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  • Emily 6:07 pm on March 17, 2012 Permalink
    Tags: , internship tips,   

    How to Be a Better Intern … Without Superpowers 

    After only a few weeks at my internship, I realized something: If I wanted to be a better intern, I needed to read minds.

    I had just finished making a 150 page textbook for one of the courses that my office runs for retiring Foreign Service Officers when my boss came in for a “final check” before sending it off to the printer.  As I scrolled through each page, my boss gave me tweaks and corrections, muttering things like “Oh, yeah, he wanted us to change that after last year’s presentation.”  At first, I was impressed that my boss could remember all of these important little things, but I quickly became nervous.  I realized that the only way I could do a better job was to anticipate the changes that my boss was going to make, and since they were not written down anywhere, that meant reading her mind.

    Even though I knew that goal was a bit of a stretch, I tried to figure out what I could anticipate in my internship.

    In order to anticipate tricky situations and avoid wasting everyone’s time trying to fix things and tracking down help, I learned to fix the copy machine when it jams.  Making copies is not a huge part of my job, but because of the nature of our work, everyone, even my supervisor, ends up spending a few minutes a day wrestling with the machine.

    Office Space Copy Machine

    The wrong way to fix the copy machine. http://www.moviefanatic.com, from the movie Office Space

    Now, this isn’t just a little desktop printer, this is a piece of equipment that is 5 times my size and probably doubles as a tank.  It’s big, it’s bulky, it’s loud, and it is intimidating.  But I knew I could not avoid it, so I took the first paper jam I came across and fixed it.  It was frustrating, but now I know I don’t have to bother anyone else with paper jams.  It also felt good to take initiative and do something about a minor problem.

  • jv9968a 5:31 pm on December 11, 2011 Permalink
    Tags: , internship tips, ,   

    Final Reflection 

    Dear Future Intern at Riot Act,

    Congratulations! You have landed yourself in an internship right in the center of Washington DC’s entertainment industry. Riot Act is DC’s first Comedy Theater and that means there is always a million things going on and even more things to get accomplished. Here are my tips to making the most of your internship:

    Take initiative. On my first day, I was completely overwhelmed by all the new people and their openness to my ideas. I was used to being told what to do and completing it. At Riot Act, they trust you. If they hired you, that means that you are cable and they don’t want to waste your time. I was put on the team that worked with social media and Riot Act’s online presence. I was put in charge of writing and sending out Riot Act’s social media press release and I quickly learned that online, a picture grabs attention a lot fast then a page of words.
    Don’t be afraid to fail. The first event Riot Act hosted with an outside company, we experienced a ton of issues. This was the first time we had to collaborate with people outside our staff and while the event was not a disaster, there were small details that were overlooked. Who was in charge greeting people as the entered? Where is the best place to serve food without overcrowding? What the incentive for people at this even to come back to Riot Act and see a comedy show? We ended the event with a meeting where we listed what was to happen next time we hosted an even, and the next time we did, it ran a lot smoother. Everything is a learning experience.
    Traditional PR should never be forgotten, but it is not the only tool. I spent many days simply walking into hotels and business’s introducing Riot Act. Most people were receptive to this kind of commitment. A press release can do wonders, but people remember a friendly face over a nicely worded emails. We established connections just by making it through the door and handing out free passes to invite people to experience Riot Act first hand. It’s refreshing to know that what you are marketing is worth while. Once Riot Act got people to come once, it was almost a guarantee they would come back because of their great experience. (More …)

  • jv9968a 5:53 pm on December 5, 2011 Permalink
    Tags: holiday break, internship tips,   

    Thanksgiving Break 

    As I returned to my internship after a wonderful 5 days off, which I was lucky enough to spend at home at my family, I quickly learned that most people who worked at Riot Act got a glorious 24 hours off.

    In the world of a new business, especially a business in the entertainment industry, days off are few and far between. Riot Act had a comedian performing the Friday after Thanksgiving and had to promote that comic all week to help ticket sales. As a small business, everyone was working around the clock just to be able to take the holiday off.

    It’s just a reminder that when I graduate in May, I will no longer be a student with allocated time off. PR waits for no one, and that’s what is so exciting about the job. Luckily Riot Act has avoided any major crisis’s, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t always work to be done.

    Up this week is another event on Thursday for Yelp and another comic to promote for the weekend. I am well rested and ready to hit the ground running.

  • jv9968a 9:35 pm on November 18, 2011 Permalink
    Tags: , internship tips, , Project Assistant   

    Coffee Time 

    Coffee time is bonding time. It’s a small moment in the day to breathe, take second, and enjoy a warm beverage. Caffeine is the drug that surges through Riot Act day in and day out. With nights that can run as late as 5:00am and with an opening time of 10:00am everyday, coffee (or tea) is a much needed commodity in the office.

    As an intern, I manage much more reasonable hours then the rest of the office, but I am a little java junkie myself. So my new goal is anytime I go to get coffee, offer to get coffee for those in my office.

    It shows that I am taking a small initiative, and that I care. It is a simple act that can help me stand out or at least keep my managers awake through the end of the day.

    It is always good to keep looking for minor things that can set interns ahead of the curve. Interns these days are smart, and are all groomed and bred from fancy colleges. This means, that work wise, they can all be on an even playing field – especially if the intern tasks are more mundane. To stand out (in a good way!), it might take some creative thinking. My way to stand out – caffeine.

    Soon they will start associating the coffee rush with my presence, and never want to let me go. Just kidding, but they will definitely appreciate the thought.

  • jv9968a 5:16 pm on November 17, 2011 Permalink
    Tags: , , , internship tips   

    It’s Okay if This Isn’t It 

    I love my internship. I love the people I work with. I love the responsibilities they give me, but 11 weeks in I  realize that this probably isn’t what I want to do after graduation.

    And that’s okay.

    It’s not PR I don’t love, it’s working for one company. It can get a little stale. I think I would happier at a PR agency with more clients and a higher demand of PR activity.

    For Riot Act, every weekend we have a new comic. They are usually performing Thursday – Saturday, but at some point of a lot of the PR for each comic can become cut and paste. Each comic has there own style and certainly there own target audience, but generally it is fairly similar. This is not a bad thing, I just realized this is not my thing.

    Doing PR for one company, or one specific non-profit means you get become specialized, and increase relationships with partners. It give you the opportunity to work long-term techniques and take risks if the audience is already stable.

    On the other hand, PR agencies work with numerous clients at once, a person can become specialized in one area of PR – social media, grass root campaigns etc.

    Even though my internship is not exactly what I want to do in the future, it has given me an incredible amount of experience – not to mention it’s been a blast! That’s the point of internships. I’m happy I was able to discover this while in school, while I only promised a five month commitment instead of a two-year one. This will help me narrow my job pool when I graduate, and for that, I couldn’t be more grateful.

  • nn1702a 3:48 am on November 14, 2011 Permalink
    Tags: , internship tips   

    Fitting In 

    At my internship, there are two other interns and at first we barely interacted. It was weird because there was no time for us to chitchat or mingle, but after interning for about 3 months we have become good friends. Trying to get to know your fellow interns is necessary because you can make new friends and it can make your work place more pleasant.

    Before really getting to know the other interns, it was somewhat lonely because everyone sat in their own areas and doing their assigned tasks. I didn’t really like the way that was happening, so I had the guts to send out an email to them. In it, I told the other interns that since we all intern on the same day together, we should do lunch on Tuesday’s. They all loved the idea and replied with a yes. So ever since then, we’ve been getting lunch every week and learning more about one another!

    I found this was also rewarding aspect of my internship because I have made new friends and have learned how to deal working with others. It takes initiative because everyone is new when they intern, so why not reach out first? I was nervous in the beginning, but now during my lunchtime I never sit alone. My fellow colleagues are now my friends and whenever I need a lending hand in the office, I can always ask for some help and vice versa. It’s a nice feeling because it makes interning more enjoyable when you have people that you are close with. I’m really glad that once the semester is over, at least I’ve made friends that I’ll always stay in touch with. You never know, they might come in handy in the future when I’ll need a job!

  • Divya 9:51 pm on November 13, 2011 Permalink
    Tags: internship tips, , stress reduction   

    Keep Calm and Carry On 

    Senior year has been much more demanding than I ever thought possible, but when things get tough I just tell myself “keep calm and carry on.” It’s simple and some may think it’s silly, but it is truly great advice.

    It is hard to realize as a student, intern, leader, daughter, sister, etc. that things will move on a get better. Too often I find myself overwhelmed or stressed about things I have to do.  I have always been pretty good about managing my stress, but I find that it is absolutely key this year to figure exactly how I want to handle stressful situations.

    My best tool to combat stress?…PLANNING!

    Planning ahead can make an incredible difference in any situation. For example, this summer I knew that I wanted to broaden my experience and get a new internship. I was very worried about searching, interviewing, etc. However, I relieved myself of a lot of this pressure by creating a plan.  I told myself that I wanted to start my internship by mid-August. That meant that I needed to start searching at the end of June, giving myself time to look around, interview, and really figure out what I wanted out of an internship. That general timeline really helped me reduce stress and find an internship that I love.

    Obviously you can’t plan for everything, but knowing roughly what you are going to do in any situation can be beneficial in many ways. It may take 5 more minutes to sit down and write out your plans in your agenda, but it could result in more free time in the long run(maybe even put those extra hours into more sleep time!)


    • Sue Gordon 2:19 pm on November 14, 2011 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      Great post, Divya with two great tips– love the “keep calm and carry on” theme– and also the great advice about planning your job/internship search! You began your summer search at the end of June, giving you 6-8 weeks to find your position. For those seeking a spring internship, NOW is a great time to start searching and planning (remember it’s tough to reach people during the holidays). And if the search is slow- remember your advice to “keep calm and carry on”.

  • jv9968a 8:24 pm on November 13, 2011 Permalink
    Tags: , , , internship tips   

    If At First You Don’t Succeed 

    Last week Riot Act had one of it’s first rentals. A group of young professionals had rented out the show room for lunch and paid for a comic to entertain them while they eat. It was on a weekday afternoon, which is normally not a profitable time for a comedy club, so this was a great way for a little extra profit.

    Needless to say, it was a little rocky. We had over 200 young professionals, all very eager to explore Riot Act, but all very hungary. Unfortunately, without thinking of the congestion, we had set up our show room with one buffet line. This was the issue.

    As the intern, I helped the everyone set up the room, and then greeted people as they entered. It was about 20 minutes into greeting that I noticed people were leaving especially fast. I met to talk to my manager to discover that the line to get food was winding all around the room. People were getting fed up with waiting and decided that they could get their food elsewhere.

    At the time, there was very little we could do. We apologized to the young professionals and promised there would be enough food for them. We couldn’t offer refunds, since they hadn’t actually paid us. We just tried to be as friendly and receptive as possible and handed out Buy One Get One tickets for our comedy shows.

    This showed me, that even big companies make mistakes. This was not an event that was thrown together last minute, but it was one small detail that was not thought through and it threw the whole even off. Next time we will obviously have two, or even three, buffet lines. Until then, we will just learn from our mistakes and hope we don’t offend anyone enough for them not to give us a second chance.

  • Jessica Darmawan 4:21 pm on July 12, 2011 Permalink
    Tags: , forests, , , internship tips,   

    Seize the Opportunity 

    Last week I did something quite bold, and what my supervisor called “daring”. Being bold can lead to positive results when done at the right time and for the right purpose. Read on to learn what I mean by this.

    (More …)

    • Marie Spaulding 7:52 pm on July 13, 2011 Permalink | Log in to Reply


      Very impressive actions on your part! Sounds like a win-win for you and your supervisor as well as the governor. You set an excellent example of someone who takes initiative – keep it up.


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