Interview with an intern…
Tania Kouprach-Rolandi, August 2009
When looking for new recruits, managers look for candidates who have the right kind of
experience and the ability to step easily and effectively into the role. This is a particular
challenge for a young graduate where the potential employer must base his or her
employment decision on a short CV with relatively little work experience.
Internships can go a long way to helping both graduates and employers make informed
decisions. Graduates experience the day to day life of a profession they are considering,
allowing them to determine if this is really the right career path for them and thus
reducing the risk of harbouring false expectations.
Although an investment in time, a company can benefit hugely from taking on a graduate
intern who has been studying and researching latest developments in the field. For
example, an intern can bring fresh ideas from a younger generation, particularly in an
area such as social media trends. Also, an internship programme will allow employers to
determine if the graduate works well with the existing team and if they have the right skill
set; bringing the advantage of potentially being able to employ someone who already
knows your business.
Athena has a long history of hosting interns from formal schemes, as well as work
experience students; some of whom have returned to work at Athena. The following
interview was carried out last month with an intern from the USA, who shares with us her
decision to travel to the UK and what she has learnt from her internship at Athena.
Why did you do an internship?
I did an internship because having relevant work experience when I graduated was
extremely important to me. Many employers want to see what you have accomplished at
university level, and an internship, especially one abroad, really sets me apart from other
What were you expecting?
I’m not really sure what I was expecting. I was ready for anything, and I think that’s the
key, to be open-minded. I was expecting to walk away knowing a little bit more about
myself professionally, and more about the communication business, and I can say I have
certainly achieved both.
What attributes were you looking for in a company to carry out your internship?
I was looking for a company that would be able to provide the right kind of work
experience, and knew what they were doing, having employed graduates like myself in
the recent past. I also wanted a company that was willing to throw me into the deep end,
and not afraid to let an intern get involved with projects. I certainly got that with Athena.
How has an internship benefited your future career?
An internship has benefitted my future career in so many ways. You learn what it is like
to work in a place where you feel completely out of your comfort zone. You learn to
adapt and pick things up quickly, and are prepared for any task. You also learn so much
about yourself and your limits.
Has your internship helped you decide what you want to do after graduating?
My internship at Athena has helped me figure out what I want to do after graduation. You
begin to learn your likes and dislikes professionally. You begin to see what you excel at,
and what could require more work. I may still not know exactly what I want to do yet, but
this internship has certainly allowed me to narrow down my choices, to help me define
what the best career is for me.
How did you find your time at Athena and what was the highlight?
I found my time at Athena to be very productive. Although I was here for only 6 weeks
and unfortunately never saw a whole project through, I did experience the various stages
of a project on different accounts, including a pitch and producing a media coverage
report. I feel this is a great way to do it. All clients have different objectives and needs
and I was able to be involved in range of both PR and Med Ed activities. Working on a
multitude of different projects allowed me to see what is out there, and how creative you
can be. As for the highlight of my time, it was participating in a pitch. I really enjoyed
learning about a new product and area, as well as the creative elements and strategic
thinking that is required.
What advice would you give someone thinking of doing an internship?
If I were to give advice to someone thinking of doing an internship, I would just say be
open-minded, don’t be afraid to ask questions, and don’t be afraid to be yourself in the
What was of greatest value to you?
The work experience overall was of huge value, especially because I was working
abroad. Learning how things operate in a different part of the world is such a great thing
to see, particularly when you plan on working with people. It prepares you to be ready
and accepting to whomever you come across and whatever comes your way.
What would your advice be to a company that would like to host an intern?
My advice to any company that would like to host an intern is to have confidence in them
and give them work. Let them be a part of the big projects, and really allow the intern to
be hands on. They are going to get the best experience from you, and will thank you for
it in the future.
For further information on this, or any other healthcare communications programme,
please contact James Harper on firstname.lastname@example.org