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Sparkpr: Advice from my intern manager

March 30, 2011

Meghan Kelly, Sparkpr intern

By Meghan Kelly

Remember the 1960s, when “The Man” was the enemy and all you wanted was to escape from under the thumb of stifled creativity? Of course you don’t; you were born in 1988. Despite the years passed, however, resentment of “The Boss” lingers. Why is that the case?

An intern manager is your #1 resource for guidance and education in the field. Interning is an opportunity to explore a profession from the inside, and we need to utilize the internal structure above us – our managers – as a tool for success.

Sparkpr intern manager

Meghan’s Sparkpr manager: Stephan P.

To start that process, I picked my own manager’s mind.  Stephan provided me with some excellent insight into improving performance.

What are the challenges associated with being an intern’s manager?

Stephan: Allocating enough time to show that intern the ropes. Managing is a job within itself, so I have to make sure I’m lassoing the crazy world that is PR, alongside guiding my intern.

How can an intern relieve the pressure?

Stephan: By being proactive – ask questions, raise your hand, make some noise. We know you’re there, but if you’re engaging managers directly, they can take action much more decisively.

Name the top five qualities you want in an intern.

Stephan: 1) Assertiveness – you need to be able to speak up.  2) Honesty – Hold up the integrity your company, even if you’re only there for a few months.  3) Creativity – Don’t be afraid to flex that right brain. Believe it or not, we hired you for your skills!  4) Organized – Like I said, PR is crazy. If you want to survive, you need to stay on top of your projects.  5) Patient – Unfortunately, your coworkers won’t always have a second to answer a question. Be patient, but persistent.

How can an intern show their value in the office?

Stephan: Leverage your youth. Interns have a fresher mind than someone who has spent years in the grind. You have more experience with emerging products and trends. Integrate those experiences and become the teacher. For instance, social networking is a key factor in businesses today and I occasionally find that interns are the ones who know it best.

Put “getting coffee” on a scale of Appreciated : Antiquated : Degrading.

Stephan: Oh, antiquated. I want my interns taking calculated risks, not pouring my Splenda.


The Sparkpr couches, where interns often have 1-on-1 meetings with their managers.

Name 3 indicators that a PR intern has had a full internship.

Stephan: If they:  1) Know what it means to meet a deadline.  2) Understand the value of media – both traditional and new media – and how it fits in the big picture.  3) Have the ability to multitask, prioritize and understand client interactions.

Lastly and most importantly…..

Who is your favorite intern?

Stephan: Obviously you.

(I’m his only intern.)

If you have a question you’d like a manager to answer, leave it in the comments and the interns of Sparkpr will circle them around the office!

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Jamie Walker March 31, 2011 at 9:48 am

Love this, great insight Stephan!


Kevin March 31, 2011 at 11:33 am

I am glad the focus of internships has changed from subservience to mutual and beneficial respect. It is great companies are finding the input of the inexperienced to be a value and interns are given more opportunity to contribute beyond pouring the boss coffee. Great article!


Diane March 31, 2011 at 4:45 pm

Stephan you are the man!!!!!


Meredith Obendorfer March 31, 2011 at 10:37 pm

This was awesome, Meghan! Very creative. Plus you got Stephan to smile *that* big! 🙂


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