• August 2013

How to Land a Successful Internship

We are in the throes of our Summer 2013 Inkandescent Internships Program.

Established to create opportunities for college and grad students, and career changers, each semester our paid interns include high school and college students who gain hands-on experience and invaluable opportunities to learn about PR, marketing, and building a business.

What does it take to land—and execute—a successful internship?

We asked our interns for their insights.

Scroll down to meet our Summer 2013 team (in alpha order), and click here to send us an email to let us know that you’d like to participate in our Fall program.

Lucas Alexander says: The process of applying for and attaining a professional internship can be an extremely vigorous one. The best advice any person looking to obtain an internship is simply to be proactive in your search. The more you know, the better you can prepare yourself for your duties and make sure you have found the right internship for you.

  • The internship process has many steps, and the first one is where many people fall behind.
  • The best time to start researching and looking for internships is six months to a year before you would like to start working. This way you have plenty of time to do adequate research and give yourself options, as well as provides you with the necessary time to fill out your applications and have your credentials prepared.
  • Once you have a cover letter and a resume, you can start sending in your applications to whatever companies you have researched and decided would fit you best.
  • And, when you have acquired your internship, go at it with your best effort and take everything with an open mind. Chances are, you’re going to be doing something you’ve never done before that may help you in your future career, so take everything you can get out of your experience.

Lucas is a junior at the University of South Carolina’s Darla Moore School of Business. He is pursuing majors in Corporate Finance and Human Resources management with a minor in Communication. He is currently working as an intern at Inkandescent Public Relations, and hopes to pursue a higher education degree upon graduating from college in May 2014.

Rachel Biderman says: Internships are invaluable because they allow you to explore your interests in a field and broaden your professional horizons.

Granted, obtaining an internship can be a challenge, and so can the workload and level of commitment expected. So keep a few things in mind:

  • Use every resource available to you when looking for an internship: contacts, community job fairs, and school career centers, to name a few. I landed my internship at Inkandescent PR through a connection my mom had in the freelance writing community—so don’t underestimate the power of networking, or telling friends and family members that you are looking for work.
  • Keep an open mind and be flexible. Even if you think you might not love doing certain tasks, or working in a unfamiliar industry, do some research and see what is possible. You just may be pleasantly surprised.
  • Make sure to present yourself professionally at all times. And have a current résumé at hand. You never know when you might meet someone who could have an opportunity for you. It could be when you’re in the grocery store or while waiting for a table at a restaurant!
  • Speak intelligently and concisely, and show enthusiasm. No one wants to hire a person who won’t bring energy and excitement to the internship.
  • Try to always be responsive to requests. Check and respond to emails regularly and provide a reliable phone number just in case you are offline.
  • Perhaps most importantly: Learn about the places of work you are applying to so that you will be informed and ready for whatever comes your way.

Internships are about what you put into them, so give your best effort and the experience will be wholly rewarding.

Rachel will be a senior at James Madison High School in the fall. She is currently working as a summer intern for Inkandescent Public Relations, and is both interested and ecstatic for this opportunity. Following her high school graduation in May of 2014, she hopes to pursue the Social Sciences in higher education, perhaps Communications or Law.

Lysa Diarra says: Whether it’s to help develop your professional skills or gain exposure to a possible career path, internships are useful.

To find one:

  • Get creative and do your research. Take advantage of online resources, they’re there for you! For example, I was scanning possible internships for weeks before heading to Arlington’s Teen Summer Expo in April where I met Hope Gibbs, founder of Inkandescent PR. I went back to her table at least a dozen times, because her program was by far the most interesting to me. I was thrilled when I landed the internship, and it has been a great experience so far.
  • Another approach is to use any connections that you have to land an internship. Whether it’s a professor or even a family friend, they just might know of an internship opening that’s perfect for you.
  • Another thing to remember while searching is to choose experience over money. Internships are geared at providing you with experience, so don’t avoid unpaid internships. If you do, you’ll never know if you’re missing out on an amazing opportunity!
  • Once you land that “perfect internship,” don’t lose the drive and determination you had when you were looking for one. Your first few assignments may not be great, but attempt them with enthusiasm and positivity no matter how tedious or daunting. Maintain that “can-do” attitude and don’t be afraid to ask questions.
  • Keep learning about the industry, educate yourself on all aspects of it, and find out if it’s really for you. Finally, get to know the other employees and interns around you; those same individuals may turn out to be a great source of advice, helping you succeed while having fun along the way.

Lysa is a junior at Washington-Lee High School in Arlington, VA. She is pursuing an International Baccalaureate Diploma. She enjoys studying different cultures and ideas, and taking on new challenges.

Shoshana Levenson says: Since the purpose of an internship is to learn about a certain field or skill through exposure and experience, the best way to successfully land one is to demonstrate an interest in learning about whatever you wish to do. Display enthusiasm, and a real desire to learn, and then someone will be much more eager to teach you.

When picking an internship to apply for, be sure that you do have a genuine interest. If you are not interested in the subject matter, then you will be less inclined to listen and participate fully, and you won’t end up learning anything. In order to successfully execute an internship, you must do a few things.

  • First, you must be willing to try new things and develop brand new skills at tasks you have never encountered before.
  • You must also be ready to accept suggestions and constructive criticism. Not only that, but you must keep your mind open at all times.
  • If you keep your mind open, you should be able to learn from almost every task in the internship. This is because the real value of an internship is exposure. Whether it is exposure to brand new skills, exposure to having a boss, or even just exposure to the business world, you can learn so much from pure observation.

Shoshi is a sophomore at Walt Whitman High School in Fairfax, VA. She is interested in human psychology, writing, social media, and communication. She is enjoying working as a summer intern at Inkandescent Public Relations, and learning about the public relations field.

Molly Norrbom says: My advice on seeking an internship is: try everything. Use all the resources at your disposal, from job fairs to online searches to your college’s career center. Do you have a neighbor or family friend with a career that interests you? They may know of an opening in their field or workplace. I was offered an internship after a neighbor sent my resume to contacts at Georgetown. To be prepared, always have an up-to-date, polished resume at hand. Seize all opportunities, even if you aren’t sure that you are qualified. It never hurts to send an email or a resume to any prospect that catches your eye. You never know what may end up being the perfect fit.

Every internship experience will come with unique requirements and expectations. Whatever you are doing, be sure to show your eagerness and flexibility (fitting an intern into a busy business schedule may require some rearranging). Demonstrate your enthusiasm and professionalism in your initial communication and throughout the course of the internship. Of course, mind deadlines and commitments and don’t be afraid to ask lots of questions—the more you learn, the more employable you will be.

Molly is a rising junior at the College of William and Mary. She is majoring in English and Linguistics and is considering the field of literary publishing. This summer, Molly will be assisting Kathleen McCarthy with copyediting articles on our monthly business magazine, BeInkandescent.com, as well as helping with research.

Lianne Provenzano says: Internships are not only a great opportunity to learn your strengths and weaknesses, but also a way to find out if you’re passionate about the area in which you are working hands-on. Reading about a field online or in a magazine is one thing, but actually applying yourself in an efficient manner is another.

You get what you give:

  • Learn to embrace all of your options.
  • If you aren’t serious about a job, your potential employer will know.
  • My advice is to jump at any and all chances for experience. You won’t know for sure if you like something until you try it!
  • Go into any opportunity you are given with an open mind and apply yourself as though your life depended on it. Your initial preconceptions may be spot-on; however, they the reality may astound and surprise you.

The same advice applies after earning your internship. Although tasks may seem easy or menial at first, know that your work is valuable to your employer. Even the largest of companies have lowly tasks to complete. Your work is an important part of the foundation of the company or research project you are helping to conduct. You must first master the basics. Stay positive and keep an open mind because after that, there is only one direction in which you can move: up.

Lianne is a rising first year at the University of Virginia. After graduating from James Madison High School with an Advanced Diploma, she will pursue a bachelor’s degree from the College of Arts and Sciences at UVA. She is currently working as a summer intern for Inkandescent Public Relations, and is interested in all aspects of design and publishing.

Former summer 2012 intern, Ashley Freund, who has since become The Inkandescent Group’s editorial assistant.

Ashley says: Many people know the business path that interests them in their pursuit of their perfect job. The advice that I have been given throughout my short life in the business world is to do something that you’re passionate about; I believe that holds true in the search to obtain a dream internship.

When you find an area of interest, you begin to go above the job description designated for that position by pursuing creative techniques to capture your employer’s attention. In doing so, your employer will notice your initiative, which opens the door to new opportunities and hopefully a permanent career.

Bottom line: Believe in what you’re representing.

The editorial assistant at the Inkandescent Group since the fall of 2012, Ashley earned her promotion after successfully completing the company’s eight-week summer training program. In addition to managing and maintaining the company’s comprehensive networking website, www.InkandescentNetworking.com, she assists with writing press releases, transcribing interviews, and working on the company’s monthly business magazine, www.BeInkandescent.com. A 2013 graduate of Virginia Tech, Freund earned a Communications degree with a focus on Public Relations. She minored in English, with an emphasis on Creative Writing.

About the Inkandescent Internship Program

The Program: Based on an eight-week curriculum created to teach interns the basics of PR and marketing, students learn to do research, program and upload data to our websites, write press releases, create media lists, reach out to the media, and develop effective strategies for our clients. The internship ends with an evaluation, and letter of recommendation.

The Commitment: The eight-week internship program includes weekly assignments and assessment, bi-weekly conference calls, and monthly in-person meetings with staff.

The Benefits: Because our curriculum is designed to have interns learn, and master, the basics of PR, marketing, and business strategy, our interns report that they learn more than expected, and have the opportunity to try their hand in the PR and marketing field in an insightful and effective manner. In fact, we have hired several interns to work as editorial assistants at the end of the program.

Would you like to become an Inkandescent Intern? Send us an email: hope@inkandescentpr.com.