For me, “intern” was a scary word for awhile. It meant leaving the safety of case studies and mock assignments in the classroom and entering a professional environment where what you do can have a positive or negative impact that reaches beyond a simple letter grade. Regardless, I realized I would have to bite the bullet eventually, if for no other reason than that my program requires that I complete at least one internship to graduate. I was under the impression that my busy schedule would force me do it over the summer back home, but then my advisor approached me with an on-campus opportunity for the Spring 2017 semester.
After an application and interview process, I was named the Student Outreach Intern for the English and Communication Department at Nazareth. Among my formal responsibilities were developing promotional materials for the English and Communication programs, pitching, developing, and managing student outreach initiatives, and developing student-oriented content for the program’s social media accounts.
Over the course of the semester, I was able to work on multiple projects that allowed me to practice all the skills I’ve developed in my courses up to this point. The bulk of my work was creating promotional materials for various courses, events, and programs related to the department. This included creating brochures and info sheets that current and incoming students can reference to learn what the discipline of communications actually entails. I also developed and maintained a Facebook group for Communication majors and minors that serves as a connection between students and faculty outside of the classroom and a community for program questions and job/internship opportunity postings. My favorite assignment by far was planning a panel event for the department. Public relations is a growing area of our department that also happens to be my specialization, so we wanted to give other interested students a chance to learn more. I reached out to local public relations professionals and was able to get four of them to come to campus to talk about what they do and answer student questions about the profession. I’m proud of all the work I did over the course of the semester, but I was particularly excited that I pulled that event together since I had never planned anything like it before.
Overall, I think this was a perfect first internship experience for me. I was able to use all I’ve learned in a more practical and professional context, but still had a sense of familiarity and comfort in my work environment. My supervisor was really great about letting me work autonomously so I was able to schedule my internship hours and assignments around my other classes, obligations, and homework, which spared me a lot of stress. I was able to improve both my pitching and editing skills by presenting my work to her on a weekly basis and receiving constructive criticism to guide any adjustments I made between then and our next meeting. My written and visual persuasion skills also got much stronger, mostly because I was drawing from them for almost every project I took on. Now that I have a little experience under my belt, I’m really excited to get out into the Rochester community and complete more internships in the next two years! This semester, I’m working in an advertising agency right down the street from campus.
You might be wondering how this is relevant, but the fact is that while you may have to be a junior to get school credit for your internship, you can try and get one at any time! I definitely wish I hadn’t been so hesitant to seek out these types of experiences because there really is no better way to learn and figure out what you like and what you don’t. If an opportunity arises to get real world experience, take advantage of it! Academics at Nazareth are very strong but you can only do just so much in the classroom so it never hurts to get out there, even if it seems a little early or if your “out there” ends up being the hallway that you’re in everyday anyway.