We chatted to BIMM Bristol student, Caitlin Buller about her experience as an intern!
Here are the 12 things she has learnt during her time in London PR…
#1 It’s tough, but totally worth it
Studying and doing an internship sounds like a lot of work, right? Yes and no. Personally, I needed to do an internship (or get work experience) as part of my course but I would recommend it to anyone. There are downsides – you may miss some classes, you’ll get less contact time, and you may stress over deadlines even MORE than normal. However you also won’t really care because you’re doing something great. BIMM have been so understanding and supportive of my internship and I honestly don’t think other universities would have reacted in the same way. I learned to appreciate BIMM’s encouragement: they want us to succeed in the industry, not shy away from it.
#2 You’re getting involved with the industry and you’re gaining valuable experience: don’t waste it
I did an internship with a music PR company in London and on my first day I kind of got thrown in at the deep end, but in the best way. I got to spend the day with a cool band (who shall remain nameless) and shadowed them doing promo with some big companies. I could have really panicked and – to be quite honest – I had no idea what I was doing but I just had to go with it. What I was doing, the people I was meeting, was all fantastic experience – I wasn’t going to run away from it and waste it just because it was new (and a little scary!).
#3 Play it cool and be PROFESSIONAL
The band I met on my first day are pretty big and tour arenas in both the UK and US. I knew who they were and have their first album on my iPod. Do you think I said that? No. Because I was there to learn about PR, not to take selfies with a band I used to like. Pop-stars are just people like you and me and they don’t want to be made to feel uncomfortable, especially when they’re working. Just play it cool with whoever you’re meeting or working with. Chances are that they won’t act like the pop-star or big-shot you think they are and that you can chat to them like anyone. However be professional – I chatted with the band but I stuck to safe subjects and spoke at appropriate times. Keep a professional head and you’ll get on just fine.
#4 Travelling is gruelling but has to be done
Going from Bristol to London isn’t hard – car, bus, train – the possibilities are endless. However it does take time, and that goes for any place that you’re commuting to. The amount of time I’ve wasted just sitting staring out the window on a journey…it doesn’t bear thinking about. My tip: do some work or catch up on sleep. You can never have enough sleep (if you’re a university student, I’m guessing you already know that!).
#5 Sometimes it is about who you know…
I was lucky enough to have a mutual connection that got me my internship but wait…what’s that? BIMM’s full of industry professionals that currently work in the music business? Hey, looks like you’ve got connections too! Your tutors know people, your tutors know you – see if they can help you. As the saying goes – if you don’t ask, you don’t get.
#6 … but mostly, it’s about your personality
It’s all very well and good knowing the Head of Universal’s bff but if you’re a negative person that can’t communicate, do you think you’ll still get a job or internship? Probably not. Communication really is the key to everything, so try and work on that if you’re not so great at it. How you come across is really important – if you’re liked or respected people will remember you and will feel more inclined to help you out. Make sure your personality stands out in all the right ways and – quite simply – don’t be d**k. Avoiding that personality trait will get you places.
#7 Keep in contact
Network network network. They drum this into us at BIMM all the time and with good reason. So if you’ve managed to get work experience or an internship and it went well and they liked you – keep in contact! You might be able to work there again or they’ll recommend you for other opportunities. The occasional email to keep in touch won’t do you any harm, plus you won’t overwhelm the other party. You want them to remember you but without stifling them. Who knows where it could lead? Ask them to connect on LinkedIn or something. Facebook, Twitter etc. is a bit of a grey area as it really depends just HOW well you got on. If in doubt maybe avoid it unless they connect with you first.
#8 Do your research
Pretty self-explanatory here. Know the company, know your company’s clients, know the business. Or, y’know, find out as much as you can. It shows interest and eagerness which is really good for your employer to see. It will also help you do the tasks they set you. Googling the company won’t take long and you’ll be thankful you did it.
#9 Work hard and help out – it pays off
Don’t be half-hearted at your internship, even if you’re not enjoying it still do your best. If you act poorly and don’t do what they ask of you, it will reflect badly on you and not them. If you work hard and help out as much as you can, it will pay off.
#10 Working all day is TIRING
You’ve had part time jobs before but not necessarily worked all day. Wow, it’s tiring. How do people do this all day? How do they work 9-5 and then make evening plans without collapsing? It’s still a mystery to me but you will get used to it. It’s good practise for the future eh?
#11 Working all day is FUN
Hopefully your internship is enjoyable, so working all day should be really fun. See if you can put some banging playlists on while you reply to all those emails – good music can really make your day better. You will also get free cups of tea at most places of work, so that’s another bonus.
#12 You’ll miss it once it’s gone
I really miss my internship. I worked two days a week for a month and I wish I could do it every week! You might miss the job itself, the people, the office puppy (the office puppy is certainly someone I miss) but if you keep in contact, you’ll hopefully see them again. Hey, you may even end up working with them one day, wouldn’t that be nice? Just make the most of it while you’re there and take the opportunity to learn as much as possible. If you do that, then it’ll have been completely worth it!