Lessons Learned

By Ali Pump – Director of Chapter Development

Over the duration of my college career I’ve read somewhere in the ballpark of 15 blog posts about what to wear on interviews, 57 articles about how to be a great intern, and 608 paragraphs about general career advice. All together that’s enough research to write a thesis.

However, despite all that research, the most valuable lessons I’ve learned about PR, internships, and business in general have always come from firsthand experience. So instead of writing a thesis, I’ve included some short blurbs about the lessons I’ve learned while interning this summer. 

You will succeed.

When the opportunity comes to be a PR rock star take it and don’t hold back. You will have some shining moments during your internship, relish them.  Keep memories of these moments in your back pocket, as a reminder not to get discouraged when you don’t have the best day in the office.

You will fail.

There will come a time during your internship when you write a press release or create a media kit and your client won’t like it. The client might even hate it. You need to accept that every once in a while you will fail, so that when the time comes you can make the necessary edits and move on.

The client is always right, until they’re not.

When in doubt, concede to what the client wants. It’s their name on the product, ad, or press release and you will most likely need their final approval. However, there are certain times when you need to stand up and tell the client that they are wrong and that they hired you for a reason.  It’s almost like sending back food at a restaurant. You don’t want to be a nuisance or have someone spit in your food, but there comes a time when the chicken isn’t cooked all the way.

Talk to the tech guys.

At this stage in the game, you’d have to be living under a rock to think you can get by in PR by simply writing. It’s time to embrace technology and learn all you can about SEO, website building, and graphic design.  To learn more, don’t be afraid to ask around your office. Talk to the IT department or your firm’s programmers, they can explain more in half an hour than you could learn by yourself in three hours.

Balance your life and your work.

If I know anything about Penn State PRSSA members, I know that they are dedicated, hardworking, and able to accomplish things other people can only dream about. However, in the words of Spiderman’s Uncle Ben “With great power, comes great responsibility.” So don’t let yourself get overwhelmed with work. Remember, you can deliver great work and still have a social life. You’ll get burned out far faster from not having any fun, then waking up an hour early the next day to finish a project.

Expect the unexpected.

Be adaptable. At the end of the day, you can’t predict everything so you might as well expect anything…..and drink coffee….lots of coffee.


* Don’t quote me on that, I have never written a thesis. Thesis-writing folks are far braver members of academia than I am.

** Proceed with caution and, if you can, hand this conversation off to your boss.

Ali is a senior majoring in public relations and history.  To hear the particular story behind each piece of advice listed or  to find out why she’s never written a thesis please email her (alexandriapump@gmail.com) or tweet at her (@AliPump) today.

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