How to land an internship and maximize the experience

By Bryan Anderson

It was toward the end of my freshman year when I first began looking for internships. Searching through the database inside the School of Communications Internship Office, I stumbled across the Greensboro Grasshoppers. Though I have an interest in journalism, I wanted to perfect my multimedia skills. After making a cold call to the person in charge of hiring interns, I landed a sit-down interview in Greensboro. Because I didn’t have a car at the time, a friend was kind enough to drive me over. Despite being in my first year of college, I was selected as a media/production intern because of my work in student media at Elon University. I became the first freshman college student the organization had hired in its 10-year history.

Throughout my internship, I worked to hone in on my multimedia journalism skills. I was always the last to leave the office and said ‘yes’ to every opportunity thrown my way. When I make a commitment, I like to invest all of my energy into making my employers proud. By being open to new ideas and willing to embrace challenges, I was able to excel in my internship and was offered another internship the following summer.

In the fall of my sophomore year, I met with a journalism professor who used to work at the Raleigh News & Observer. One of his former students also interned there during her sophomore year. He put me in touch with the internship recruiter. After submitting clips and making multiple phone calls, I was able to get an internship position for the N&O.

Not knowing what to expect on my first day, I was assigned to the political reporting department where I wrote about 40 articles on a host of different topics. I also interviewed several high-profile candidates, including Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump. I was able to make the most of my internship experience by performing tasks without being asked, offering story ideas and accepting any article assignment that came my way.

Advice for obtaining an internship

  • Be confident and take the initiative to contact people
  • Don’t wait for opportunities to come to you
  • Talk to faculty members and fellow students about their past internships
  • Give and take: Help others if they have questions for you and reach out to acquaintances
  • Search online for employer contact information and specific individuals
  • Make your cover letter stand out. I enjoy using an anecdotal paragraph to talk about how one experience reflects on the larger skills I have to offer

Advice for maximizing the internship experience

  • Say ‘yes’
  • Ask question if unsure how to do something
  • Be the first to arrive and the last to leave

Standing Out as a Professional Intern

By Perry Elyaderani

When you begin your internship, you’ll immediately get a sense for how much, or how little, interns matter in that workplace. If there are only a couple of interns in your department, you’ll get more attention, which can be both a blessing and a curse. If there are a lot, you can find yourself competing for attention. Both present their unique challenges, but standing out as a professional intern is surprisingly easy, even in an extremely competitive environment.

First, dress appropriately. As a general rule, dressing one half-step to one step above what is expected is best. If your place is casual, dress business casual. If it’s business, you probably don’t need to pack a suit, but try to accessorize up a bit. It seems trivial, but dressing up is a large chunk of how people see you as an intern. I was interning at a news station over the summer, and a reporter said, “I need an intern like you.” Later, I learned it had nothing to do with my ability; rather, he said it was because I was the only one who showed up in a tie and a tie clip every day, ready to be sent out. Dressing up every day will immediately set you above most other interns. Strange, but true.

Secondly, stay humble. You’ll be surprised how many interns are expressively annoyed around their bosses. DON’T DO THIS. It sounds ridiculous, but always asking for more work, always seeming thrilled about the worst jobs, and never acting as if you’re above any task will make you stand out significantly. Everyone is assigned grunt work. If you stay positive, your boss will notice. Then, you can steadily inquire about the work you really want to do.

Thirdly, be professional with your employers. When you email any employee, use courtesy titles and last names. Don’t use their first name unless they have given you permission to do so.

Lastly, write handwritten, personalized thank you cards to everyone you’ve had a conversation. It’s brutally time-consuming to individualize these, but it really makes you stand out. Bonus points if you throw your business card in there. Seriously.

Interning, especially when you’re subconsciously competing with other interns for attention, can be intimidating. But by dressing well, never complaining, and conducting yourself professionally, you’ll be surprised how much you stand out.

How to Cater Your Internship Toward YOU

By Kristina Lee

First, let’s take a minute to give yourself a pat on the back. You got through the application process and you have made it to your internship. Congratulations!

Now, it’s more important than ever to think about what you want to get out of your real-world experience. By this I mean, do you want to be managing the company’s social media? Are you interested in improving your videography skills? Perhaps you want to learn more about writing scripts…

Whatever it is, remember that your internship should be a learning experience. Of course it’s important to get tasks from your supervisor, but it’s also important to utilize your strengths and explore your own interests while you are able to work in a real-world environment with individuals who are willing to help you succeed!

So, how do you personalize your internship?

Schedule a meeting with your internship supervisor your first week to discuss what you would like to learn and accomplish throughout this experience. Talk about your personal goals, your interests, and projects you want to work on. Ask if there are any opportunities for you to get “hands-on” experience. By having this discussion with your supervisor, she will be better able to determine how to best utilize your skill set and assign you more interesting tasks.

When I was an editorial intern for Girls’ Life Magazine, my supervisor and I had this discussion. I explained that I was interested in working with the publication’s social media. I also shared that I wanted to improve my writing skills while gaining experience in event management. She took all of this information into consideration and, that same day, I was assigned to schedule social media posts across multiple platforms and write articles for the website. The day after, I was assigned to work on social media for an ad campaign; and later on, I eventually became involved in the planning of the magazine’s annual Fashion Bash event. I was able to gain experience in all of these areas because of one conversation with my supervisor.

Another tip for personalizing your internship would be to pitch your own stories or project ideas. This, of course, means speaking up. Don’t be afraid to tell your supervisor about your great idea. You never know if they may think that your idea is better than their own! If they do, you’ll most likely be able take on that task yourself. And the best part? You’ll be passionate about it!

At Girls’ Life, I pitched all of my own article topics and was able to write about my own interests. Not only did this make the process exciting, but it also made it extremely rewarding.

So, now that you have advice on how to personalize your internship, take it into your own hands! Communicating with your internship supervisor is key and if you take this advice into consideration, you’ll get the most out of your internship experience. Good luck!

Making the Most of Your Summer Internship: Keep an Open Mind

By Elizabeth Zimmerman

So you landed your dream summer internship, but how can you make the most of it? One of the most important lessons I learned during my summer internship experience is to keep an open mind throughout all parts of the experience.

My first day at my internship, I was thrust into a series of “onboarding” sessions to help me get a feel for the agency and for the clients who I would be working with for the duration of my 12-week internship. Throughout the majority of my sessions, I was both overwhelmed and excited – especially when I discovered I would get to touch so many of the agency’s major accounts. However, when I found out that I would spend hours with an unfamiliar client, I wasn’t nearly as excited as I was when I found out that I would get to work on major consumer product goods accounts that had way more name recognition.

Amazingly throughout the course of the summer, the hours I got to work on the unfamiliar client ended up being some of my favorites. The account services team I worked with was so energetic and fun, and the client was so appreciative and receptive to my work. It was definitely a rewarding experience. I wish I had kept a more open mind at the beginning of my internship because I think I would have had an even better experience with the client and the team from the very start, instead of the weeks it took for me to warm up to them.

Keeping an open mind also helped me when it came to making meaningful connections and relationships at my job site. The internship agency placed a strong emphasis on cultivating relationships between their interns and every department (media planning/buying, client engagement, creative, etc.) so I made sure to make the most of these meetings. Even though I didn’t necessarily have an interest in working in each of these areas, going into these meetings with an open mind and a willingness to learn from anyone and everyone helped me to learn more about potential career opportunities. It also helped me to understand how the work that I was doing as an intern could be applied to each area of the agency.

An internship is a learning opportunity — not only about the industry, but also about you. Keeping an open mind and having a constant willingness to learn every day helped me to succeed at my internship and helped me to discern the kinds of work that I want to pursue in the future.

Dressing for Success: A guide to Dressing for Interviews

by Kaelyn Green

A job interview is your big moment to impress employers and like any important event in your life, you want to look your absolute best on the big day. So,there are some important dos’ and don’ts to looking professional, yet memorable.

Research, Research, Research! Dress codes vary among different industries and organizations and it is important to dress for your specific interview. See if the company is more laid back or more formal in dress. When researching websites and social media, also give a call to human resources and ask what they recommend as far as dress code attire. You want to appear professional and show that you fit in with the company.

Do NOT wear the rainbow. You’ll want to pay attention to the colors that you choose to wear. It’s better to stick with subtle colors; for instance, navy, brown, and black are always acceptable. It’s probably better to avoid that bright pink and green shirt or any loud patterns, textures, or colors. However, depending on the company, it may be okay to add little pops of color or other small statements pieces to show your personality. Accessories and shoes can make a big difference in an otherwise plain outfit.

Most importantly, bring your confidence! Whatever you choose to wear, wear it confidently with pride. Choose something that makes you feel good and is comfortable. The most successful of CEO’s will tell you that they have a favorite power outfit. Don’t forget that a look that makes you feel confident will make you look confident as well.

For more tips on what to wear to an interview check out some of these links:


Managing Internships during the School Year

By Kaelyn Green

Summer internships have become such a staple on the college bucket list, especially since many majors now require internships and students learn of their value. But internship opportunities are not just confined to the summer! There are many opportunities in the surrounding area during the academic year while at Elon. You may think with classes, extracurricular activities, and a social life, it may be difficult to manage your time with an internship. Not necessarily. Here are some tips for staying on top of things:

  1. Obtain A Daily Planner: The ultimate college staple! We all need one to keep us sane while tracking homework, exams, and events. Well, you can use it to plan your internship hours and assignments, too.. Also, make sure to plan ahead for any extra event hours at your internship! Practicing time management is crucial and a planner will help you stay focused.
  2. Plan Your Class Schedule: A big concern for students when looking into semester internships is balancing their class schedule with their internship. If you know you’re going to have an internship during the semester, consider your classes. Schedule your classes together rather than spreading them throughout the day. Also, perhaps you can schedule classes in the morning, or on days when you’re not an intern. This will help you stay organized and make planning ahead a lot easier.
  3. Create Your Own Opportunity: Can’t find an internship you like near you? If you know of several places in the area that you connect with, reach out to them! Some companies can comply with the internship requirements and construct a program with you. Make sure you do your research on the company and its staff beforehand to ensure the internship meets the school’s guidelines.
  4. Accept Help: Know your limits! It’s very easy to spread yourself too thin and it’s perfectly normal to struggle sometimes. Talk to your supervisor and internship professor when you start to feel the pressure. They can offer advice and work with you to manage your time and workload. Remember, this is a learning experience and it’s okay to accept help from others.
  5. Consider A Virtual Internship: While you can’t earn academic credit for it, this internship can help provide content for your ePortfolio. Virtual internships are internships that can be completed online and have become more popular over the last few years. They are especially common with blogging, social media, marketing and even design. Virtual internships are great because they cut out the commute time and save you that gas money.

Participating in a semester internship has many benefits and if you think that it fits you, then go for it! There are plenty of opportunities and resources that can help you find an internship. Check out the Hot Internships page on the Elon Communications website or contact the Communications Internship office for assistance.


Juggling Multiple Internship Offers?

By Adam (AJ) Roshfeld

Congratulations! You have been offered an internship, by multiple companies… so now what? You’ve spent countless hours scouring the Communications Hotlist, networking, and searching for the perfect internship, but you never thought you would have to TURN DOWN an offer.

It is very important to keep your connections strong and untarnished, so if you do find yourself needing to pull your application from a company, or decline an offer, it is key that you do it in an amicable way. You never know if you are going to cross paths with the organization again, or the people in them.

Always be appreciative, and stress that you are honored that the company selected you. Thank them for taking the time to consider you. Believe it or not, the hiring process is just as tricky on their end as it is for those applying. Be honest. Companies, and the people working for them all understand that the professional world is a competitive one.

Never accept multiple offers. Rescinding on an offer is very poor professional etiquette, and reflects poorly on Elon and your fellow peers. If you need time, ask for an extension. Most companies understand that students apply to many places. Again, be honest and work with them, but be wary that they also need to fill the position, so be considerate of their timeline.

You are in for a world of learning and growing. There is no better way to hone your skills than by being on the front lines doing real world projects. Ask questions, try new things, and always keep an open mind.

You’ll find more specifics here: