What it’s really like to be an intern

internFinding An Internship

This summer after my first year at university, I felt a huge surge of pressure from within myself and it dawned upon me that I needed to ‘get something done’. I didn’t want to feel the dreaded disappointment of a wasted summer, so I got searching for internships. I know it’s incredibly frustrating to work for free – trust me I’m a broke student with a maxed out overdraft, It’s the worst feeling not getting paid in exchange for labour!  I thought that if I find an internship revolved around a passion of mine, it may be slightly more bearable.

The Interview
I came across a website known as UK Fashion Intern which posts both paid and unpaid internships, placements and so on, with relevance to the fashion and PR industry. I also had a contact from my sister with regards to a PR internship, so when I also discovered the same internship was being advertised on the UK Fashion Intern site I went for it. I was in France when I received a call from the company, but luckily it went smoothly and I nervously arranged a formal interview for the next week.

Travelling all the way to Hackney where the office was located was a bit nerve wracking for me, so much so that I ended up calling in half and hour early and interrupting a meeting. After I was awkwardly ushered out to a hotel across the road, I sat eagerly waiting. Once I had been beckoned back up to the office I was briefly interviewed. This involved some spontaneous questions and a gentle scrutinisation of my blog. I was incredibly nervous and became aware of my every body movement. After about half an hour, I was informally given the position at the PR company. I would be taking control of the social networking aspect, where I would be posting on Facebook and Twitter on behalf of the company – incredibly nerve wracking. The PR company was very small (there were 2 colleagues in total) but looks were deceiving as they had an impressive client list – Vogue being one.

I visited the offices once a week for about 4 weeks in total and to be honest the in between periods proved very difficult. For the days I wasn’t working I was expected to work from home which sounded do-able. However, between juggling a part time job and other life challenges, I found myself yearning for the free time to complete my set tasks for the company. Every so often myself and the director would get a little lost in translation and between our busy schedules it was difficult to take the time to communicate. Furthermore, without any travel expenses paid my bank balance began to decline.

The Internship

When I was in the office it was a different story. In the morning, I would settle by my little desk (which was sat about 5 foot from the director) and scan the daily news/gossip for any potential tweets I could post for their twitter account – I had to be fully aware of their target audience in order to do so. After drafting some posts I would write a Press Release or two for the company clients. Most of the time I was given the opportunity to practice my writing skills which was brilliant and the fact that my writing was published was an even bigger achievement. I was also able to see how they communicated with prestigious companies, attempting to gain more exposure for their clients. This gave me the chance to trail through amazing blogs and websites in order to spot their clients’ next ‘guest blogger’.

I always got the feel that the company director cared about me through the way she spoke to me and how she dedicated certain tasks for me.

It was definitely more beneficial for me to work for a smaller company as it gave me the chance to experience plenty and become involved with much more important tasks. There was no demands for tea – in fact I was offered tea most days. Nor was my work chased up by a Cruella Deville type character, making me worry every time my name was called. Both of the girls were lovely and were clearly incredibly passionate about their PR company. My opinion on particular events was asked regularly and taken on board. This made me feel a huge respect for the director as I felt like my opinion and work contribution really mattered whenever I was in the office. However, on the days that I tried to work from home this connection slightly weakened.

The only slight downside to working for a smaller company was the fact that the glamour-side of the internship subsided. I was working during one of Britain’s biggest heatwaves in a small office that lacked air conditioning. You can imagine how uncomfortable one day was in the office, however the team suffered with me. The upside to working for a smaller company was the hierarchy. Our opinions mattered and appeared to be treated equally. I felt like working with the company gave me a slight insight into the day-to-day workings of a PR office. Plus it provided me with a little more understanding on how I need to shape my career path and provided me with some basic skills to do so.

I take the negatives as positives because they will enable me to understand what I can improve in my next internship or placement. I think internships are a great way to broaden your cv and really contribute to any work-related experience. I don’t know where my life-plan would be without the lessons that I have already learnt from my experiences.


One thought on “What it’s really like to be an intern

  1. Wow what a great experience! I was surprised to read the company is situated in Hackney as I am from their myself!
    As an English student, PR is one of the potential careers open to me, although perhaps not the fashion side as I am not really interested in it! Sorry! 😛
    Funny how I was asked the other day by one of my tutees whether work experience in a smaller firm is better or whether in a bigger firm is. My experience has been great but not helpful in answering that question as I’ve done work experience at a small firm and a national but both were great and hands on experiences without being told to make tea. However, smaller companies certainly do give you more things to do.

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