What’s With All the Nerves? PR + Graphic Design Internship First Day – Before, During, and After

What It’s All About:
Learning that Public Relations and Graphic Design go hand in hand was something I had to sit with for a while. As someone who had no clue what they wanted to do until the last month of their junior year, it was a lot more daunting than my other impulse interest. Graphic Design was something I could sit with overnight. If I was obsessed with an idea enough I could make it a reality quickly. I once made three different posters for a Drag bingo event at Arcadia University in 30 minutes after getting tipsy at a Harry Potter-themed bar in Philly. And the people who I was designing for LOVED it. My point is that public relations was this whole other beast that I had no idea how to tackle. I still have no idea about it. But I knew I needed to, which is why I applied for the internship I did.

The Internship:
The internship I applied for was one with Salus University’s Department of Communications. I have no clue what it is I am doing for them but I know it has something to do with digital marketing. I have a little experience with that, as I’ve taken classes that have breached that topic one way or another, however, I feel like there are so many terms that could mean virtually the same thing. And that may seem offensive to those who know they aren’t the same thing, But to me, It feels like I get a word bank and these terms are described as the questions and I get them confused on the test and fail. It’s dramatic, I know but I believe this anxiety will plague me until I take my first steps into the building of this internship. Until someone can tell me that I am right where I need to be, I won’t believe it’s the right path for me. And I feel like that’s the issue with a lot of folks in my position. The first mountain to hike is even getting an internship and the second mountain is finding one that feels right.

The Night Before:
As the hands on the clock approach my bedtime for my first day, I sit and wonder what I need to prepare for this internship. I can’t say I am completely lost. I emailed the person who hired me and she told me I don’t need anything. Which is equally as comforting as it is blinding. I am going in semi-blind. I know what the job entails but does it entail business casual attire? Does it entail a lunch break? Does it entail getting my car towed because I don’t have the parking pass yet? It’s these little things that would seem silly to ask an employer but questions new employees have nonetheless. I think that’s how I know I’m in the right place. I’m not nervous about the work at all. Because I know I can get it done. I know I can complete work I am proud of.

The Morning of:
Because I planned out my semester so I wouldn’t have to wake up for anything, I also had the luxury of choosing when I wanted to have my internship. So of course, I chose to go in at 12:00 and leave at 3:00. I felt like this was a happy medium and also I do my best work when I have time to warm up as a human.
I Still Wasn’t Nervous About The Job. It was starting to set in that I had one and I had to be professional. But it wasn’t something that would scare me away from it all. My supervisor emailed me her number so that I had someone to walk me through the building which was so nice. I remember driving to Starbucks at 4:40 in the morning for my first shift and not even knowing where the back door was so, this was a nice upgrade.

Sitting in The Chair:
Similarly to syllabus week, it was a whole bunch of information thrown at me. Between new program names and new tricks on old programs, it was a lot to carry. But soon it was a piece of cake. I understood most of what I was doing and the things I didn’t I was able to figure out. It was a very awesome experience going into a job that I knew generally what I was meant to complete.

I’m super excited about this internship and what it could teach me in my field. As someone who didn’t know they wanted to do PR and still doesn’t know if they want to do PR, this first day was kind of perfect. I know this won’t be the case for all internships and interests. I was talking to my supervisor about this particular task field and she was saying how it’s easier to find things you don’t want to do as opposed to things you want to do. And I couldn’t agree more. I feel like my whole college career was just going through the motions of things I didn’t want to do. And now that I am here it feels weird to be nervous about the things I was nervous about. But yet it all makes sense.

My Experience as a Public Relations Intern and the Advice I’d Give

As a Communication major at Arcadia, we are required to complete at least one semester with an internship. I was lucky enough to secure a position with VMS Communications, a small public relations firm based in Houston. I was hired as an assistant and my general tasks were to work closely with the CEO and complete assignments that ranged from drafting press releases to creating excel contact sheets.

I had no previous experience in the field so having this job provided some much needed hands on learning. My goal of this post is to highlight the advice I wish someone had given to me before starting.

#3 Honing Organization Skills

(Example of where my Internship folder is located on my computer and how specific the subfolders are)

I’m not a particularly unorganized person, but as far as files and images go on my computer it can be a no man’s land. However, at any moment your boss can ask to reference a previous draft of an assignment you’ve worked on. It would be expected for you to have some record of it.

Learning how to save multiple copies of files and having a detailed organization system that is labeled and up to date on your devices is important. It is three years later, and I am still referencing the work I did when I was at my internship. This would not be as easily accessible if not for the system I created.

#2 Become Familiar with Excel (and other programs)

I rarely, if ever, have had to use Excel or Google Spreadsheet during my time as a student. So, when my first assignment was to create a celebrity contact list that had to be created in Excel, I was flustered.  I spent days on a task that shouldn’t have taken longer than a few hours.

My advice: Ask your superior before starting what programs are commonly used with the job and use the time before starting or in between projects to familiarize yourself with it. It will save you a lot of time.

#1 Don’t Be Afraid to Be Honest

With your first internship or job there is usually an immense pressure to be perfect. But the company you work for knows they hired an intern and that you do not know everything. In my experience, it is better to ask for help and be honest about not being sure how to complete a project than messing up and having to explain it afterwards. A good boss or superior will use it as a teaching lesson and it’ll improve your skillset.

Overall, my experience as an assistant was one that I can look back fondly on. However, like with any job there are always ups and downs. If I knew these few tips going into the position it would have certainly eased some of those anxieties.

Agency Life in Public Relations

During my last semester at Arcadia, I have been interning at Vault Communications, a
Public Relations Agency in Plymouth Meeting. After experiencing various internships, I have
noticed the differences in agency work versus work for one brand. In an agency, you work with
many different clients, all with different goals and tasks. The diversity of this work can be quite
refreshing and allow one to explore different areas of public relations. It can also provide
opportunities to learn more about the individual needs for specific clients.

Since starting in September, I have worked on accounts such as Takis, Subaru, Party
City, Hologic, Live! Casino & Hotel Philadelphia, and many more. All of these accounts have
different work and goals set for them. For example, Takis partnered with Teracycle, (a recycling
company), and told their fans to recycle their products for a chance to win merchandise. At
Vault, we worked to put together the boxes with different Takis products inside and send them
out to the winners. This helps Takis and Teracycle benefit from each other and create more
marketing opportunities. Another example of work I have done is writing up event descriptions
for Live! Casino & Hotel Philadelphia. I have been given different events to write out
descriptions for. Once approved, I go down a list of outlets on an excel sheet and submit the
events to these websites. This promotes events hosted by or at Live! and makes them more
popular and seen by others in the area.

Vault Communications has taught me a lot, especially when it comes to media
monitoring and media lists. I have worked on many lists using services such as Critical Mention
and Cision. These platforms allow us to find media outlets, articles, influencers, and more. For
Party City, I have been working on monitoring the media for any mentions they may have. On
Critical Mention, there are specific key words programmed to show any and all mentions of
those words with Party City. Since we are getting close to Halloween, we look for things such as
“Party City, Halloween” and “Party City, Balloon” etc. Any important media clips or articles are
defined every day, put into an excel sheet, and sent out to the Party City account team every

Looking at Cision, lately I have been compiling a list of media contacts for Harsco
Environmental. These lists consist of outlets that talk about construction, steel, metal,
agriculture, building supplies, environmentally friendly supplies and more. This list is essential
for finding key outlets that Harsco can promote their business to for more publicity. After
defining all the outlets, I will be pulling editorial calendars to show opportunities for Harsco to
pitch their ideas. This makes it easier to understand what outlets fits and which do not for future
use. These lists are constantly growing and changing, and many other accounts have this need as

Overall, I have learned a lot in my short time at Vault. It has officially been one month
since I started, and I have worked on so many different things. Agency life can be fast paced and
change every single day. You never can truly know what the workday will look like, but that’s
what makes it so much fun. I can’t wait to see what other tasks I will complete at Vault and decide of agency work is right for me.

How I Got Into PR as an Acting Major

When I first started my time at Arcadia University, I never thought I’d be involved with the Public Relations programs, let alone be running a Marketing and Public Relations student team for the Theatre department. Back in 2019, when I initiated my academic path as a Knight, I was an Acting major pursuing a Bachelor of Fine Arts. And although performing is my passion, I was a freshman eager to learn about as many subjects as possible. So I did as much as I could. I signed up for as many clubs as I could fit into my schedule, made plans for studying abroad, and took a lot of classes outside my major. I was so enthusiastic about being in college that I didn’t care about whether or not I would be exhausted. So, applying my recently gained Improv knowledge, I’d say “yes, and…” to as many opportunities I could. From Scene Study and Latin American Art History to coding my own website and learning about event management. My mom used to tell me that as a child, I was a little bit too curious. I would always ask her too many questions about everything as I was excited about understanding the world around me. I guess my college experience proved that story to be true. I was exploring as many areas as Arcadia could offer.  

It was during one of these ventures that I found a new area of interest: Public Relations. After a period of taking PR classes, I figured it was something I wanted to do professionally. But the only issue was figuring out how to implement that in my academic plan. It wasn’t easy to be a double major as I was already pursuing a B.F.A. in Acting. After considering many options, I was able to create an individualized major in Public Relation and Acting. During this process of arranging my academic path, I found the internship I work at today.  

Professor Kathryn Petersen was my Theatre designated academic advisor, so she has been watching me grow as a student ever since my first day at Arcadia. As Professor Petersen observed me balance my interest in PR and Theatre, she also noticed the needs the Theatre program had regarding Public Relations and Marketing. As I signed up for classes for my senior year, one of the requirements was an internship. It was then that the opportunity presented itself. Professor Petersen asked me to do something the Theatre department had never done before: A team of students focused on promoting our program through Marketing and PR.  

Hence, here I am, running a Marketing and Public Relations team of students for the Theatre department. And as much as the fact that we’re pioneering this team can be scary, it’s just as thrilling. Again, because we’re pioneering this group, there are a lot of introductory steps we need to take. Even though the internship only truly started in the Fall semester, during the summer prior to it, I was able to have multiple meetings with my supervisor, Kathryn Petersen. Our goal for these meetings was to understand what our team needed to do, what our resources were, and how we could achieve our goals.  

During these sessions, we were able to set some primary details. Professor Petersen already had an idea of what the Theatre needs were, so we started with that. A lot of Arcadia students aren’t aware of our program, nor of what it has to offer. Taking a moment to promote it a little bit here, the work that the department does is truthfully incredible: Every semester we present two plays for which any Arcadia student can audition for, therefore participate in. And for those productions, the department hires professional theatre artists to be involved with. That way, the students can get a full sense of what is like to be in a show for a Theatre company.  

In order to get a rough idea of what we’re dealing with, during one of the first weeks of classes, my team and I created a survey to be sent out to Arcadia’s students. In this, we included questions to comprehend the basic information about the students responding (such as year and major), and questions related to the Theatre program (if they’re familiar with the department, if they know things such as non-theatre majors can audition, tickets are pay what you can and so on). As a conclusion of this survey, we confirmed that Arcadia’s community wasn’t largely aware of our Theatre and its opportunities.   

Thus, our goal for the semester was to raise awareness of our Theatre program on campus. Once that was set, we were able to collectively form an action plan. One of the exciting aspects of this group is that we have students from both departments of Media and Communication and Theatre. Our unit is formed by a Marketing and PR Team Supervisor -me-, Advanced Social Media Supervisor, Social Media Assistant, Video Content Creator, Video Content Assistant, and Marketing Assistants. In total, we have nine members collectively working and brainstorming ideas on how to achieve our goal.  

For me, one of the highlights of this internship was our first meeting. It took place during the Labor Day weekend, and I remember how nervous I was to run a whole meeting by myself for the first time. Because of that, I spent the weekend prior to the meeting studying all my notes from my previous PR classes. And although stressing over this was a lot, once it was time to host the meeting, I felt prepared and confident about it. Along with my team, we were able to create an action plan for the semester, focusing mainly on Social Media and advertisements around  campus. We planned to create different content for each Social Media platform, as each has a distinct reached audience. For example, we found out that our Instagram followers are mainly formed by students, therefore the content there is focused on that audience. On the other hand, Facebook reaches an older audience, so the content produced for these two platforms needs to be approached differently.  

Today, after having hosted a couple of group meetings and having more experience in running the Marketing and Public Relations team, I feel extremely proud of the work I’ve done so far. We’ve been following the steps of our action plan and soon is the Opening Night of our first production, Into the Woods directed by Kevin Glaccum. And even as I look back at my freshman year schedule and wonder how did I ever take that many classes, I wouldn’t do anything differently. Exploring different areas of interest allowed me to find how to conciliate the two things I want to do professionally: Public Relations and Acting.  

Day in The Life of a Flyers Intern

I have had the pleasure of being a public relations intern with the Philadelphia Flyers for the 2021-2022 season. After many, many games we have it down to a system and all know what we need to be doing. On a game day we arrive a few hours before the start of the game. For a 7 pm puck drop, we arrive to Wells Fargo Center at 2 pm. Once I arrive, I make my way up to the press box. We start by doing a sweep of the press box; check to see if all the chairs are in the right spots, make sure all the broadcasting booths are unlocked, check for any papers from the last game and throw them away, etc. After that sweep, we start the process of printing all of our packets. We print games notes, clips, recent stats for both teams and lineups. Once these are all printed, they get delivered to our executive’s suite, both the home and away locker rooms, broadcasting booths and visiting team management. Throughout pregame we check in on press meal and credentials. We always have one of us interns at both of these spots leading up to the game. Press meal is available for any media, team staff, NHL scouts, etc. Credentials is located at the employee entrance and is a busy spot. All media, press, NHL scouts and sponsors all have to stop buy and check-in to get their single game credential. Throughout this time, we will help out with random things for the public relations department too! Once warmups start we make our way back up to the press box and make sure all the media/press are in the right seat, check if anyone needs anything, etc. We watch the game from the press box and get to watch the majority of it. When the clock hits 1 minute in the first and second period we grab the official stats sheet from the NHL crew and then make copies to deliver to all those same spots from earlier. When the clock hits 10 minutes in the third period, we make our way downstairs to help prep for the post-game interviews. We sit through all of the interviews and record them on our phones. After all the interviews are complete, we start the process of transcribing all of them. These transcriptions get used for our official website and are sent to media. Once that is complete, it is usually around 10:30-11 pm by the time we make our way out. It is so wild to think that we are down to just one more game this season! I am so thankful for the opportunity I have had this season with the Philadelphia Flyers and am hoping to be back next season.

My Experience with a Virtual PR Internship

This semester I am interning at the public relations firm VMS Communications. The purpose of this blog post is to highlight what I have learned so far and how my education at Arcadia has aided me.

VMS Communications is a Houston-based public relations firm run by Michelle Stephenson. My role in this internship is as her assistant where I aid her with clients and assist with projects. The firm is currently going through a rebrand where she wants to become more focused on catering to black-owned and women-owned businesses. Due to her being based in Houston my internship has been entirely online. I prefer this method of work because it lessens (in my opinion) the stress of having to physically be present.

As far as the actual work I’ve done so far with her company, it has varied in importance and quantity depending on the client. Throughout the semester I have aided Michelle in drafting press releases, curating a list of celebrities to pitch to, researching possible clients, and more. The format of our relationship typically goes that Michelle will email my assignment for the week (or two weeks), and then when I finish I submit it to her for review, she gives me notes, and then another assignment follows within the next few days. I love this style of work because the weekly/biweekly assignments never feel too rushed or overwhelming.

An unexpectedly helpful thing that has occurred, is that I have been able to utilize some of the assignments I have had over the course of my Communications classes to use in this professional setting. I took the PR courses ‘Crisis Communication’ and ‘Intro to Public Relations’ last semester and they have been extremely useful in working on real-life assignments with my internship. For example, last semester we were tasked in creating fake press releases but in the exact format that would be expected of us if they were real. I’ve been able to take that past assignment and use the formatting to help curate a press release that I drafted for Michelle. She was impressed my knowledge of how to do so, and the accuracy in formatting.

 It feels good to know that what I am learning at Arcadia will be able to help once I start a career in the communications field.

How Internships Can Help You Navigate Your Future

Internships are a mandatory part of many college curriculum, and for good reason. Internships are a students opportunity to figure out what they like or dislike, what they’re good at or not-so-good at, what the professional workplace is like, how to build professional relationships, how to be a part of an organizational culture; the list of benefits goes on and on. For me, my internships did all of these things, the most important being that my first internship wasn’t what I thought it was going to be; it taught me a lot about myself, what I like, and how to navigate my future.

In September of 2019, I was fortunate enough to be accepted for an internship at goPuff, a Philadelphia-based company that delivers essentials like snacks, drinks, school supplies, pet food, and more, in less than an hour in over 170 locations across the country. My position was in the marketing department, in a sub-department for brand ambassador relations. My primary interest for a career at this point was marketing communications, but this internship showed me that I wanted to go in a different direction. For the first few weeks I really enjoyed my work, but after about a month, I realized I was completing the same three tasks every day. In addition to that, the three tasks I was completing were all data input and analysis, something I was not interested in and didn’t enjoy. These repetitive tasks really got to me over time, and by the end of October, I wasn’t excited to go to work anymore. I didn’t feel like I was learning anything, and I didn’t feel that I could take this experience and apply it to what I was learning at school. This was extremely disheartening for multiple reasons: I really thought marketing communications is what I wanted to do, everyone I had worked with and met at goPuff were awesome, I thought what everyone at goPuff was doing was cool and I wanted to support that, and I really didn’t want to leave.

I had grown quite fond of goPuff, and even though it was my first professional workplace situation, it felt like the absolute coolest place on the planet to work. Though I wasn’t enjoying my work, I really wanted to make things work at goPuff. I was extremely fortunate that, after my semester and internship in the marketing department had concluded, I was able to transfer and start a new internship in goPuff’s communications department. My semester working in the communications department is the best I’ve had. The things I was learning in school were meshing with the work I was doing in my internship, and I finally felt that the internship was enhancing the education I was getting at Arcadia. Along with the educational benefits, I really enjoyed all the work I was doing; not once through the semester did I dread a day of work. Every day was different, and I finally felt like I had found my place.

The point of this blog is to show you, the reader, that internships are not the end-all-be-all, internships are the opportunity for you to try something out and see if you like or not. In my case, I tried something out, decided it wasn’t for me, tried something new, and ended up falling in love with it. Internships help you understand what you want to pursue when the time comes for you to get a permanent job. My internship in the marketing department showed me what I didn’t want to do down the line, whilst my internship in the communications department showed me what I would like to do down the line. My advice: get as many internships as you can; try as many things as you can. If you find a place that you love, see if you can try something new there, while maintaining the bridges you built the first time around. Internships are extremely valuable and can seriously help you navigate your future.

The PRSSA: A Useful Tool to Public Relations Students

Transitioning from college to career can be a daunting journey. Many students are unaware of what opportunities are out there for them and are unsure of how to get there. One resource that has proven to be a helpful tool in this journey is the PRSSA. It’s resources like these that aid in college education, to advance our capabilities beyond the classroom. Mentioned below are just a few of the powerful assets that I have found by joining the PRSSA.

Find Internships and Jobs

One useful tool that can directly benefit your future in Public Relations is obtaining an internship or straight-up job experience. The PRSSA has a search engine solely catering to its members, where employers will be hiring. These applications are often less competitive than other popular search engines, and will have you working with people in the organization. This exclusivity can lead to better experiences, with stronger learning outcomes.

Find Scholarships

Paying for that education and all those great experiences is not easy, and PRSSA knows that. Being a member opens the doors for countless amounts of scholarships that are easy to apply for, and fit a range of different qualifications and needs. These are all found on their website, and are only available to members, which makes them less competitive than usual.

Join Events and Meet New People

What better way to kickstart your career than getting to meet people that are already doing what you’re inspiring to do? Joining in on the copious amounts of events that the PRSSA holds, opens you up to networking with career professionals, and learning from their advice. Such a network system is truly one of the greatest aspects of being a member. It would not be as possible to obtain such enhancing experiences, without being part of an organization that promotes interaction between members. Not only is it advancing your network with people already in the field, but also making connections with other students, which are a great support system in college to grow with.

In Conclusion

This is just my perspective as a student, having been part of a newer chapter of the organization and getting to experience all of the benefits. Having some sort of outlet to advance your college experiences into a career is such a smart step that I’m glad I took. There are so many resources for students to have on hand, through the PRSSA.

Your First Internship

As you venture through your undergrad years in communications and public relations, you are exposed to so much fascinating and helpful material that will academically enrich you. By the end of your junior year, you will have a greater understanding of public relations. By this time, you will be ready for your first internship. This is an exciting time for each student, as it gives them a sneak peek into working in the PR industry. You will meet people in the industry, you will be doing work that is helpful to the company and yourself, and you are building up your resume. Internships are a lot of fun, if you put in a great work ethic and have a great attitude. You are most certainly going to need an internship or two, so it is important to seek out what interests you and what will benefit you as a you near the real world.

My first internship was a marketing and social media internship at a facilities management company called STAR Building Services. I never envisioned myself working for this type of company, but looking back, I am so happy I accepted the offer. I was able to learn more about marketing and PR, work with fantastic people, and learn about an industry that I never would have imagined of. I was assigned to create LinkedIn posts for the company, along with other office tasks. I wanted to learn as much as possible during my time at STAR, and I demonstrated my eagerness to learn. This allowed my boss and coworkers to view me as a reliable person and one who is fit for the job. Image is everything, and when you show up to work everyday ready to learn and be productive, you will open up many doors to your future. I learned in this internship that it is not always about where you work, it’s the experience you’re gaining as an intern.

Public relations offers so many opportunities for internships in the New Jersey and Philadelphia area. You can work for small or large companies, doing an array of work. I enjoyed learning more about marketing and social media, and it has greatly elevated my experience and readiness for a career in the PR industry. Other areas within PR are branding, promotion, event planning, or even one of my specialty’s, social media. Look for internships that have work and tasks that interest you, don’t always fixate on what the company does. I never knew a small facilities management company could teach me so much, and I was pleasantly surprised. Keep an open mind for your first internship because it is your first step into the real world, and it is one exciting time for students to partake in!

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