The Gong Blog

Lessons learned from my time as an intern

Editor’s Note: Jordan Hogge is a Virginia Tech graduate. She spent her fall of 2019 commuting back and forth between her gig at Hodges and her seasonal job with Busch Gardens. She’s now an intern at CarMax. Her parting gift to us was this blog post. If you’d like to be our next intern, fill out an application here.

My time at Hodges is coming to an end and as I wrap up my internship, I wanted to put together a guide for future public relations interns. This was my first internship with an agency, which was scary. I did all of the research I could before beginning my internship, and I hope that reading this will make you feel more prepared before your internship too.

Without further ado, here are five lessons learned from my time as a PR intern.

Lesson #1: Have patience. 

One of the first lessons that I learned in my internship was to have patience. It can be scary at first and you might feel frustrated if you don’t understand everything right away. In an industry that is constantly evolving, there is always something new to learn. Whether this is your first internship or your fifth, remember to be patient when adjusting to this new environment. You will be successful; you just have to figure out what process works for you.

Lesson #2: Be confident.

Another lesson that I learned during my internship was to have confidence. You wouldn’t have been hired if they didn’t think you had what it takes to be successful, so own that! Don’t be arrogant, but remember that you are capable. An important thing to note is that having confidence doesn’t mean you can’t ask questions. In fact, having the confidence to ask questions is braver than not asking any.  

Lesson #3: Ask questions.

Ask all of the questions. Okay, maybe not all, but lots! Your mentors are there to help guide you, so let them. It’s natural to have questions about a project. But before you ask, do your research. No one wants to answer a question that you could find the answer to yourself with a quick Google search. However, if something is unclear, I can promise you that asking questions will save everyone time.

Lesson #4: Have a voice.

Don’t be afraid to advocate for yourself! If you hear office chatter about a project that interests you, speak up. Even if you’re not able to touch that specific project, it will give everyone a better sense of your interests so that you can help with more things that interest you in the future. For example, I communicated my passion for hospitality and tourism projects on the very first day of my internship. On day two, I walked into the office with the offer to work on a project for Richmond Region Tourism.

Lesson #5: Soak up every minute.

My last piece of advice is to enjoy every minute and treat it as a learning experience. I am writing this post on my last day and it’s crazy how quickly time flew by. My advice with this is to take every opportunity that you can and turn it into a learning opportunity. At Hodges, there are brainstorms and Monday staff meetings. During these times, I would sit in the room with a notebook and pen, taking any notes that I could. While none of these meetings were intentional learning situations, I soaked up every bit of information that I could and turned them into what I wanted to get out of it.

Final thoughts…

My final takeaway is to just be yourself. Your internship experience will be vastly different than mine, as every person reading this will have different motivations and interests. However, we all want to succeed. By allowing yourself to be present and open-minded, that will happen. All any company wants from you is for you to put your best foot forward. So be yourself, be curious and be willing to learn.

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