Internship Follow Up

“Ragan’s PR Daily” has pubished Jeremy Porter’s “9 things to do at the end of your internship.” This is a MUST read for all of MY students and others serving (present and past) internships. To comment: [See next week’s blog on the latest Gallup Poll on public school confidence. The results are not good.]







Did you do an internship this summer? If
so, congrats, you’re a smart cookie.

Internships are 100 percent the No. 1 thing you’ll need on your resume to get
that first job after college. The No. 2 thing you’ll need is proof you can
write. Guess where you get that writing experience? Yep—internships.

To round out the list—and some will disagree with me on this—the No. 3 thing
you need to land a job after college is connections. Again, if you play your
cards right, you get some through internships.

If you did just put your internship to bed, or you’re about to, there are a few
things I’d like you to do on your way out the door:

1. Say thank you.

Personally thank everyone you’ve worked with this summer. A handwritten note is
my preference, but a sincere, verbal “thanks for the experience” is the minimum
requirement. Provide specifics and leave the door open for future contact. For
example: “I really wanted to thank you for the time you spent with me this
summer. I know my knowledge on X, or what you taught me about Y will be useful
in my career. I look forward to staying in touch as I continue my education or
begin my search for my first job.”

2. Get connected.

Make sure you have people’s business cards. Make sure you’re following everyone
on Twitter (or are subscribed to their blog). And for Pete’s sake, make sure
you connect with them on LinkedIn. Turnover is high in PR and journalism;
LinkedIn goes with people from job to job. This is how you’ll build your
network over time. It’s important.

BONUS: If you did a great job in your internship (be honest, you know if
you did or not), ask the highest-ranking person you worked with to recommend
you on LinkedIn. Don’t be shy about this—endorsements on LinkedIn can save you
time later on when you need references. Make it easier for the reference writer
by giving them some starter points.

For example: “Would you please write a recommendation for me on LinkedIn based
on the work I did this summer? It would be great if you could comment on the
work I did on project X or your satisfaction with the writing I did on Y.”

Whatever it was that you did, having somebody comment on your work does a
couple of things. It draws attention to you in their network, and it
sticks with your profile for a long time.

3. Get your samples.

I hope you’ve been collecting copies of the work you did this summer. In most
cases, the work you’ve done at your internship is the legal property of the
agency or its clients. Make sure you ask your supervisor for permission to use
those work samples in your portfolio. You’ll want electronic or hard copies of
all the work you did this summer, because there’s no guarantee you can access
this stuff later. Websites get replaced. Blog posts get deleted.

You might not think some of the things you worked on are relevant, but believe
me, they will be. Save them all so you can customize your portfolio for each
interview you do when you start your search.

4. Get coached.

You might be awesome. You might not. Regardless of what you think about
yourself and your performance in this internship, ask your supervisor to
suggest three areas you can improve on, based on his or her observations this
summer. Tell them you want them to be brutally honest with you, because it’s
the only way you’re going to improve. People would tell me how great my writing
was in my internship, but when I look back a lot of it was sloppy and littered
with errors (you know, like a lot of my blog posts). I wish they would have
told me to keep working on my writing and editing, and that attention to detail
is important.

5. Keep working?

Is there something you’ve done so well this summer that everyone is talking
about it? Are people sad you’re leaving, because you don’t be able to do that
thing anymore? Suggest to your boss that you keep doing it as a freelancer
while you go to school. When I did my first internship in New York, I put
together monthly clipping reports for clients (copies of all the press mentions
for the month). They were a lot of work back then. I suggested I do the work
from my dorm room in upstate New York. The company bought me a computer, leased
a copier, and paid me a very good rate to do the reports each month.

This type of opportunity is not the norm, but if you do something exceptional,
you might be able to gain valuable work experience (and make some money) while
you finish your coursework.

6. Stay in touch.

If you don’t keep working with them, be sure to stay in touch. Keep the lines
of communication open. Let people know what interesting stuff you’re learning
in school. Attend local Public Relations Society of America or press club
events so you can socialize with former co-workers. Interview your co-workers
for class projects (or consider inviting them to speak to one of your classes).
Of course, if you’re following them on Twitter or Facebook, you can interact on
a regular basis through those channels as well.

7. Say only good stuff.

There’s a chance you didn’t have a good experience this summer. Don’t talk
about it publicly; it will get back to the agency. I’m not suggesting you lie
to anybody, just don’t go around bashing the company that gave you a shot. (It
will make people wonder what you say about them when they’re not around.) It’s
OK to warn future internships professionally about what to expect, but keep it
professional. Along the same lines, keep proprietary information confidential.
Don’t talk about the new products clients are working on or their secrets to
getting coverage in The New York Times. This will strengthen your own
reputation over the course of your career.

8. Don’t burn bridges.

As an extension of No. 7, I have one “don’t” for the end of your internship.
Don’t burn bridges. Even if you hated working with somebody with every ounce of
your soul, don’t tell that person off on your last day. Don’t decide you’re
never going to talk to that person again. It’s a mistake. If you follow the
suggestions early on in this post with everyone you worked with this summer,
you’ll establish a firm foundation for your network to grow in the future.

9. Share your experience.

You learned a lot this summer. Don’t keep it all to yourself. Blog about it.
Talk about it in class. Encourage other students to pursue the same
opportunities. Use that experience to fuel you. Learn more, keep practicing,
and you will succeed. Share your experience and others will succeed with
you—and that’s what it’s all about.

Jeremy Porter is the founder of the blog Journalistics,
where a version of this story appeared.


Tips To Succeed: Mind your Manners

[Tip No. 12 from “The ABCs of Strategic Communication” by M. Larry Litwin, APR, Fellow PRSA. To comment:]

It takes only three to five seconds to make a first impression, but it can take a whole career to undo it.

Here’s what you should keep in mind during those first fateful moments to make a positive impression at an interview, conference, party or any other time

you meet new faces.

 The tardiness taboo

 The most important guideline is the most fundamental: Don’t be late. Ever.

 Figure out how long it takes to get to your meeting point and allow extra time. It’s better to arrive early than risk tardiness. For interviews and other important events, do a practice run in advance to clock the drive and make sure you know the route.

If you arrive more than 10 minutes ahead of schedule, take a short walk before going inside. Arriving too early can rattle the person

you’re meeting.


It’s an unfortunate fact of human nature that before you even say hello, people form an opinion of you based on how you look.

 In business settings, look sharp by dressing slightly more formally than the people you’re meeting with. Avoid distracting accents, like excessive jewelry or a goofy tie. Your clothes should not draw attention to you. And don’t leave a bad impression by forgetting the rear view.

 Check the back of your clothes in the mirror for rips and stains. Make sure you’re tucked in where you should be. Also examine the back of your shoes for mud splashes or worn-down heels.

 Presenting yourself

 At events where you have a chance to make new contacts, take a proactive approach. Peter Post (Emily’s grandson) says, “Go in with an attitude that says you’re going to participate, you’re going to be willing to go up and introduce yourself to people and start conversations.”

 It takes guts to approach strangers, but if you do it with charm, those you meet will be impressed by your sociability.

Post recommends four actions to ensure a positive first impression:

 • Stand up to get on eye level with the person.

• Look them in the eye.

• Give a firm handshake, but don’t “bone crush” them. Keep your shoulders and feet oriented toward the person.

• Repeat the person’s name and say you’re pleased to meet them.

Fine-tune and rehearse your self-introduction, a 10-second or less sound-bite (elevator speech) that includes your first and last name and a snippet of background information to kindle conversation.

Example: Hello, I’m Denise Kersten, a careers columnist for

Making connections


Introducing others will make you seem gracious and well connected, but be sure to follow the proper protocol.

In social situations the order in which you introduce two people is based on gender and age (women and older people first).

In business settings the order is determined by rank.

Introduce the lower-ranking person to the higher-ranking person, then reverse the order, so you say each person’s name two times.

Try to add an interesting tidbit to start the conversation. If you were introducing Mrs. Smith, a vice president of the company, to Mr. Jones, a junior associate, for example, you might say:

If you are unsure who the more important person is, default to the gender and age guideline.

Don’t panic if you forget a name. Most people will be happy to remind you and appreciate the introduction.

Chit chat


Conversation is more like a tennis match than a golf game. Hitting the ball too many times in a row is a serious faux pas. Instead, try to establish a back-and-forth volley.

Asking questions about the other person’s background and mentioning that interesting item you read in the newspaper are tried and-true chat starters or icebreakers. Stay away from politically

charged or sensitive topics with people you’ve just met.

Also avoid alienating individuals with different professional backgrounds.

Stay away from industry language and acronyms. It may make you make you feel plugged in, but it can turn-off uninitiated listeners.

If you succeed at establishing rapport with a new contact, you may ask for their business card and offer yours. But only do so in the context of building a mutually-beneficial relationship, or you may

come across as pushy.

The recovery


We all make etiquette slip-ups from time to time. Even Peter Post admits to the occasional oversight. But you can minimize the damage with a sincere apology.

“Acknowledge your mistake. Don’t try to put it off on somebody else. Accept it as your mistake. Then correct it,” Post says.

For the less serious offenses a simple “excuse me” goes a long way.

Denise Kersten –

Dana May Casperson – Author of Power Etiquette:

What You Don’t Know Can Kill Your Career

Tips to Succeed: Know your etiquette in

[Tip No. 30 from “The ABCs of Strategic Communication by M. Larry Litwin, APR, Fellow PRSA. To comment:]

Dining out with your boss or a client is your chance to make a good impression.

 • Can I drink soda or beer from the bottle?

No. Use a glass.

 • What if I am served something that I don’t know how to eat?

 Watch your host and do what he or she does.You may not be right, but you won’t be wrong. And when you do have a choice of foods, don’t order anything that you don’t know how to eat.

 • Is it OK to kiss colleagues in business social situations?

The handshake is the proper business greeting in most business and business social situations.Yet there can be situations where kissing may be OK, depending upon:

A.Your relationship with the person. If people know each other

well, they may kiss at business social events.

B. The type of company you work for. Large, formal, or conservative companies usually have less kissing than smaller, creative or informal types of companies.

C. The type of business functions you attend. Company picnics may be more relaxed and informal than business dinners at a fancy restaurant.

D. When in doubt, shake hands.

Barbara Pachter – Author -When The Little Things Count . . .And They Always Count [To comment:]

Techniques to Succeed: Just what is integrated marketing communication – synergy?

[To comment:] This is Tip 125 from “The ABCs of Strategic Communication by M. Larry Litwin, APR, Fellow PRSA. Thanks to former Rowan University colleague Amy LeBow for this and her insight.]

Like many strategic communication practitioners, you may spend much of your life trying to get friends and relatives to understand what you do for a living. Try this example:

• You see a gorgeous girl at a party. You go up to her and say, “I’m fantastic in bed.” That’s Direct Marketing.

• You’re at a party with a bunch of friends and see a gorgeous girl. One of your friends goes up to her and pointing at you says, “He’s fantastic in bed.” That’s Advertising.

• You see a gorgeous girl at a party. You go up to her and get her telephone number. The next day you call and say, “Hi, I’m fantastic in bed.” That’s Telemarketing.

• You’re at a party and see a gorgeous girl. You get up and straighten your tie You walk up to her and pour her a drink. You open the door for her, pick up her bag after she drops it, offer her a ride, and then say, “By the way, I’m fantastic in bed.” That’s Public Relations.

• You’re at a party and see a gorgeous girl. She walks up to you and says, “I hear you’re fantastic in bed.” That’s Brand Recognition.

[To comment:]