Apr 06 | Dana, Director of Public Relations
Intern. A year and a half ago this word conjured up ideas of a student, arms full of drink carriers with the office coffee order for the day, scrambling to make it into the office on time or suffer the consequences. But maybe I’ve just watched too many movies.
I didn’t get a head start on internships in my college career. My internship here at Patterson/Bach is only my second, which pales in comparison to some of my fellow classmates’ four or eight. But when it comes to an internship I think it’s quality, not quantity that gets you further in your academic and professional career. As a senior in college, I’ve taken all the required courses from Intro to Public Relations and Advertising all the way up to Advertising Copywriting, Writing for PR and the class I’m currently in, Ad Campaigns. And they’ve all been a big help. I can write, sure, but knowing what to include in a press release or a media advisory was not something I knew on my own. I think if I had tried my hand at an internship before my junior year of college I would have been a hindrance to whomever I ended up interning for. Internships are supposed to be mutually beneficial. I’m bringing the skill set I acquired in my classes and my supervisor is teaching me how to apply that skill set in the real world.
But the classes are the foundation, the jumping off point. Nothing compares to getting your feet wet. I may have learned how to write a press release in Writing for PR, but where was the class for learning how to upload it into a program like Constant Contact to send it to media contacts? Who knew there was an entire database of media outlets and media contacts called Vocus that Public Relations (and even Government) professionals use all the time? Guess all those movies lead me to believe someone in the PR world just flipped open their phone and got a hold of their good buddy Joe the Journalist down at the local newspaper.
I’d like to say “a typical day in the office for me is like,” but there is no typical day. There’s always something new to work on and I love the real world challenge of time management and prioritizing what needs to get done first. I may be responsible for responding to Twitter posts and updating fans on Facebook every Monday morning but if something else more important comes up I better be able to switch gears and set the other stuff aside. And that’s the type of real world experience that will come in handy no matter where I end up in my career.
I think the most important part of any internship is knowing that what you’re doing is not busy work. When I leave the office I know that what I was working on will be worked on by my supervisor because it has to get done. Whether it’s plugging in dates for a production schedule for June, going through a media contact list or filling out information for a client in a spreadsheet, what I’m working on is important. And not only are the things I get to work on important but they’re also helping me become a well-rounded Ad/PR professional. So no, I don’t get coffee for everyone in the office. And that’s a good thing. The movies may have the coffee lackey end up as the office big shot but I know that in reality it’s the interns like me with a few quality real world experiences under their belts who get the corner office.