Published on October 30, 2019, at 4:30 p.m.
by Ashby Brown.
Whether you find yourself in the heart of the South, the sunny state of California, along the East Coast or somewhere in between, there is no limit to the number of internships available to college students. Having trouble finding inspiration for this coming summer? Check out the profiles below to learn new internship paths for public relations students.
Abby Goldstein, a senior majoring in international relations and biological anthropology at the University of Pennsylvania, interned at New York Life Investments this summer. As a product marketing intern in New York City, she mainly worked on competitor analyses and assisted in the marketing of the company’s ETF — equity, municipal and general investment funds. Before this internship, Goldstein was unsure about her future career path.
“New York Life offers general corporate internships, and I thought it was a good way to start to explore the corporate world,” stated Goldstein.
As a special perk this summer, Goldstein was able to work closely with a team of marketing interns on a special project for the chief marketing officer of New York Life Investments. “It was great to have a project to work on as a group and have that relationship with the CMO,” said Goldstein.
Goldstein learned a lot of new skills at her internship this summer, but what she valued most was teamwork. “As a pretty serious liberal-arts student, I tend to do a lot of research, which is not necessarily teamwork,” she said. Goldstein mentioned that learning to work on a team gave her the opportunity to think more deeply about what she wants to do after college. This experience “helped to set the scene” for what jobs she will look for in the future.
There was much more to New York than New York Life Investments. “Being an intern in New York is just something that is so fun. There are so many opportunities for interns in New York,” she said. From the restaurants and the networking to the culture in the city, New York didn’t disappoint.
Her biggest internship advice is to network with people and utilize LinkedIn. “It’s really hard to find an internship because these companies are making a 10-week investment in you,” she advises. “Cast a wide net and talk to recent graduates from your university.”
Brooke Willet is a senior studying public relations at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. While it may be customary to do a summer internship, Willet is completing a remote internship during her fall semester this year. Currently working as a publicity intern at Choice Media and Communication in Franklin, Tennessee, Willet writes media alerts, compiles top news and updates status reports, among other tasks to help with the publicity of authors and lifestyle influencers.
Willet came across Choice’s internship by searching for what she was passionate about — her favorite authors. “I am a big fan of Jordan Lee Dooley and Bob Goff. I basically just Googled ‘Jordan Lee Dooley publicity’ because they seemed like they were doing a good job,” she said. She continued to search for her favorite authors’ publicity firms, and Choice’s name continued to pop up. After a lot of Googling and investigating, Willet applied for an internship this past summer, and she eventually had an interview with Heather Adams, the founder and CEO.
Working three days per week, Willet loves the flexibility that she has with her internship. “My internship is remote, so I do everything from a coffee shop in Knoxville,” she said.
One of her favorite tasks is writing media alerts for book tours. Most recently, she pitched a media alert to The Ellen DeGeneres Show and Good Morning America. She improved her writing skills by learning how to cater to different audiences. Since working here, Willet has more clarity on “what a press release looks like versus a media alert, how these are formatted and what voice to use.”
Having an internship during the school year is more beneficial than Willet first thought it would be. “I think that having an internship while doing school is beneficial to me because it keeps my mind fresh with what I need to be doing,” she said. “I really like going into my internship and gaining real-world work experience. Then I can go into my classes on Tuesday and Thursday and learn about how I can improve what I’m already doing.”
When looking for an internship, Willet suggests thinking deeply about what you are passionate about. When you know your passions, you can network within that field to hear about certain opportunities. “You have no idea who knows who,” Willet said. “You never know who will have the same passions as you. If you’re putting your best foot forward and putting in hard, good work, then someone will recognize that.”
Emily Edwards, a senior at High Point University in North Carolina, is majoring in strategic communications with a double minor in marketing and sales. This summer, she worked with Phase 3 Marketing and Communications in Charlotte, North Carolina, where she was a marketing intern.
During her sophomore year of college, Edwards created a “hit list” of companies with internships that piqued her interest. Two summers later, she reached out to a few agencies off that list, and, in the end, accepted an offer from Phase 3’s Charlotte office.
The most exciting part of her internship was developing her skill set. “I am a very curious and eager learner, so whenever it came to dabbling in something out of my wheelhouse, like dealing with a new program, I got to learn a lot,” Edwards said. During the summer, she got to create a sitemap for one of her clients, a task that she had never tackled before.
Edwards learned a lot of technical skills at Phase 3, but she also learned about herself. “I think the biggest affirmation that I learned was that you don’t have to be a cookie-cutter business person to go into an industry. You want to differentiate yourself,” she mentioned. “I always had this preconceived notion that having a job would be boring, but the truth is that you just have to find what’s good for you.”
Edwards has advice for everyone searching for internships right now. She wants people to focus on their interests, not on their limitations. “Don’t be intimidated by the qualifications. During your interview, they may find you to be a perfect fit, and make an exception … which would be the outcome of you being proactive and believing in yourself,” she said. “If you are able to let go of your own preconceived feelings that are holding you back, you should just go for it. Now is the time.”
Hailing from The University of Alabama, Max Peterson is a senior studying public relations. This summer, Peterson worked at WarnerMedia in Burbank, California, for TBS, TNT and HBO Max in the publicity department.
Peterson focused his internship hunt by researching entertainment opportunities in Los Angeles, California. While he originally applied to TBS, he ended up with TNT, WarnerMedia and HBO Max “due to the changes the company was undergoing at the time.”
His summer internship in LA was nothing short of exciting, he said. “During my first week on the job, I was able to attend the AFI Lifetime Achievement Awards for Denzel Washington at the Dolby Theatre, where I met some of my role models and heroes I had seen before only on the Big Screen,” Peterson explained. “My summer was filled with sporadic press events covering everything from award shows to big news in terms of our television shows and programming.”
Between all the stardom and event preparation, Peterson had some time to reflect on his internship, even if it was for five minutes after his daily media review. “The scope of your job will not always be listed in its description,” he noted. “I had so many new tasks, duties and assignments given to me that were outside of my comfort zone, but accepting these and the feedback that comes with completing them is crucial to my development as a professional.”
For readers looking for internships now, Peterson advises to search for a company or a city that interests them, then start broad. For example, Peterson started broad by deciding where he wanted to be in the country, then he began researching studios and companies within the city. “I promise there will be housing options; don’t let that deter you from looking at certain places,” Peterson said.
Peterson shared one last piece of advice: “People in these companies want someone who is excited, who is thankful for the opportunity, and who is ready to work. Let it show in your communication with them.”
From these four different experiences, we can see that the public relations field can extend to nearly any skill set. PR practitioners can find their niche in the form of publicity, classic press releases, site maps or even through investment funds. What is it that all four of these students have in common? They all know the hunt for an internship may be arduous, but the hard work invested is worth it in the end.