Diary of an Intern #1

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Hi, my name is Elizabeth but most call me Lizzie. I am 24 years-old and I have been working in the PR industry for just under 4 months. I had previously interned at another smaller PR agency where I gained the valuable experience I needed to secure my current internship with onechocolate communications. I am working on the consumer brand team – supporting client account work across toys & games and consumer tech. When they asked me to write a diary of my experience – warts and all! – I jumped at the chance….

Why did you want to do an internship in PR?

I left university a year ago with a degree in Costume Design and Making, which I absolutely loved. I am passionate about being creative and making costumes but I also wanted to try out new things. PR seemed like the obvious choice as it allows me to utilise my creative skills, whilst gaining insightful knowledge of a working pro-active press office and learning about the media landscape. Doing an internship is a great way to discover if PR is right for you (you’ll soon find out if it’s not!) as well as giving you the flexibility to move between agencies to get a taste of what types of client accounts you like working on.

What do you want to gain from your internship?

During my three-month internship here at onechocolate I hope to help my team secure lots of great coverage in different types of media. Getting our clients’ stories and products out there for the public to read about is such a buzz. I’m also fascinated to see how an idea thrown out in a team brainstorm can turn from a concept into a full blown, amazing campaign!

What does your day-to-day job involve?

A typical day for me involves calling journalists, from lifestyle magazines to specialist bloggers and media such as parenting blogs and wedding sites. My job is to let them know about our clients and their products and also to find out what makes the journalist tick. I also do lots of other tasks from researching trends and hot topics in clients’ markets to sending out samples and logging coverage – there’s definitely never a dull moment!

How does agency life compare to what you imagined?

After my experience at my last agency, which was smaller than onechocolate, it was nice to step up in size. If you embark on a career in PR, you’ll never be twiddling your thumbs, looking for something to do. There’s always a task to complete or someone to help and, as an intern, you need to stay on your toes to keep up with the fast pace of agency life. But it’s really sociable and supportive too. The consumer team are a very friendly bunch and on Friday afternoons, we get together with the B2B team and chat about the highlights of the week over a glass of wine, which is a lovely way to start the weekend.

What surprises have you encountered at onechocolate?

There weren’t any big surprises for me as I feel my previous internship prepared me for the role. However, I would say that onechocolate has really let me get stuck in with projects, which has made me feel valued as an intern and, of course, I’ve learnt so much as a result!

What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced so far?

I would say the biggest challenge a PR intern needs to overcome very quickly is to not be afraid to pick up the phone to talk to journalists. Of course, at the beginning, it is a scary task when you are still learning (and if I’m honest I still sometimes get nervous). I find that if I make sure I have all the relevant information I need in front of me I feel a lot more confident and, as we all know, practise makes perfect!

What’s the most valuable thing you’ve learnt so far?

I have always been an organised person, which is definitely an asset when working in PR. I have learnt the importance of being on top of your tasks and being able to juggle different client projects. On a practical note, I had never filled out timesheets before, which has really made me aware of the importance of time management.

What are the most important things interns need from an agency?

When I arrived, I was immediately given a three-week schedule of different training sessions. I felt this demonstrated that onechocolate was investing in my learning and development and, of course, it was extremely helpful in getting me up to speed as quickly as possible. It is so vital to have the support of a great team and know that you can always ask questions no matter how big or small, which I really feel I have here at onechocolate.

What are your top tips for other graduates looking for internships?

Find a company that cares about its interns: look for structure and clear goals, whether it is a paid role or not, and establish how long the contract is for.

Don’t settle: If you end up in an internship where you are learning nothing, try to find another and move on. Internships are a two-way deal!

Find your role: Don’t know what you want to specialise in? Try different types of internships. That’s the point of them after all!

What do you most want to achieve?

My main goals are to test myself, fulfil my potential and take chances. I want to learn as much as I possibly can from the amazing team around me and, above all, enjoy it as much as possible!

By Elizabeth Ashley-Cowan

Lizzie

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