“Adventures on the Bluff” is back from the Thanksgiving holiday and hope you enjoyed your time away with family and friends. I know I did. Thanksgiving is highly underrated as a holiday. I know it gets overshadowed with Christmas being so close but it’s arguably my favorite. I might not have to eat until Christmas considering the number of 5,000 calorie days I had.
Let’s take a break from the holiday talk for a little while to share the final part of our series on gaining experience as a student in the McAnulty College of Liberal Arts. Guest blogger, Annie Kaucic, talks about the importance of networking and putting your “brand” out there. We’re feeling inspired today so I hope to post two stories.
I’m Annie Kaucic, and I am a Junior, Public Relations and Psychology double major. I’ll be blogging today about my internship experience I’ve had as a student in the Liberal Arts.
Throughout this past year, I have been extremely fortunate to have found two internships. Last spring, I was a Social Media Intern for the local division of a faith-based organization, and currently I am a Marketing Intern at the Carnegie Science Center. Although they differ in many regards, each experience has been extremely valuable.
My internship last spring began out of a feeling of being behind. I transferred into Duquesne’s PR program the summer before my sophomore year and by the time I hit the spring semester I was worried I was late to the game. I had not explored any spring internship options and had not yet even started to think about the summer. Looking back, my concerns were probably premature, but they nevertheless motivated me to find something – anything, really – that could give my resume a boost.
I came up with the idea of asking the leader of the youth group I attended if I could start a Twitter feed in hopes of increasing our student-base. The leader loved my idea, but surprised me by taking it one step further: He asked me if I would be interested in doing a semester-long Social Media internship. I was thrilled at the prospect and accepted the position on the spot. Had I not asked, I never would have known my little youth group could offer me such an opportunity.
My internship with the youth group provided me with an excellent foundational skill set I can continue to develop as I progress in my career. Most internships nowadays offer real responsibilities to their interns; your days will most likely not be filled with coffee runs, but you do have to be prepared for the occasional menial task because it can be your performance on these assignments that open the doors for larger responsibilities.
The process of finding my internship with the Carnegie Science Center was much longer and a lot more difficult than my first one, but the opportunities afforded to me have been equally as beneficial. I started my search for a fall internship early in the summer and spent many hours searching online for PR internships available in Pittsburgh. While the task became tiresome at times, it’s one of the best ways I have found to learn about companies and the vast amount of opportunities that exist. And these searches can also be an excellent way for you to start thinking about future job possibilities; the whole process opens your eyes to the various positions that exist in your field so when you have to start actually applying for jobs you’re already one step ahead of the game.
As I found companies I was interested in, I sent in my applications. I also quickly realized that you can’t hesitate to make contact with the companies you are exploring: If a company excites you, but you can’t find any information about their internship program, find a name and send them an email; you may not always get a response, but it’s always better to at least try. And do the same if you have questions about the application or the actual internship itself. The Science Center was more than helpful in answering my questions to make sure I had all of the pieces of the application submitted correctly. The companies you intern for want to see you succeed so don’t be afraid to ask for help…just make sure you don’t become annoying with the number of times you contact them. You always have to remember that these are professionals who have their own careers to worry about, as well, so don’t freak out if you don’t immediately receive a response.
Once I applied, it was just a matter of waiting to hear back from the companies to see if I made it to the next step – the interview. I interviewed for two different internships; one was conducted over the phone and the other was done in person. I don’t know of anyone who is comfortable doing an interview, so it’s normal to feel nervous, but don’t let the nerves get the best of you. Before you have the interview, prepare yourself for questions that are likely to be asked. Also think back to any previous interviews you’ve had and try to remember some of the questions you were asked during them. Then think of the main points you would want to cover if those types of question were asked during your upcoming interview. And don’t be afraid to talk about yourself. The interview is your time to market yourself and you want to make sure that when you walk out the door, that company is going to remember you and the skills you can bring to the table to make their organization better.
Internships are excellent opportunities to get your foot in the door and to ensure that you are a good fit for your intended career path. With that being said, however, they are not always easy. I have completed both of my internships with full course loads and speak from experience that work often piles up and it will sometimes feel like you don’t have enough hours in the day to finish everything you need to. But that’s the other benefit of internships – the time management and prioritization skills you gain are invaluable; they will help you get through all of your daily activities while in school, and will even assist you during your career.
Thanks, Annie. Great advice about networking and interviewing!