Internship Reflections

Last night when I was catching up on some blogs, I came across Jennifer’s PeaceLovePR blog post from May titled “Taking Advantage of Interns”. Jennifer discusses how important it is to mentor interns, provide feedback  and mold student interns into the best professional they can be in the future. I loved the post and was reminded how thankful I am for three awesome internships I completed; specifically because of the way I, as the intern, was treated and what valuable tools and lessons I learned personally and professionally. The three internships I want to reflect on were with MDA, SBC Advertising and Intern Queen, Inc.

Last summer I interned in Washington D.C. for the Muscular Dystrophy Association. Their PR office is based out of Arizona and each summer, they hire 12 interns to work across the country in different MDA offices to fulfill the role titled as “Regional Public Affairs Coordinators”.  Sometimes I hear people bashing on non-profit PR internships, but this internship would blow every comment or judgment out of the water. Not only was it paid, but I learned more and had hands-on experience doing PR than I ever imagined. I worked in D.C. and was responsible for promoting MDA events /news there, but also in all of Delaware, Virginia and Maryland. I worked directly with the employees in my small office and also with everyone in the six other offices in my designated region. Everyone was so helpful with providing feedback on the work I was doing (and outfits I was wearing!) and teaching me more about MDA overall to target the local media specifically. The girls in my office and the other regional offices made me feel like a fellow employee, not a lowly intern and it didn’t hurt that I worked with some of the most fashionable ladies in DC!

One of my first days interning!

I had weekly conference calls with the PR office and the other interns where we discussed what we were working on, what out goals and tasks for the week were and how we could collaborate together on larger national projects. Roxanne & Kelli in the PR office were constantly teaching us more effective writing skills, new promotional ideas and would gladly answer all questions I had. Reading Jennifer’s blog post immediately reminded me how MDA’s internship program really treats interns as a valuable and necessary part of the organization and also how the MDA’s PR team and each regional office constantly look for ways to help the interns transition into the professional world. To learn more about this awesome internship, click here.

Over winter break, I interned briefly at SBC Advertising, which was a totally different experience compared to working at MDA. The days were quick-paced and I was thrown into the PR mix to create communication messaging, create summary presentations after different PR outreach programs, monitor traditional and social media and much more. A lot of the tasks that I was doing as an intern were new to me. The aspect of how I was treated as an intern was very similar to MDA though; in that I received feedback on work and learned a lot about myself. The account coordinators were not afraid to tell me if I did something wrong, and I appreciate it because it’s made me more detail-oriented. I was given a lot of responsibility to track media placements and had to use programs I was completely clueless about and SBC set the expectations high. Overall, the interns at SBC Advertising were treated with respect and I left the internship learning WAY more about PR than I did through all of my classes combined. As Jennifer’s blog post states: “You [the employer] are committing yourself to guiding your intern and teaching them the difference between good PR and bad PR; so when they accept a position, they will continue to contribute positively to the PR world.” That quote completely encompasses what my challenging internship at SBC did and the skills I learned have transitioned into my PR role in many student organizations.

Video clip from a holiday project for SBC's client, AJWright

My current internship is working for Lauren Berger, The Intern Queen. Lauren is the CEO of Intern Queen Inc and the website provides students with access to internships-and they can apply for free! It’s my first virtual internship (besides for the weekly conference calls with MDA’s PR team!) and I love it! Some projects I work on individually and others I work with the other (AMAZING!) three interns, Kayla, Chandra and Alyssa. We help Lauren promote and schedule her speaking tours to different colleges, maintain social media pages (Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, YouTube, Myspace), and work directly with companies to post internships on the site. This has been such an excellent experience for me-and Lauren as “the Intern Queen” obviously knows and understands relationships the employer and interns. The entire internship, I have had feedback on all work I’ve done; whether it’s a huge project or just a daily task. I also have felt comfortable asking her any questions; whether they are about Intern Queen Inc. or about my career path. Lauren has been an awesome mentor and through my internship, I’ve learned how to interact more effectively in the professional world.

Lauren Berger, The Intern Queen
Thanks again to Jennifer for sharing her thoughts about internships and the value and importance of mentoring, feedback and giving interns opportunities for success in the future. Thanks also to every employee at each of my internships that went out of their way to help shape my future (hopefully!) as a PR professional.

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