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Expectations. Also known as those bars you set for yourself (and sometimes others) that always have a way of jumping out of the box and surprising you.   

Leading up to my first day as an intern in the Weber Shandwick Seattle office, I thought I knew what was coming. As my first PR agency gig, I was certain it was going to be different than anywhere I had interned in the past. Boy was I right.  

In what ways, you ask? Below, find my four unexpected takes on (and takeaways from) my Weber Shandwick internship experience.

Relationships

Starting a job at a new place can prove difficult for anyone, as you’re stepping into an already-established culture with hopes that you mesh with the vibe. I came into Weber knowing that I was going to meet some fantastic people. However, I didn’t expect that I would have the chance to build relationships and learn from some of the most creative, intelligent and hysterically funny individuals – many of which I can see being lifelong friends.

Key takeaway: Be open. And most importantly, be yourself. You never know where your personality will take you. As my colleague Britney said in her recent post, “let your freak flag fly,” for each differing personality contributes to the incredible and transcendent work that is produced here at Weber Shandwick.

Learning

According to Merriam-Webster, an intern is defined as “a student or recent graduate who works for a period of time at a job in order to get experience.” Sure, I knew I was going to gain relevant PR experience. But, I didn’t expect to be plopped into position that allowed me to work on a worldwide tech account and coordinate one of the largest global conferences in the industry. Talk about valuable!

Key takeaway: Soak it all in. Keep in mind this is a learning experience. Everyone’s human and, believe it or not, everyone makes mistakes. What’s most important is to be able learn from each and every step you take – regardless of the situation. The truly amazing thing about agency life is that you have endless opportunities right at your fingertips. You can never stop learning.

Responsibility

This is one aspect I held very little expectation for – and undeniably the one that has taken me most by surprise. Often times, interns aren’t given much responsibility, especially when it comes to owning larger tasks or leading project management. I didn’t expect to be given so much responsibility and trust on the account. On a day-to-day basis, I feel as if I’m just another member of the team.

Key Takeaway: Be confident and have trust in your abilities as a professional. Your mentors and colleagues are giving you opportunities because they want to see you succeed – so don’t be afraid to step up to the plate. Demonstrate that you can stand out and thrive in such situations.

Fun

An acquaintance of mine once said, if you find nothing wrong with your job, there’s something wrong with you (negative way to look at it, I know). Not that I anticipated dreading coming to work every morning, but I did always ponder the extent to which one could realistically enjoy their job. That being said, I didn’t expect how much I would truly enjoy this internship. I have found myself waking up in the morning with an itching excitement for what the day has in store (and, I’m not even a morning person).

Key Takeaway: Have some fun. Obviously work comes first. But I believe fun comes second. Having a balance of the two is important in creating a healthy and successful work environment.

When all is said and done, in this crazy and ever-evolving world of PR, you never know what you’re going to get. Just remember to be open, soak it all in, trust yourself and have some fun – and like me, you might come to find your internship unexpectedly rewarding.

Kaitlin Monnahan is currently an intern at Weber Shandwick Seattle. You can find out more about Kaitlin either on her LinkedIn profile or via Twitter @kaitlinmonna.

Image courtesy of March Falardeau.

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