backwards — whatever it takes to minimize misspelling, typos and grammatical errors!

    Good luck and enjoy the wonderful company you’ve joined.

    • Katie Snyder says:

      Thanks for all the positive tips Rachel. Being terrified is a feeling I am familiar with. Although, the more I work with the team here at HMA the more than fear goes away.

      Anytime I write something I read and re-read it what feels like a million times. Even after doing that I wonder sometimes if I missed anything. Again, the more comfortable I become here at HMA and the things I am doing, I am sure my belief in my abilities will increase as well.

      Again, thanks for all the great advice and tips!

  4. Jessy Mekpoh says:

    Katie,

    Thank you for sharing! I graduated from the University of San Francisco last May with absolutely no PR experience, but thanks to networking (of course!) and a decent journalism background, I was able to get an internship at Landis Communications Inc. Well, it’s been one of the best professional experiences I have ever had and in five months, I have learned almost all the basics of PR. I am working with amazing people who help me develop my skills and want me to grow every day.

    If I can give you a few tips:

    As Rachel said, be open to finding new talents. I used to feel so uncomfortable answering the phone, until I had to pitch about 50 reporters/editors in one day for a client. At first, I was very nervous, but then it felt more natural and I even secured media coverage. Now, pitching is my favorite PR task.

    The following tip was given to me by my boss, David Landis: take notes…constantly! Do it when someone directly asks you to work on something and during staff and clients meetings, whether you’re part of the conversation or not. Taking notes will help you remember what you have to do (as you mentionned it, we get easily overwhelmed in this field) and stay on top of things.

    Lastly, if you have some down time, ask everyone in the office if they need help with anything. Doing so says a lot about your work ethic and shows your sense of initiative.

    Hope these tips help. Enjoy your time at HMAPR and make the most out of it.

    • Katie Snyder says:

      Jessy, thanks for your story. I can definitely relate to what you went through. Not having any previous experience in the field can make a new job intimidating, as I am sure you know. This is my second week here at HMA and already I have learned so much. I love being challenged with new projects!

      Finding new talents is something I am really excited to do! With all the different projects and opportunities I have here at HMA, finding something I am good at and enjoy shouldn’t be hard.

      Thanks for all the tips Jessy!

  5. Mark Roden says:

    Katie:

    You will do well. You’ve got a couple things going for you that are critical:

    1) You are part of a great team. We’ve been a client of HMA for a number of years, and always proud to tell people that they represent Subway. The response is always positive.

    2) Most importantly, you care. I know it may seem impossible, but one of the biggest faults I see today in recent college graduates is they truly only care about the next step, not the job they are currently expected to do.

    I saw a quote the other day from the CEO of Costco, who said he never tries to make the same mistake five times.

    If that doesn’t make any sense now, it will soon 🙂

    Welcome to the best PR company in the Valley.

    • Katie Snyder says:

      Thanks Marc! HMA is such a great team and I am already learning so much as an intern here. I am only in my second week and have been able to do projects I never thought I would be able to do.

      As a college student, I thought it was really important to get experience in the field I was interested in before I graduated. HMA has welcomed me with open arms! They are more than willing to answer any of my questions, and believe me there are many!

      I am really excited to see what else is in store for me here at HMA!

      Thanks for the encouragement!

  6. Alison Bailin says:

    Some addition comments from Facebook fans:

    Trudy Thompson Rice I was an intern at the Fort Worth Star Telegram and answered the phone at the pm news desk…..the phone would erupt and people would give me a location and a number…..”Stephenville 1.2″ and hang up. First time it happened, I dutifully wrote down all the information and worried about what to do with it…..I had just finished a piece on numbers games in the city and thought this was surely a big clue as to more criminal activity…..when I finally got brave enough to show the list to the night editor, he said “finally–the rain gauge reports are here.”

    Peter Madrid I tell our ASU Cronkite interns to use the resources available to this generation (i.e. the Internet) wisely, and not as a crutch or easy way out. I tell them there is still nothing like good investigative journalism. The days of doing research at the cop shop, city hall, and library are behind us. How many young journalists know what a TRS80 is? (Hint … it was made by Radio Shack!)

  7. Alison Bailin says:

    Mark – thanks for the thoughtful responses. I could not agree more about the caring comment. It reminds me of Leslie Mann in Knocked Up when she tells husband Paul Rudd – CARE MORE! It seems like such a simple concept, but if one doesn’t care, they won’t. If they do, they always will.

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