Coming from a public relations program as outstanding as The University of Alabama’s, I knew I had the skills I needed to succeed at my first internship. However, as the first day approached, I worried that I’d forgotten things and that I would embarrass myself by asking stupid questions. While I had learned so much in the classroom, there were still a few things that I’d never actually executed for a client—at least not without some guidance.
One of the first things I realized at my internship is that even with everything I’d learned, every place has their own way of doing things; there will always be things you won’t know and should not be expected to know, and it’s important to ask questions in those situations.
This was hard for me to do at first, as I knew the people above me were busy and often under tight deadlines; I did not want to interrupt them with my questions. However, in my “exit interview” on the last day, one of my account coordinators mentioned how much it stood out to her that I was never afraid to ask questions. That was valuable feedback, and it serves as great advice for anyone starting out in an internship or a job.
It’s also okay to ask what the purpose of a task is. On more than one occasion this summer, I was asked to write something for a client, and my account coordinator wouldn’t always go into detail about the topic or the purpose of it. In one case, I was asked to draft a press release about one of the chefs at The Ritz-Carlton, Atlanta. He had been there for some time, so it wasn’t exactly breaking news; it was more of a summary about his work there. I was unsure how to approach it because I didn’t understand what the purpose of it was. I asked my account coordinator, and she explained that we had to compile a certain number of releases a month for that client. There was nothing new or noteworthy to write about for that month, but we needed to come up with something and make it sound interesting. Once I understood that, I found it much easier to write the release.
While you may feel like you are annoying your employer (or AE, mentor, etc.), he or she would much rather you ask and do the job right than to not ask and make mistakes. Asking for clarification or for a more thorough explanation of something shows that you care and that you want to get it right. People will be impressed by your eagerness to learn, so don’t be afraid to ask questions.
-by Emily Clack, PRSSA Executive Member
All blogs are written by general members of UAPRSSA and Capstone Agency.