As college students prepare to graduate, many are stressed out about finding full-time employment in the fields that they studied. Finding a full time job after graduation is no easy task. Finding a job you love can be even tougher. Post-graduate internships can prove to be an amazing learning experience and a great foot in the door for recent grads.
I had the opportunity to join the intern team at PAN last fall after I had already graduated and it didn’t take me long to realize that this was the place I wanted to grow my career. After a few months, I was thrilled to be offered a full-time position earlier this month.
Turning an internship into a full-time career is not a given. As a recent grad entering the workforce, we always hear from our more senior peers about how important it is to make an impact and provide value. I worked hard in my internship at PAN to do just that. So how do you do it? Below are seven takeaways from my experience going from intern to Junior Associate with PAN that I think recent grads can learn from. I am sure there are more, but starting with the approach below, it can help you find your “first real job.”
- Be proactive: Reach out and offer to help, always. There will always be someone who will take you up on your offer and appreciate your initiative. Even if it keeps you at the office later or requires you to “hit above your weight,” proactive-ness is always desired in any organization.
- Ask questions: There’s no such thing as a dumb question. If you do not understand an assigned task, ask for clarification; it will save time and show your teammates you are there to learn. My first day on the job I was assigned to a client that is in the cloud industry – went through everything with the person I reported to and she asked if I had any questions. Of the many questions I could have asked at that time, the first one that came out was “the cloud is the thing I back my phone up to right?” Once she explained to me what the cloud was and that was out of the way, everything else on the account was a breeze.
- Don’t be afraid to make mistakes: They are a learning tool. If you make a mistake own up to it and come to your managers with a potential solution. They are there to help you learn and grow and you grow by learning from your mistakes.
- Write things down: PR, like many other businesses, is fast-paced! It is so easy to forget an email that needs sending or a media list that needs updating. Keep a list and refer to it throughout the day. Plus, it feels great to cross things off your list!
- Participate: Being the newbie can be intimidating at first, but the quicker you can establish yourself as an active participant of the team, the better. Talk about what you know and ask questions. And if you are vying to get into a public relations firm, don’t be shy—it’s a people business! PAN is a very social place, everyone has lunch in the open area, at first I wasn’t comfortable joining – but once I finally gave in, it was one of the best decisions I made. PAN has amazing people, so getting to know them has been a great experience!
- Check in: Make it a point to check in with your senior team members for regular feedback. It helps you understand your strengths and weaknesses and shows you are serious about your development. Also, at PAN, interns are assigned mentors; scheduling frequent meetings with my mentor was important to me because she was able to provide feedback from members of my teams, while also suggesting ways to improve.
- Be patient: There are so many factors that go into hiring decisions. The waiting game can be tough, but the best thing you can do is continue to grow and add value. I was an intern at PAN for six months, it comes down to taking advantage of the position you are in. I had some of the best resources in the industry at my fingertips; there wasn’t a day that went by that I did not learn something new. All good things come to those who wait!