Figure it out!

Are you a PR student? If so, like many of us, you are probably using the summer months off from school to develop more experience in the industry as a PR intern. Lauren Novo recently posted a blog post about achieving success as a PR intern.

Please make sure you read her post, as I found it very insightful. In it, she offers six tips for getting the most out of your internship while giving the most to the company for which you are interning.

The tip that struck me the most was the third tip on her list, “don’t ask what you can figure out for yourself.” At first I thought this tip sounded rather harsh. After thinking about it more though, I came to see it as very wise.

Last summer, I completed my first-ever internship. Perhaps because I was so inexperienced in the industry, I would ask thousands of questions and was almost crippled by my paranoia that I follow every instruction to a “T.” While I continue to believe that asking questions is one of the best ways to learn, I saw a lot of value in Novo’s suggestion. This is because I would spend a lot of my day walking to and from my boss’s office, which took a lot of time away from my projects and also caused many disruptions to her day.

This year, at my new internship, I’ve learned that it’s best to sit down and try to figure things out on your own first. If there seems like there should be a simple answer, most of the time it’s because there is. And plus, you were hired for a reason; the company would never have chosen you for an intern if they did not have faith in your abilities and qualifications.

The bottom line is that it is always better to ask a question than to make a huge mistake. At the same time, though, I would agree with Novo in that some of my best learning experiences as an intern occurred in situations in which I prevailed over a problem and completed a task on my own from start to finish. When you do have questions, I am a big fan of Novo’s suggestion that it is best to save questions in a list to consolidate interruptions to your supervisor and to save time.

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