12 September 2011

Seven Tips for Success!

Posted by Jill Olszewski under: Uncategorized .

I cannot believe that the summer is over and September is here! As the saying goes, “time flies when you are having fun!” My seven months in the Department of Justice Office of Public Affairs (DOJ OPA) have been an incredible experience. From responding to reporter’s inquiries and pulling clips, to assisting with interviews and press conferences, the DOJ OPA has not only given me an insider’s perspective in to the many responsibilities of a government communications office but has also cultivated and enhanced my interest in political communications. So, without further ado, I thought I would spend my final blog post highlighting the seven top things I took away from my summer internship:

1.Don’t be afraid or nervous to dive in to the work of the office with which you are interning. OPA is a fast paced government communications office – had I not immersed myself in the priorities and responsibilities of the office, my internship experience would not have been nearly as rewarding.

2.Actively seek out opportunities in your internship that are of interest to you. I, for example, was interested in participating in a “background” conversation between a reporter and a DOJ attorney. Had I not asked the spokesperson in charge of the meeting if I could attend, I would have never understood one of the routine responsibilities of a DOJ press officer.

3.In the words of W&M in Washington Director Adam Anthony, “Pay your dues.” As an intern you should be willing to do anything that is asked of you with a smile on your face. Be it shredding (which is a great stress reliever), copying, or running errands – you should be more than willing to do it. Believe it or not, the fact that you will do anything and everything that is asked of you with a smile on your face will be noticed by your coworkers.

4.Coming from the person who overanalyzes just about everything – don’t sweat the small stuff. It is okay to make mistakes and don’t be afraid to ask questions. We are all human – mistakes happen, especially when you are in an environment that you are not completely familiar with. Treat each and every mistake as a learning opportunity. Ask questions, and move on. No one will think less of you.

5.Do outside research. I know this sounds silly. You are probably thinking, “I intern 40 hours a week, I am in school two-thirds of the year, why would I want to do research when I do not have to?” The answer – why wouldn’t you. Just about every day, there is a topic that is discussed in OPA that I am not familiar with. Taking a few minutes of my time to try and understand the subject in question, only serves to better prepare me for my internship and future endeavors.

6.Put 100 percent into your internship. I think this should go without saying. If you are not willing to go above and beyond the call of duty, why are you there? An internship is an opportunity to learn. If you are not willing to work hard to do so, then you are not only wasting your time but also your coworker’s time.

7.Last, and perhaps most importantly, take the time to form and cultivate relationships with your coworkers. I feel incredibly lucky to have such talented, driven, and welcoming colleagues. The friendships that I have formed over the last several months are relationships that I intend to have for the rest of my life. I encourage you in your future internships, and careers to take the time to chat, grab coffee, lunch, or dinner, or attend that evening happy hour – I promise you that you will not regret it.

So there you go – my advice and lessons learned from seven months at the Department of Justice Office of Public Affairs. I will forever remember and continue to learn from my experiences in OPA; it has truly been a once in a lifetime experience that I would recommend to any student interested in communications, politics, or law.

And on a final note, please do not hesitate to apply for the internship in the future and/or contact me with any questions. I wish you all the best in your future internship endeavors and hope that you all have an incredible semester!

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