By Dominique Resendes, Vice President of Chapter Development
What I’ve learned from interning in Washington D.C.
During the PRSSA National Conference in Atlanta last year, I was freaking out about my summer—it was the last summer before I graduated, and I felt the pressure to do something that was going to be important, not just for my resume, but for others. That’s when I saw a brochure for DC Internships, a program through the Fund for American Studies. The application was due at the end of the semester (right in the middle of finals season) but somehow I managed to get my application on time.
And then began a summer I would never forget.
Through my internship, speakers through the TFAS program, and the peers and professionals I’m surrounded by daily, I’ve been able to learn more about myself, personally and professionally. And, have I learned a lot.
Do an internship somewhere outside of your comfort zone
If doing a summer in DC isn’t plausible, that’s not the end of the world. If all of your internships have been at the same types of places, switch it up! Internships give you an ability to dabble and find your passion, take advantage!
There is no internship beneath you
Sure, working at prestigious PR firm seems like it’d be a no brainer compared to a boutique agency, or a small in-house position. However, what you’re learning is just as important as where you’re learning it. The smaller the place, the more responsibility you’ll get as an intern. That additional responsibility will give you an edge and impressive work samples that will benefit you in the long-run.
Opportunities are given to those who seek them—your boss can’t/ won’t read your mind. You want to help write a speech? Speak up. You think you have something to contribute to a communications plan? Contribute. You’re an intern, you’re there to learn, you’re not going to be crucified for being wrong, you’ll get credit for trying.
Most networking occurs outside of the 9-5 days in the office
I had the opportunity to attend American Civil Liberty Union briefs, Congressional hearings, and professional development workshops. It’s events like that where you’re networking the most.
Especially in cities like DC, there are so many opportunities to network with DC professionals, and you’re internship will also have some from their own networks. These are vital. Throw those business cards at anyone who will catch them. Send follow up emails to as many people as you can. Even if that person may not seem important to you now, you never know what the future holds.
Network with your peers, not just professionals
There is a strange misconception that you can only network with people who are already in the professional field. That’s not the case, as I said before, you never know what the future holds. The future journalist interning in DC could become your future go-to person when you need to get your client’s story out there. The other intern in the communications department could be someone interviewing you for a job someday. You just never know.
Get to know everyone in the office
Step outside of your department every once in a while. Get to know people in your office, whether it’s just someone to get coffee with, or a future mentor, you can learn from anyone!
Take a deep breath, and have some fun
DC is a city where your profession is something you talk about all the time. It’s easy to get your head so wrapped up in your internship that you forget to enjoy the fact that you’re in a new area. Even if it isn’t DC, I bet there’s a restaurant you haven’t tried out.