Seeking an internship? Here’s some advice from a pro.
As the person who manages the Ceisler Media internship program, along with my colleague Mary Gebbia, I’m sometimes asked what the firm looks for when we hire an intern.
For many young people, an internship may provide their first real job experience. It’s challenging to know how to approach it. So here are four nuggets of advice I’d offer to anyone starting their career with an internship:
1. Ask Questions
It’s okay that you don’t know everything. That’s a huge reason you’re here – to learn. So if you receive an assignment you’re not quite clear on, or need more background, don’t be afraid to ask about anything.
Sometimes in the information age, younger folks are hesitant to ask questions because we are expected to have all of the answers at our fingertips. But that’s not always the case. I would rather have you ask on the front end than struggle your way through an assignment knowing only half of the information – and then turning in a disappointing work product.
2. Gain Writing Experience
As communications professionals, we are constantly writing – whether it’s an email update to a client, a press release, a social media post or an op-ed. Whenever possible, I love to hand off that writing to our interns because it’s a mutually beneficial exchange – we full-timers can always use extra help, and you gain a skill and add to your resume.
Always go to any internship interview with several writing examples so we know you’re someone we can trust with those assignments. This can include articles from your school newspaper, samples from a relevant PR/writing class, or work from past internships.
3. Be a Team Player
In an agency setting, the work never seems to slow down – which is one reason working at Ceisler Media is so fun. The workload has sped up even more during the COVID pandemic. Everyone – from directors to associates to interns – rolls up their sleeves to get the work done, and done well.
Sometimes that means working on less-glamorous assignments, but they have to get finished, and we rely on our interns to help. Whenever I hand out what might be a tedious assignment, I remind our interns that, 1) We have all been in their shoes, and 2) There is always a bigger picture. Your task may seem time consuming and minor, but it always folds into the bigger-picture strategy that we are developing for clients.
4. Advocate for Yourself
As I stated, we rely greatly on our interns, and count on their competence to handle multiple tasks. It’s also true that those of us handing out the work get caught up in our own daily deadlines and may not focus on an intern’s own needs.
I want this to be a meaningful experience for you, and want you to come away with new skills. So if there is something you want to try your hand at – like pitching an event or writing a blog post – let me know. I will work with you to make sure you get that experience. Since there’s never a shortage of work, I can always find something to help you develop new skills.
Ceisler Media has always had a strong internship program. Our principal, Larry Ceisler, sometimes sounds like a proud dad sharing the professional accomplishments and milestones from former interns he keeps touch with.
We know it’s important to keep developing local professional talent and give practical experience, especially in our line of work. And, we rely on our interns to help us deliver quality work to our clients.
So, if you are a college student studying communication, political science or liberal arts, I look forward to hearing from you.
Elise Corbett is a Senior Associate in Ceisler Media's Philadelphia Office.