July 1, 2020

What’s it like to start a PR internship virtually?


Jess Richardson

Starting an internship can be nerve-racking enough but Jess, our latest Fanclub recruit, had to deal with the added worry of starting in the midst of a global pandemic! Yet, with a huge smile and large cuppa in hand, she logged into Zoom and got to work on her first day as Fanclub's first-ever virtual intern. Read Jess's blog to find out how she got on.

My first day as a PR intern went something like this: Woke up. Got changed. Made myself some peanut butter and banana on toast with honey (aka fancy brekkie) and a big cuppa. Went back up to my bedroom.

I started my internship at Fanclub in May and - in case you’ve been off-planet for the last 3 months - we were slap bang in the middle of a pandemic. I already had a few worries about starting a new role in a new place with new people; now I had to add to all this newness being remote. Luckily none of my coworkers had ever started a job in the midst of a national lockdown either, so it was new to everyone.

How can you get the most out of a virtual internship?

Ask away - Sat behind a screen, it’s not easy to know if what you’re doing is right, but putting what would have been a shout across the office into a written question initially felt a bit awkward. Without asking those questions, however, I think I would have spent a lot more time panicking and less time learning.

Make notes - Although asking questions is completely normal, sending a message every five minutes could be a tad distracting. Taking notes throughout the day on things I was a bit unsure of or found interesting meant I could address any issues more organically the next time I spoke to the team, and has also given me a valuable record of things I’ve done.

Get stuck in - Before starting, I had a big concern: will working remotely leave me feeling left out? It’s hard to feel part of a group when you’re new, even when you’re allowed to be within 2m of each other. Getting to know people without the aid of natural interactions sometimes means jumping in head-first. For instance, in a game of “Desert Island Crisps” that we played during my first Friday drinks with the team, I revealed that I like to eat my crisps topped with slices of banana. Although this was a revelation my colleagues didn’t need, want, or ask for, it definitely broke the ice.

Get out - How do you avoid getting bored of your desk whilst WFH? The answer seems obvious but working by a window and going for a run in the morning or a walk at lunch has saved me from resenting my desk too much. To combat Zoom fatigue I’ve also been encouraged to take meetings by phone or without video if I needed to.

Be proactive - Sometimes I’ve finished a task before being formally given the next one. I try to use this time to think ahead or read around the subjects I’ve been working on.

What are the benefits of a virtual internship?

Being an intern, even virtually, has given me insight into the broad spectrum of opportunities within PR. Every day has brought something new and I’ve been able to try a bit of everything; from research and writing, to brainstorming creative campaigns, to pitching to the media. Concerns about feeling alone, out of my depth and being left to my own devices never transpired; my colleagues have never been more than a Slack away and always incredibly happy to help.

In some ways starting from home has been great. Holding meetings via Zoom meant I could frantically google terms like KPI and SOV to keep up with what was being said. Working within familiar surroundings has helped when I’ve felt nervous or unsure. The challenge of keeping Friday drinks interesting in the digital sphere has led to some novelty activities such as a Zoom-taught salsa class and rap-parody pub quiz. And, perhaps most importantly with the hot weather we’ve had, I’ve been saved from the commute on the Central Line.

Myself and the lovely Fanclub PR team

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