When I arrived at MP&F four months ago, I had absolutely no idea what to expect. Would I be handling some mundane or important tasks? Would I be sitting at a desk doing research all day, or would I be driving around doing errands for clients?

While I did do each of these, my internship was so much more fulfilling than I could have imagined. Instead of doing “intern” tasks, I was able to do meaningful work that I actually saw come to fruition. I saw client tweets I had drafted pop up on my Twitter feed, I saw my research worked into presentations, and I saw my pitch ideas make their way onto blogs and websites.

MP&F gave me real responsibility – I was treated like an actual employee. Though the responsibility was often scary, and I had to ask several follow-up questions, this type of work allowed me to learn skills and better understand my weaknesses, and the nitty-gritty of public relations.

For any student about to begin an internship, here are the biggest things I learned at MP&F.

Take initiative: I’m generally a shy person and don’t enjoy stepping out of the box. I would rather just receive instructions. However, MP&F taught me that I had to assert my own ideas, respond to the all-intern email to take the extra work and volunteer for events. Once people see you taking that extra step, they’ll give you greater responsibility and more diverse assignments.

Ask questions, but also know when to stop: It is not a bad thing to ask questions. It is better to ask before you do an assignment entirely the wrong way. Further, it shows that you are invested in what you are working on. However, if it’s a simple question, look it up and don’t waste your co-worker’s time.

Prioritize your time: Sure, one assignment may be more enjoyable; but if you are on deadline for another assignment, work on that. Clients expect things to be turned around in a timely manner. Make sure to keep lists of your deadlines so you’re not late and so you can make sure you have the time to put your full effort in.

Do more than what was asked, if it adds to the quality of the project: Run it past your supervisor before doing so. Does it make sense to alphabetize the list, find extra contacts, write a handwritten note rather than an email, and dig deeper in some research? This goes back to taking initiative.

Try things you wouldn’t have before: Would I ever have thought I’d be doing live social media at a charity event? No. Did I love it? Absolutely. I tried things that took me out of my comfort zone, but I ended up loving them.

Make sure to follow up (communicate): Let your co-workers know your progress – don’t leave them out of the loop before you leave the office. It’s not annoying – they value the feedback.

I wouldn’t trade this experience for anything. Since I am majoring in rhetorical studies, it was wonderful to get practical, hands-on experience, and I plan to take these lessons with me regardless of where I end up after graduation.

Spring 2015 Intern Class

Emily Torres, pictured front right, with her fellow spring MP&F interns, L-R: Danni Kosturko, Laura Huddleston, Sophie Kellerman and Erin Whitaker. Photo: Keith Miles, MP&F.