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Diary of a PR Intern in New York City – Week 1

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intern on the computer

This week, I started my summer internship in New York City with a Public Relations firm. I’m so excited to be able to have this experience and so far, it’s been great! Since I know many CF readers want to do an internship in the future, are participating in an internship program now, or dream of some day having a job or internship in a city like New York, I’m going to recap my weeks interning so that you can live vicariously through me and learn from my experiences.

You’ll hear about some of my responsibilities, my day-to-day clothing selection, the food and shopping I discover in NYC and more, so tune in each Tuesday for my weekly diary! Read on to see how my first two days went.

Day 1:

What I wore:

Trousers – Debenhams, Tank Top – Forever21, Blazer – Forever21, Necklace – Dorothy Perkins, Shoes – Wet Seal

Recap (this won’t always be the format, but just so you get an idea of my typical day time-wise):

  • 6:15am: Wake up to my alarm clock blaring. This is the earliest I’ve been up since my junior year of high school and I’m not in the mood. I went to sleep at 2am the night before because of my nerves. I get out of bed, do my hair and make-up and put on my outfit. I’m wearing flip flops and have my heels in my bag because I know how much pain I’m going to be in if I wear them all day. I double check to make sure I wrote down the address, trains I need to take and phone numbers I need in my phone. I’m terrible with directions.
  • 7:10: Leave for train station to get a spot for my 7:32 train. It’s a 40 minute ride to the city, and I’m figuring 20 minutes for subway rides, and 10 minutes of walking. I should get there by 8:40, which leaves 20 minutes or so to calm myself down before entering the office.
  • 7:17: I’m at the station and there seem to be a million people on the platform waiting, so I wait with them. I guess people get there early to get a spot…
  • 7:22: Why is there a train here? Did I read the schedule wrong? 7:22 could have easily been mistaken for 7:32. I get on the train.
  • 7:40: I’m an idiot. I’m sitting on the side facing the sun. I’m holding a hot coffee with sun blazing on my face, and I’m wearing almost all black in the middle of the summer.
  • 8:05: I get into Penn Station and follow the signs to the subway. Wow, it’s surprisingly easy… Too easy… I double check everything and seem to be right. A train pulls up just as I swipe my MetroCard, so off I go.
  • 8:15: I walk off the train and all the way down the platform to where my exit is. I realize that I have an hour until I’m supposed to be there, and I’m a mere 6 blocks away. I walk to the office, realize it’s way too early, and continue walking around the area. It’s a few blocks from Central Park, and in the middle of designer heaven: I spot Chanel, Bergdorf Goodman, Hermes and DKNY within the first few minutes. This is no place for a college-budgeted fashionista.
  • 8:45: It’s a million degrees, and I’ve been walking around aimlessly for a half hour. I’m pretty sure I’ve window shopped an entire summer wardrobe, and I’ve passed the same construction workers about 6 times. I decide to grab an iced coffee, my second coffee of the day, just to kill time.
  • 9:05:I decide I can safely go in without being the first one in the office who ends up waiting forever for people to show up. Once I’m inside, I’m met by other interns and someone who is going to show us around. We briefly meet all of the staff currently in the office and find out where everything is.
  • 9:20: I’m sitting in the conference room with the 6 other interns. One is running late and we’re waiting for her. In our small talk, we’ve established that I’m the youngest person there. All the other interns have either graduated or will be graduated by next summer. I’m intimidated.
  • 9:35: We’re greeted by a few members of the team, which is not large. We go over certain protocols, expectations, do a quick icebreaker, and listen to the backgrounds of our superiors. Thank god I’ve been writing for CF and have something to say, since everyone else has such impressive backgrounds. We’re also each given a book to read pertaining to PR.
  • 11:30: After a quick breakfast break and more small talk with my co-interns, we are brought to computers to take a writing test. I’ve known about this “test” since last week, but I’m still nervous. I’ve never interned in PR. We are given a company and have to write a pitch, press release and discuss what our plan would be pre-launch, launch and post-launch to promote and brand the product. I’ve never done any of this and I don’t even know where to begin, but they’ve assured us that they’re not going to kick us out if we haven’t done these things before. I don’t really believe them, but I feel slightly less nauseous.
  • 1:25pm: I finish my writing test. We were told to take a lunch break after we were done, and it seems like no one is done around me, so I go to lunch on my own. I aimlessly wander down a side street and get a salad that’s just below my everyday $10 lunch budget.
  • 1:45: I take the elevator back up to the office. I don’t remember if they said be back by 2pm or 2:30, so I make sure to be back by 2. No one is back yet, so I start reading my assigned book. I see the team going over our writing tests in the conference room.
  • 2:10: Clearly, we had until 2:30.
  • 2:20: The other interns begin to arrive. We sit in the lobby while watching our writing tests be evaluated. It’s nerve racking.
  • 2:45: We’re moved into a small conference room and continue our small talk.
  • 3:05: We’re assigned to our divisions based on our writing tests. The options: spirits and liquors, hospitality and travel, and lifestyle (beauty, fashion, technology, etc.). I’m given lifestyle, as I had hoped. Go me!
  • 3:15: We’re assigned our desks, log into our computers, set up our e-mails, recorded our voicemails, meet more staff, and then are given stacks of press kits to look over. We’re also told to look at each company’s website to get an idea of who our division works with.
  • 6:00: After re-reading each press kit 5 times and clicking through every single page of each website, we’re told we can leave. I kick off my heels, replace them with flip flops and I’m out the door.

Day 2

What I Wore:

Trousers – Miss Selfridge, Flats – Bergdorf Goodman, Watch – Swatch, Body Suit – Debenhams, Cardigan – H&M

Cool Things I Did:

  • Learned how to use a program that lists every type of major media outlet (magazines, radio, TV, blogs, etc.) and the contacts within it (editors, writers, etc.) in order to create lists to pitch certain products to. For example: if you want to pitch a new funky lipgloss only to magazines in New York that target girls 18-25, you could find all magazines that fit that criteria in a few clicks. Put it this way: every  major magazine’s direct phone numbers to editors and any other person of importance were listed on a huge screen in front of me. I swooned.
  • Ate lunch in a cafe inside of DKNY.
  • Searched for beauty and fashion blogs that we may want to pitch to in the future (and got complimented on my extensive repertoire!).
  • Met with the lifestyle division manager and went over my resume.
  • Got invited to a lecture on fashion entrepreneurship… and get to go! How cool!

Things I Did That Aren’t That Cool, but I Have No Choice Because I’m an Intern:

  • Learned how to clip articles that feature one of the clients.
  • Watched my co-interns sort magazines that we keep in the office, which I will probably have to do in the future.
  • Sat at a computer all day until my eyes were blurry.
  • Answered my first call only to find that the person had hung up as I shakily said my greeting.
  • Learned how to log billable time.
  • Listened to several lectures on how to do things.
  • Had to continuously move from my desk so that my computer could be updated with the newest version of Flash and other technical difficulties.

What I Learned on Day 2:

  • I should start a blog. After reading them all day, for hours, I’m really inspired to write my own. If only I had the time…
  • Being a fashion maven is great. Instead of organizing magazines, I was asked to keep looking for blogs since I was right on target. Go me!
  • Never wear Tory Burch flats in an effort to be comfortable.
  • Shut the headlights off on your car so that you don’t get off the train (which was delayed by a 45 minutes as it is) to find a car with a dead battery. Standing in a parking lot with no shoes on, in pants and a sweater, waiting for someone to pick you up is no fun during the summer.

What Do You Think?

Are you interning this summer? Have you started? What is your internship like so far? If you’re not interning yet, do you want to sometime in the future? What are you doing for the summer instead? Let us know in a comment!

Posted on on June 15, 2010 / Filed Under: College Life / Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

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65 Responses to “Diary of a PR Intern in New York City – Week 1”

  1. 1
    June 15th, 2010 at 4:33 pm

    This post sounds JUST like my internship in the city 2 summers ago. I worked at the soap, All My Children, and commuted from north Jersey. The trains/subways were painful to do on a daily basis, but the internship itself was awesome.

  2. 2
    June 15th, 2010 at 4:58 pm

    I really like your first day outfit :)
    Sounds like your learning a lot though! Good luck with the rest of your internship!

  3. 3
    June 15th, 2010 at 5:18 pm

    Love the outfits! :) And I can totally relate to the whole getting up early thing.
    I’m aspiring to work for a magazine like Glamour someday, and really want to do an internship when I’m old enough. Do you think it’s necessary for me to get an internship in NYC before graduating from college, or do you think an internship at a magazine closer to home would work just as well? (I live in Pittsburgh).

  4. 4
    June 15th, 2010 at 5:19 pm

    Oh my god! I LOVE this post! It’s amazingly funny but still extremely insightful to an internship. I love how you did the timeline of your day. I know it’s not going to be everyday but it was great! Please keep writing all the wonky things that happened during the internship day. It’s awesome! Thank you!

  5. 5
    June 15th, 2010 at 5:22 pm

    It sounds like you’re going to have a fabulous summer. Keep us posted!

    I start my first internship on Monday and can’t wait. Your post got me even more excited. :)

    xoxo Hannah

  6. 6
    June 15th, 2010 at 5:35 pm

    Wow, this post was really interesting! =] Please keep writing some more, I love it!
    You are so lucky! (:

    xoooxox

  7. 7
    June 15th, 2010 at 5:48 pm

    im so happy you guys are doing stuff on PR…it’s the career i wanna choose, so i’ll love to know more about it!

  8. 8
    June 15th, 2010 at 5:53 pm

    What a great read, Sarah! Very interesting! Good luck with the internship and I’m looking forward to reading your posts!

  9. 9
    June 15th, 2010 at 5:57 pm

    i was super excited to read this post. i just graduated with a bachelors in Psychology and recently realized I want to work in PR (lifestyle also!!). Can’t wait to read more!

  10. 10
    June 15th, 2010 at 6:18 pm

    My college requires everyone to do an internship every year. Most people do them in January, but some people do them in the summer. I have done both of mine so far in January. As an education major, its easier to get the required 140 hours done when school is actually in session :-)

    Getting up early and going to bed early sucks when all of your friends are staying up late. In 2009, I did 10 hour days and finished my required hours in just two weeks. But I learned so much at both of my internships. I have already set up an internship for this coming year and I can’t wait!

  11. 11
    June 15th, 2010 at 6:23 pm

    This is awesome :)! I’m interning in the corporate world, so probably much less interesting but I love the way you’ve laid this all out. I’m excited for this feature!

  12. 12
    June 15th, 2010 at 6:31 pm

    I absolutely love your outfit for the second day! Would you recommend investing in a pair of Tory Burch flats? They are very cute, but are they comfortable?

  13. 13
    June 15th, 2010 at 6:37 pm

    Start a blog! I’m a fourteen year old high school student and an Irish show dancer with some semblance of a social life- if I can find the time, anyone can. And I enjoyed your writing style.

  14. 14
    June 15th, 2010 at 6:57 pm

    I am interning on capital hill. I really liked this and relate to it. Some times it is really exciting and fun and sometimes it’s just really boring.

  15. 15
    June 15th, 2010 at 7:02 pm

    I totally know what you mean about commuting. I’m interning in the political field, and I swear I commute like 3 hours a day in total, I hate it, but atleast we’ll have some killer experience and references by the end of it!

  16. 16
    June 15th, 2010 at 7:08 pm

    This was great! I interned for a fashion/beauty magazine last summer in NYC and wore heels the first day. I quickly learned that I should have brought flip-flops with me.. so you are already one step ahead of where I was on my first day! But keep this up.. I really enjoyed reading about your experiences!

  17. 17
    June 15th, 2010 at 7:36 pm

    This was so much fun to read! I totally know what you mean about the Tory Burches…

    @Dionella In my experience along with a few of my friends’ Tory Burch flats aren’t very comfortable. I live in San Francisco and I walk A LOT so I wanted a nice pair of flats. Even after “breaking them in” they give me major blisters every time I wear them.. I have been thinking about getting them stretched. IMO I would just save your money. :)

  18. 18
    June 15th, 2010 at 7:54 pm

    I loved this post!! very fun to read

    Sarah – are you from long island? my train ride to the city is 40 minutes too and I noticed you go to bing, which is where practically half my high school goes.

  19. 19
    June 15th, 2010 at 7:54 pm

    i loved reading this post! best of luck with your internship!

  20. 20
    June 15th, 2010 at 8:06 pm

    Wow, this was great! Sounds like a crazy couple of days, but it’s going to be an amazing experience for you. I just started an internship too, but it’s not insane as yours. Good luck, and I’m looking forward to this series.

  21. 21
    June 15th, 2010 at 8:44 pm

    I loved this post.
    I haven’t started interning yet due to a drastic switch in schools and major (from engineering to finance). However, I could relate so much with my first day at a new campus…my new campus is right smack in the middle of downtown. Hopefully, after the fall semester I will have learned enough finance to try and get an internship and I will most definitely be looking back at this post for some comfort!

  22. 22
    June 15th, 2010 at 9:09 pm

    I’m so jealous! I just graduated high school and I’m already so excited for my first internship… which will hopefully be sooner, rather than later!

  23. 23
    June 15th, 2010 at 9:34 pm

    Wow your internship is literally JUST like mine! Except mine is at a PR agency in Chicago. I can relate to the subway commute, the cool programs, the blogs, how to record billable time, clipping articles, etc etc. It’s all relative! Good to know there are people who feel the same way I do.

  24. 24
    June 15th, 2010 at 10:03 pm

    Are you interning at DeVries? I applied there, and it sounds just like it! Congrats on the job- sounds like fun and a great experience!

  25. 25
    June 15th, 2010 at 10:09 pm

    Ohhh girlfriend…I learned the shoe lesson the hard way too. I was so excited to wear the louboutins I got for my birthday to work, and I was miserable by lunch time. So of course I wore them again the next day haha. I’m currently interning in finance and I can’t believe how similar our experiences are!! Can’t wait for next week’s post!

  26. 26
    June 15th, 2010 at 10:10 pm

    I’m gonna buy Outfit #1 as soon as I’ve got the cash. Fantastic!

  27. 27
    June 15th, 2010 at 10:21 pm

    This is a GREAT article! If anyone is still looking for internships, you should check out Intern Queen.com – free internship listings & great advice for everyone whether you are applying for internships or just want to make the most of your current internship. Definitely check it out!

    Good luck with the rest of your internship <3

  28. 28
    June 15th, 2010 at 10:23 pm

    Loving this new series of entries, I’ve completed one pr/marketing internship at a non-profit and will be hearing back next week to see if I get a second internship (at a different non-profit). I’ve never though about pairing a blazer with tank tops, might have to do that (although not during summer, way too hot to wear a blazer all day in MN).

    Spending all day on a computer is how I spent most of my days, and I always had to remind myself to take short breaks every so often so my eyes wouldn’t hurt. I’ve also thought about starting a blog (I have a wordpress account already), but I’ve just got to push myself to get it started!

  29. 29
    June 15th, 2010 at 11:17 pm

    Omg!!!! I’m thinking about majoring in Ad/PR! It’s interesting to see what its like, especially since I’m a New Yorker and will probably have to intern here.

    It sounds both interesting and terrifying at the same time

    Good Luck!!

  30. 30
    June 15th, 2010 at 11:54 pm

    I’m interning in NY this summer too (for a great start up, PageDaily.com), we should have a CF intern in the city meetup =]

  31. 31
    June 16th, 2010 at 12:13 am

    @dionella I love my tory burch flats, I’ve never gotten a blister in them and I walk to class and back in them often. Mine do not have elastic on the back, maybe that’s why mine are so comfy?

  32. 32
    June 16th, 2010 at 12:32 am

    love your insight! i’m interning with a big outdoorsy retailer this summer in the Outerwear Merchandising dept. & loving everything i’ve learned. so interesting to hear what others are doing at their internships!

    good luck with everything!! :)

  33. 33
    June 16th, 2010 at 12:33 am

    nice simple out fits
    must be fun to intern at jobs u love

  34. 34
    June 16th, 2010 at 12:41 am

    @chelsea I’m sure that’s the reason. Mine are the ones with the elastic back. I think it’s the fact that it’s kind of scrunched back there that gives me the blister… I might check into getting the kind you have. I always love an excuse to buy beautiful shoes!

  35. 35
    June 16th, 2010 at 2:33 am

    I absolutely LOVE this post! I’m continually fascinated with what people do in their day, and this gives me a great reference point once I start look for internships. I can’t wait for the next post!

  36. 36
    June 16th, 2010 at 3:26 am

    I should search for a finance/banking intership, but here (Romania) banks aren’t that eager to “hire” students…
    Ohh well, that’s life..
    But, because of my blog, I got a PR job for a shoe company, and besides that I’m gonna do a couple photo shoots with their products too:)
    I’m looking forward for the styling part.
    Loved this post!!

  37. 37
    June 16th, 2010 at 8:03 am

    Love this post, and am excited for follow-ups. I’ve got only one week of my internship left, yay! I hear you on packed subway trains and strange lunch breaks.. although the salad here is much cheaper then in NYC. Although, of course, I’m eating it on a park bench and not in a DKNY store.

  38. 38
    June 16th, 2010 at 9:28 am

    Sarah where are you from?

    I’m from long island and I too take a horribly early train to penn and then a subway to get to my pr internship!

    I also loved reading this because I loved seeing the similarities and differences between our internships! I’m doing PR at Hearst Magazines, what firm are you at?

  39. 39
    June 16th, 2010 at 11:15 am

    Just re-reading the entry again (along with the comments), and I’ve got to sympathize with all of you taking trains into your internship. I had an hour and a half drive (or longer depending on traffic) to my internship and I was up at 4 am, leaving by 6:15 and into my internship by 8:30 (with a stop for caffeine at Caribou). I would have given anything for public transportation to be an option for me (cheaper than spending $60 a week on gas and I wouldn’t have to deal with rush hour), but it just wasn’t feasible with where I lived and where I interned.

    I did a series of 5 (suppose to be six but they never got my final entry up) blog posts for career services at my university as an intern blogger, so check it out if you are interesting on what a marketing/pr intern does at a nonprofit (an interesting compare and contrast with your internship at a PR firm Sarah). Just click on my name and you will be taken right to it. And I’m thinking if I get a second internship, I’ll does some posts on that (and get my own blog started)!

  40. 40
    June 16th, 2010 at 4:45 pm

    Cool! It’s great to hear about what working in PR actually means, day to day.

  41. 41
    June 16th, 2010 at 6:05 pm

    this was so interesting & i really enjoyed reading it! what is your exact major?

  42. 42
    June 16th, 2010 at 9:01 pm

    This is so cool. I’m about to start my first real internship (by real I mean not telecommute). I love seeing what the day-to-day life of an intern is like, and the outfits aren’t bad either. ;)
    LOVE IT! xo

  43. 43
    June 16th, 2010 at 11:10 pm

    i remember commuting on the train to nyc – i have to agree with jennifer, though – at least you don’t have to drive! on the train you can catch up on sleep or do some reading.

  44. 44
    June 17th, 2010 at 2:19 am

    I thoroughly enjoyed reading this post! Sounds like you are going to have one AMAZING summer! Seems like you’re off to a good start! Good luck!

  45. 45
    June 17th, 2010 at 8:26 am

    I love day-diary posts. It’s so cool! I wish you luck!

  46. 46
    June 17th, 2010 at 2:33 pm

    I am currently working at an internship in Atlanta right now for mattieologie. (http://mattieologie.com). So far i have learned alot when it comes to fashion. Mattie has worked in new york before. Hopefully one day i can experience an internship in the big apple!!

  47. 47
    June 17th, 2010 at 4:45 pm

    I LOVE THIS POST !!!

  48. 48
    June 18th, 2010 at 2:49 pm

    Hey Sarah (and everyone,

    Internships are always really hard. Trying to figure out if you’ll fit in, making sure you get your work done (and in on-time), deciding when to ask for help – it’s stressful stuff!

    I like to find media on the Internet to help people feel better. I’ve found this one for you: http://www.pepfly.com/a/6560
    Check it out – I hope you find this video helps you get some work done…

    ^CP

  49. 49
    June 18th, 2010 at 8:22 pm

    I loved it! I bet it so exciting. What are you majoring at?

  50. 50
    June 19th, 2010 at 10:09 pm

    I’m only in high school still trying to figure out what I want to do with myself. I’m a girl of many backgrounds. I love science, dance, fashion and writing. They are in totally different spectrums. I search collage fashion religiously and when I read your article and was totally inspired. I’ve always wanted to do a high school internship but I wasn’t sure about how it would be. Now I’m convinced that it’s something I’ll do in collage. Thank you so much!

  51. 51
    June 21st, 2010 at 7:10 am

    Hey! I really liked this post-cum-blog. I loved your first day’s outfit a lot….the bright colour of the tank top and the dull grey blazer matched each other pretty well.:)

  52. 52
    June 21st, 2010 at 5:34 pm

    This all sounds interesting. Which PR book in particular did they have you read?

  53. 53
    June 23rd, 2010 at 4:31 am

    Thats a really good opportunity to intern in NYC I want to intern in a big city like New York when I m a bit older! It seems like everything is going okay I hope youll be successful(:

  54. 54
    June 24th, 2010 at 12:23 am

    I am starting my internship at a communications company this Friday and have had jitters for DAYS! This has made me SO excited to start though!! Thank you so much for sharing your experience! I want to do PR as well and now I know I’m not alone with pre-internship nervousness!

  55. 55
    July 16th, 2010 at 3:29 pm

    I love this! I’ve been in the process of applying for internships across NYC in magazine companies. It’s so nerve-racking but I know it will be worth it! Thanks for posting these, you have a great knack for writing blogs.

  56. 56
    July 19th, 2010 at 9:49 am

    Im here in ny now and this is my 3rd time. But i promise one needs a pair of flats and sneakers to walk these streets. The city is crowded,dirty yet such a beautiful historic place just like what we see in the movies. But yea the subways are so overwhelming but ppl swear they r easy once u get used to it. But thanx for the great feedbak i was in ralphlauren office n the fashion district the other day n i swear i cuda blown my whole tuition on that whole block lol.

  57. 57
    September 14th, 2010 at 10:58 pm

    Hello :)
    I was just wondering if anyone knows the best way to go about applying for an internship with a PR company. I live in Montreal and I would love to intern somewhere next summer, and I don’t the best way to go about it..if anyone has any ideas I would love to hear them!!
    Thank you!

  58. 58
    September 3rd, 2012 at 2:08 am

    Hello I am looking for a PR intern any suggestions ?

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