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6 tactical tips for interns and entry-level PR pros

Your resume is stellar, you nailed the interview and got the position. Now what? If you’re like me, you’ve seen the vague advice floating around online that tells you to “work hard” and “be yourself.” While that advice still applies, it’s helpful to have a few more specific strategies in your arsenal that enable you to stand out from the crowd.

As a former D&E intern who later got the job, I can attest to the usefulness of the tips below. I learned them from valued mentors and coworkers, from trial and error and from helping to train and support the interns who have come after me. I’m still learning and growing myself every day, but the following strategies helped me get to where I am. I hope they prove useful to you as well!

1. Get really good at Google.

It sounds silly, but Google is an invaluable tool for any entry-level professional. Use it to look up unfamiliar terms, find tutorials on software programs you use often and discover resources that help you develop yourself. Your education after college is your responsibility, so your future success is dependent on your curiosity and the initiative you take to keep learning and evolving your skillset over time.

To level-up your Google game for research purposes, read about Boolean search operators, Google alerts, how to view a cached website and the tools you can use to filter your search results.

2. Ask plenty of questions.

Asking questions shows curiosity, intelligence and initiative. Ask clarifying questions on projects you don’t understand so that your work is completed quickly and efficiently. Express interest in your company’s practice areas, clients and industries. Insightful questions show you care about your work and your contribution to your team.

3. Refine your work.

Take copious notes on the feedback your work generates and the preferences of clients and coworkers. Then, show that you absorbed and applied that feedback by refining your work over time.

One easy way to start doing this is to craft templates relating to common projects and requests. By building on consistent templates, you can refine and perfect your skills when it comes to media list building, coverage reports, audits, trip books and more. By building on a consistent base, you can learn what works and how you can improve the next time around.

4. Read the news.

Stay informed about what’s going on in the world, and especially in your clients’ industries. Current events, global politics and local stories can all play into your work day. Knowing what’s happening in the national conversation can help you generate ideas for clients, improve the relevancy of your pitches and deepen your understanding of the “how’s” and “why’s” of decision-making in public relations.

Start getting informed by signing up for relevant industry newsletters and Google alerts. Email digests like The Skimm or Vox Sentences can also provide accessible starting points for everyday news.

5. Listen carefully and observe.

Listen to what you’re told and how it’s said. Think about how your clients are feeling and how that might influence what they’re requesting and why. Pay attention to your coworkers’ workloads and seek ways you can support them.

6. Don’t wait for work to come to you.

The best interns and entry-level professionals can follow detailed directions flawlessly, and they also start to anticipate the needs of account executives and clients. Throughout your work day, keep track of ideas you have and identify problems you might be able to solve. Brainstorm ideas for great placements and ways to make yourself and your team more efficient and effective. Then take action. It’s not enough to do what you’re told – you should also speak up and actively seek ways to add value to your company.

Have additional ideas to share? Want to learn more about how you can stand out from other interns, or more about working at D&E? Email me. 

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