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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.

Reflection

I remember registering for classes last year and being so excited to take the Arcadia offered practicum for Public Relations. It was recommended to me by my advisor, and teacher of the practicum, seeing as I am a Media and Communications major with a concentration in Public Relations. I had started to second guess my ability to be a PR professional and being given the chance to start the very first student run PR firm at Arcadia was exactly what I needed.  I was ecstatic to be able to experience what its like to work professionally in the Public Relations realm, before I started my internship. The weeks we spent still at school working hard on the Donate Life campaign was some of the most enjoyable and rewarding times I have ever had in class at Arcadia. Right before we left for spring vacation we began to plan and work on our projects to promote Donate Life.  Even with the COVID-19 crisis looming over our heads, we split up times and responsibilities for the exciting events we had planned. I was ready and excited to help run the events and activities we had planned for the campaign but unfortunately I never got to.

Once we started our spring break, the pandemic began to spread rapidly. Only halfway through the week of our spring break did we receive an email telling us the rest of the semester would be online only. While it was good to know how much our university cared about our health and safety, I was devastated to realize that meant the end to our Donate Life campaign. The few weeks I was able to spend with my 1853 Communications classmates were amazing and I am so sad that those few weeks were the only ones we would get. I enjoyed my short amount of time in this practicum so much that I registered for it again for this fall semester. I take pride in being one of the founding members of 1853 Communications and having the opportunity to create our name, website and goals. I am excited to spend next fall doing what we prepared to do this semester and I hope nothing gets in our way this time.

Crisis Comms: Think About It!

The COVID-19 pandemic has come on suddenly and unexpectedly, and there isn’t a company in the world that isn’t changing course in one way or another. This kind of out-of-left-field crisis is the kind of thing that crisis communicators specialize in, but not every organization properly values this kind of expertise. It’s not just organizations either – many professional and student communicators don’t have the experience or interest in the field of crisis management. Let me pitch you on why you should consider specializing in crisis communications.

Let’s just start with the facts. Not everyone is suited for crisis work. It’s high-pressure, high-risk work. If you get it all wrong, like say, Tony Hayward of British Petroleum (Links to an external site.), you risk turning a crisis into a series of crises that enrage shareholders and cost you your job. A level head and creative problem solving are non-negotiable aspects of the field. If you have trouble working under pressure or tend to get thrown off your game easily, it may not be the best idea to look for crisis work. 

On the other hand, if you’re at your best when your back is to the wall, then you might have a specialization on your hands. A good thing about crisis work is that it’s often not the only role of your job – day-to-day communications work will be most of the job, but being a part of the crisis management team not only makes your position more diverse, but it also makes you less replaceable. You get to have real, tangible problems to solve, you create your own job security (f you do it well!), and most of all, you get to prove your worth to the organization, which can be a real struggle to communicators at times. It may not be fun to work 24/7 during a major crisis, but it gives a purpose and direction to your role.

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!

How Will Travel Change?

COVID-19 has taken the world by storm. Classes have been canceled, jobs have been lost, and people are stuck staying at home. A lot of industries have been negatively impacted by the current situation, especially those deemed as a nonessential business. According to CNBC, the unemployment rate in the United States has reached over 30 million people (Cox). One industry that has been particularly impacted is the airline industry. Travel has come to a stop as a way to slow down the transmission of the novel coronavirus. With this illness being completely unknown, there is a lack of treatment. Experts are also unsure if people can get the disease more than once, and these uncertainties make returning to normalcy difficult as it is important to stay safe. It is essential for people to stay home to protect the immune-compromised populations and to prevent hospitals from becoming overwhelmed with patients. Business Insider reported that 64 global airlines had stopped flights (Pallini). Looking back at the SARS pandemic in 2003, one of the main ways the disease was spread was through air travel. Flying has connected the world in ways that seemed impossible, but it is dangerous for disease spread. 

As different states slowly begin to reopen with restrictions, so too are airlines. A huge concern is how airline operations will change to ensure the safety of travelers. On April 23, the New York Post reported a passenger’s experience on American Airlines, in which a flight was completely packed and many people were not wearing masks. This completely goes against the CDC recommendation of social distancing due to the close seating. Concerns were high for that passenger when an airline representative told the customer that “if American Airlines sells 150 seats, they will board 150 seats — it’s a business,” (Steinbuch). For the average consumer, it is hard to understand exactly what goes on with this disease as information is constantly being put out into the world. This information can be true, but there is misinformation that can fly off the rail. The unknown makes it more difficult for people to understand and take precautions for the situation the world is facing.

After the situation on that American Airlines flight occurred, changes have been made to ensure that social distancing measures will be practiced (Steinbuch). When the pandemic eases down and flights start to become more booked, there will still be concerns surrounding the safety of passengers. Many flights may become cheaper due to the fact that the majority of people are now unemployed (Cullen). Even with flight prices decreases, there still may be even greater caution for where people are traveling. There may be a limited number of flights that exist due to this pandemic and fewer people will most likely be allowed on flights until a vaccine is found (Cullen). 

Learning from the Philadelphia PR Community

Learning from the Philadelphia PR Community: Presentation from Brian Communications

On February 19th, 1853 Communications was lucky enough to have Ryan Wall and Layne Litsinger from Brian Communications in Philadelphia come to talk to us about working in public relations and establishing a public relations agency.  They gave us practical tips and shared stories about their own journey working in the public relations industry in Philadelphia.  They also explained how Brian Communications works with clients and some of their day-to-day tasks that help them stay current in order to better serve their clients.  We are excited to use all of the information they gave us to better serve our current and future clients.  The free pens were also really great!  Thank you Ryan and Layne!

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