This post is part of our new blog series that will aim to help young professionals land and make the most of their PR agency internships. For the next few weeks, expect to find useful advice and first-hand experiences from our bloggers and very own whiz-bang team of interns.

From time to time, I’m asked how I got started at Weber Shandwick Seattle. My responses generally vary from “my previous work experience” to “networking” to “pure and total luck.” While the truth may lie somewhere in the middle, my PR internship was the crucial entry point.

As my senior year was quickly fading into the rearview mirror, I realized that to acquire the type of PR experience that I desired – fast-paced, team-oriented work, tackling projects for globally renowned brands – I’d somehow need to crack into a big agency environment. My research and networking told me that my best shot would be to apply for an internship.

More than four years later, I like to think that was a sound strategy. As you look to get your foot in the door at whatever company, agency or organization that you’ve been dreaming about, here is my two cents about some of those myths you hear about internships:

Myth 1: Interns make copies, so you’ll be lucky to do any real client work.

Reality: While I can’t speak on behalf of every organization, I was an intern at five different organizations (four in college + Weber Shandwick) so I consider myself somewhat of an internship connoisseur. In each of my roles, my supervisor crafted a role for me as part of the team, giving me projects to manage and deadlines to meet. Especially in a challenging economic environment, companies are looking for smart, independent thinkers, who can take on projects and deliver results with little hand-holding. Use this as an opportunity to make yourself an invaluable resource to the team.

Myth 2: As an intern, you’re only allowed to interact with those you directly report to.

Reality: If you spend the tenure of your internship interacting only with the people you work most closely with, that would be a huge missed opportunity. Internships are as much about meeting smart people in the industry you want to get into as they are about getting relevant work experience. Challenge yourself to talk to someone new every week or ask the lead of an account you’re interested in to coffee – the more people you meet the more advocates you’ll have in the future.

Myth 3: All Internships lead to full time employment.

Reality: In an ideal world, companies would be able to hire every intern into a full-time role. Realistically, there are a number of factors that play into hiring opportunities. While this may not be the best answer, I’d encourage you to approach your internship as if you have already been hired on full-time. Approach every project, request and task with the same tenacity that you would if you already had a full-time role. Be proactive and open-minded – no tasks are too small to show that you can add value and be a team player. In the end, your internship is really what you make of it.

Image courtesy of JD Hancock.

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