Here at SHIFT, we’ve been fortunate to have one kick @$$ intern class after another across our three offices. Our SHIFTerns, as we affectionately call them, go above and beyond what is expected of your typical intern – it’s not all about sending packages or stocking snack closets.

We see SHIFTerns as valuable employees, if not future industry leaders, and treat them as such. They not only fulfill meaningful, real-world duties within their respective teams, but routinely step up and ask shrewd questions during Sip ‘n’ Learns and offer constructive feedback during agency brainstorms.

Our SHIFTerns are given many opportunities to shine, and they consistently deliver. This was evident with the PR plan that our Boston SHIFTerns pitched as part of their summer project. Our intern coordinators and others around the office (myself included) were blown away by their work.

And while summer may be nearly over, our SHIFTerns’ work is not, as six of them are staying on board to continue their internships this fall. After an insightful recent conversation with a few of them about their experiences thus far, I was inspired to have the group share their greatest insights on the agency blog. Here, all six present their biggest takeaway from the summer along with one key tip, which interns and industry pros alike would be wise to keep in mind as we move forward into the fall.

Maysie Childs, SHIFT Boston

Takeaway: Ask a lot of questions and drink a lot of coffee. Never be afraid to ask questions. Think it over and see if you can find the answer on your own first. If you can’t, don’t worry! Asking questions is something we were born to do. Chances are that the people on your team or sitting next to you had the same ones at some point. The important thing is not to have to ask the same question twice. Once you learn the answer from someone, remember to have enough respect for them not to forget it.

Tip: Don’t ever be scared to try something new. Help will be there if you need it. During your internship, chances are you will be asked to do things that you haven’t done before and might not be totally comfortable with. That’s a good thing! Make sure you remain open to new opportunities even if they aren’t given to you by a team member. An internship is all about growing and challenging yourself. You can’t do that if you stick to what you know. If you push yourself and go the extra mile, you will learn more about yourself and the industry.

Natasha Fee, SHIFT Boston

Takeaway: When you’re working on a project, it really helps if you understand how it fits into your team’s big-picture goals. Data entry becomes much more interesting when you understand what your team is doing with that information and how it helps the client.

Tip: Sit in on as many meetings as possible and volunteer for projects from different parts of the Agency. It’s a great way to expand your experiences, see all the different aspects of PR and meet other people from around the office. Also, every time you’re given an assignment, make sure you ask when it needs to be completed. It will make it easier to plan out your week and get your projects in on time.

Meaghan Murphy, SHIFT NYC

Takeaway: Always make yourself available. As an intern, it sometimes felt like I had a million projects to complete with no end in sight. However, sometimes I found that I had finished everything and had nothing to do. Instead of checking Facebook or Twitter to pass the time, I would reach out to account coordinators to see if they needed help with anything. By doing this, not only was I proving to be a valuable resource, but I would often be given the opportunity to work on something I had never done before as well, such as putting together a monthly report or drafting a client email. This is something I will definitely continue to do even after my internship ends.

Tip: Make a to-do list! Not only is this a great way to stay organized, but it also helped me prioritize and keep track of all of my projects, deadlines and responsibilities. I would handwrite a to-do list each morning because I loved being able to physically cross off something I had accomplished. Bad handwriting? Type up a list and print it out! At the end of the day, try to have as many, if not all, of your to-do’s crossed off.

Joe Offenhauser, SHIFT SF

Takeaway: Being an intern isn’t always the easiest job in the world. Learning any set of skills for the first time can feel challenging, and even daunting, sometimes. You want to do great work, but this annoying thing called lack of experience keeps getting in the way. My greatest takeaway from my own internship is also my number one tip for future SHIFTerns and other interns alike: double-check, but don’t second guess.

Tip: Be prepared for the inevitable (but avoidable!) sloppy little errors that will occur during your internship. But don’t let the fear of making big mistakes (SHIFT happens!) keep you from producing your best work. Realize that neither you nor your work will ever be perfect all the time, especially as an intern. So believe in yourself, and trust in the skills that got you here in the first place. Be ready to catch your own silly mistakes so your superiors don’t have to; then, learn from them. And when the opportunity comes to really show your skills, believe in yourself and knock that project out of the park. Just make sure you double-check for spelling and grammar first.

Carissa Ryan, SHIFT Boston

Takeaway: Getting out of your cube and meeting people is important! Sitting in a cube all day can be a little boring. Even if you get a lot of work done, you’re missing out on camaraderie and potential networking opportunities. At SHIFT, people have all sorts of different backgrounds and skill sets, and I learn from them constantly.

Tip: Don’t be afraid to talk to your supervisors. My family was visiting from Germany, and I was hesitant about taking time off. I talked it over with my supervisors, and they let me take time off to spend with them. If you don’t ask for something, the answer is always going to be ‘no’, don’t be afraid to discuss opportunities or issues with them!

Parker Winslow, SHIFT Boston

Takeaway: Reliability is invaluable. Help make the jobs of your team members easier. If your team can consistently count on you to get something accomplished in a timely manner, you’ll be successful. Also try to own something, like social media, for example. Find an area where you can provide value and have team members look to you.

Tip: Listen. Talking and sharing your ideas is important and valuable, especially if you stay current with industry-relevant news. But listening is the best way to absorb insights from your team and learn from their experience.

Zach Burrus
Marketing Analyst


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