What I Learned During My Time as an Intern at NST

NST TeamWhen I got the call back from Nuffer, Smith, Tucker, informing me I got the intern position, my reaction was a mixture of shock, surprise and anxiety. This would be my first venture into the world of public relations outside of the military and my motto from that moment on was, “Don’t mess this up.”

I came to work with the notion they were looking for a PR expert. “Nuffer, Smith, Tucker does not have time for noobs,” I thought to myself. After all, I did have an eight-year career in journalism and public affairs with the Navy under my belt. The expectations were high, but they were my own expectations of myself and the position.

Now that my internship has come to a close, I wanted to reflect back on my experience. After four months on the job, 21 staff meetings, 47 completed projects and countless media pitches and follow-up calls, here’s what I learned:

There is no job beneath you
I often hear people recite the adage, “Greet the janitor with the same respect as the CEO.” Who could argue that? However, some will roll their eyes and sigh when they have to do work that lacks prestige; the kind of work they might associate with tasks that are performed by janitors.

At the end of the day, nothing is ever too “menial.” I lost count of how many times I saw account leads and executives at NST making follow-up calls or compiling media lists. They did it without hesitation and without automatically pushing the work off on their trusty intern. Whether you’re putting together a quick social media post, or categorizing and renaming stock images on a server (not as bad as it sounds), it’s important to realize that every task has a purpose and contributes to a bigger picture. As a former sailor, I’m just glad I wasn’t swabbing a deck!

Don’t fear critiques, embrace them
Criticism can sometimes be hard and uncomfortable. Pile it on anyways. During one of my critiques, I learned my phone manner and interpersonal communication skills could use some work. Though it stung a little at first, I realized you only grow from situations that make you uncomfortable. When someone gives you a suggestion for how to do something better, don’t take it negatively. You’ll find most critiques aren’t meant to embarrass you; they’re meant to help you grow and succeed as a professional.

There’s nothing wrong with standing out
When I’m in a new crowd, it’s hard to let my hair down. In professional settings, we may not want to stand out, because we fear appearing unprofessional. I say scrap that. Who wants to fall in line and be like everybody else?

In a career focused on creativity, communicating messages and expressing ideas, express the novelties that make up who you are. It didn’t take long for me to see whom I was really working with: sports junkies, dress shoe connoisseurs, French bulldog enthusiasts, musicians and moonlighting pastry chefs. Everyone is an expert in some aspect of our job, whether it’s writing, social media, media relations, and that diversity of skill allows us to offer more comprehensive and effective solutions for our clients.

It’s okay to have fun in PR
I came to NST with a serious, almost-stuffy attitude about work because I thought that’s what I was supposed to be. I thought that’s what this whole “being professional” thing was about. After my first couple of Friday Social Hours, I learned that having fun at the workplace isn’t a myth. At NST, it’s part of the culture.

Looking back at my time at NST, I embraced every opportunity that was presented to me and took on every challenge head on. I was open to feedback and took it to heart. I let my personality show and that helped me become part of the team. These were all keys to my success as an intern.

One of NST’s core values is to push ourselves, clients and other members of the public relations profession to explore. I now understand that exploring is a crucial part of succeeding in PR and I encourage those who are looking to get their start in the field to do the same.