Polishing Skills, Gaining Industry Knowledge and Managing Priorities: Insight from Choice Interns
As University of Georgia (go Dawgs!) students and the spring 2018 interns for Choice Media & Communications, we’ve each learned so much about managing priorities, time and responsibilities. We are excited to share some insight into our jobs as interns, why we think internships are so important and some tips and tricks of how to stay organized in the hectic life of a college student. But first, a bit about us…
Schuyler Pringle: Hi! I’m Schuyler Pringle, a senior public relations major from Charlotte, NC. In addition to my degree, I have also completed a Music Business Certificate as well as a Personal and Organizational Leadership Certificate.
Ashley Lollar: Hey y’all! My name is Ashley Lollar and I am a junior public relations major from Columbus, GA. I am currently completing a Music Business Certificate at the University of Georgia.
The importance of internships
AL: Being a student in the world we live in today can be a little nerve-wracking. There is so much pressure to find what your interests are at the age of 18 and pursue them for the rest of your life. Once you pick the area you want to pursue you have four years to learn everything you can about the field.
As a third-year public relations major, there is pressure to gain experience in my field outside of the classroom. They say that internships are the gateway to full-time employment. I hope they’re right! It is crucial to find an internship that pours into their interns and cares about their future.
Choice Media & Communications strives to do just that. Their interns are fully equipped when they leave the nest and my time at Choice Media & Communications has given me valuable insights to what life after college looks like.
SP: I approach internships as experiences that I can add to my career toolbox. Of course, I have experience in writing and communications through my degree, but internships gave me a taste of life after college as well as putting my academic skills to the real test. I have LOVED working for Choice because they give me real assignments and I know that my work is adding to the value of this agency.
Another huge aspect that I love about internships is the ability to learn and to fail. Through internships, you are acquiring new and different skills in order to help highlight the subjects you’ve already learned through school. Internships allow you to put your skills to the test with room for error. Your boss isn’t expecting you to learn everything. Make sure to give 100% effort in all that you do, but also don’t be afraid to ask for help. I’ve learned that it is always better to ask for help and let your boss know that you don’t know everything rather than leading under the assumption that you know exactly what you are doing and instead completely let them down.
So, what do we do all day?
SP: Ha! This is my favorite question. No day is the same in the communications industry. You have to be flexible and adaptable in order to work in this field. One day I might be composing ideas for an Instagram takeover for a client and within the next hour I might be conducting competitive analysis research for a completely different client. I love bouncing around and getting my hands into different tasks. That’s the beauty of an agency–you aren’t working on the same task or client for a long period of time.
So far through this internship, I have created various press materials (press releases, pitching, etc.) as well as completed brand audits and competitive analyses. A HUGE part of my job is research. What I have learned is that while research from the outset is perceived as mundane and time-consuming, my results and takeaways from this research affects our clients and their brands in an impactful way.
AL: I completely agree with Schuyler. Just as any other job where you have multiple projects and responsibilities, no day in the life of a public relations intern looks the same. It’s such a stereotypical, but true, phrase. In my role at Choice I am working with whichever clients need my help. Choice does a great job of listening to what their interns are interested in and they allow them to work on clients that they believe in and could add value to their campaigns.
In the three short months since joining Choice, I have composed editorial calendars, written media pitches and researched media outlets. It’s very important to get experience in multiple areas before you graduate so you know where you want to go when you enter the real world. Before this role I didn’t have any experience with half of these tasks but the women at Choice were there to hold my hand and give me valuable feedback that will allow me to produce better work in the future.
Are you a student searching for an internship or maybe just someone who wants to learn something new in your field? Find a company that is willing to let you fail and will help you get back up and try again. Find someone who is willing to be a mentor and help you grow. Choice gives you the tools and guidance to grow as a student and future public relations practitioner.
How to manage all the things.
SP: I’m not going to sugarcoat it and say that it’s easy to balance everything. I’m a student, an intern, a friend, a daughter, a senior in college wanting to savor every moment while trying to focus on plans post-graduation.
In order for me to find balance and peace, I have had to make myself slow down and take it day by day. Some days, I don’t have time to sit on my sectional and chat with my girls – I have work, school, a meeting or an interview. And then other days, I take a breath and watch hours of the Real Housewives while enjoying a La Croix. You need to listen to yourself and how you are feeling in the moment. If you are constantly stretching yourself too thin or stressing out about being present at everything and with everyone, you are going to burn out. Take a breath, focus on what is on the day’s agenda and plan accordingly from there.
AL: Yes…life as a student can be chaotic. There are always classes to go to, meetings to attend, friends to entertain and the future to consider. I am currently a full-time student, a Choice intern, executive member of two different organizations and a friend. Every day is filled with responsibilities and standards that must be met. It can be difficult to manage my time and balance all of these responsibilities but I’ve found that the single most important tip for me has been to keep a detailed planner. By nature, I am a very organized person and I love planning. I make sure that I don’t forget any detail, no matter how small, by writing all of the things that need to get done in my planner by order of importance. The things that need to be done today go at the top of the planner and the not-so-important things get moved either to the bottom of the planner or to a different day. Once something gets done, check it off. It’s a very simple and archaic way to stay organized but there’s something satisfying about crossing something off a to-do list.
Another word to the wise: make time for free time! There’s always going to be something else to do but if you don’t allow yourself to breathe and do something fun every now and then, eventually you’ll crack. Take it day-by-day, keep an organized planner and make time for fun and you will find that balancing classes, clubs, internships, friends and anything else you may have on your plate is possible.
Whether you’re a student looking for an internship or you’ve graduated and have a full-time job, share your intern experiences with us! What do you look for in an internship? What is your best advice for interns?