The Value of an Internship
Being in college there is a lot of pressure to find internships to gain experience because the job market is so competitive. Internships are obviously great to boost your résumé and separate yourself from other college graduates. They are also a necessity these days when it comes to getting a job in the future because a lot of jobs require prior experience in their field. However, getting an internship can do a lot more for you than just give you class credit or a letter of recommendation. The most important part of gaining experience in your field of study is to see if you actually even like what you’ve chosen as a career path. If you have an internship that you love, then you’ve solidified your passion and can go forward confidently in your work. On the other hand, you could realize that your major was not what you thought it was and you can’t see yourself working in that field for the rest of your career. Both discoveries are equally important and you wouldn’t have figured it out without an internship!
This summer I decided it was time to search for an internship in my field of public relations because frankly I wasn’t quite sure what public relations fully entailed. I knew the textbook definition from my college classes. I knew a few principles and theories, but not how they applied to the real world of PR. Having been in college for two years I figured I must have some valuable knowledge under my belt, however nothing as valuable as real world experience. My goal was to take my academic knowledge and turn it into professional knowledge.
I heard about Youtech & Associates because the founder, Wilbur, went to my high school. They were hiring summer interns and I thought it’d be a great opportunity to work in a real agency. After the first day, I figured out that this was not simply the “go get the coffee” type of internship. This was the real deal. Wilbur threw me into projects so I could get hands-on experience working with clients.
One of my tasks as a public relations intern was to write press releases for Youtech and some of our clients. In my classes we learned how to write press releases, however they were always on stories my professor made up and he provided all the necessary information. One challenge I encountered working in the real world was that not all the important information was given to me, like how it was in my classes. I had to do research on our clients and decide what I found was most important and newsworthy. I also never understood exactly what to do with a press release once it was finished or how a press release was even beneficial. Boy, did I sure learn! It is vital for companies to send out press releases so word can get out about important events, products or services. I came to learn not all press releases get picked up because journalists are bombarded with hundreds everyday. However, it is worth it for the times a newspaper does feature your story.
I also learned the value of social media marketing and how important it is to gaining business. I had to create marketing campaigns on Facebook and Twitter to attract more followers and potential customers. Social media marketing is an important brand-building tool and helps a business connect with their customers.
Youtech never made me feel as if my title as an “intern” made me any less part of the Youtech Team. The experience in a real creative advertising agency was more than I could have learned in a classroom. Simply having a good education cannot substitute for real work experience. As excited as I am to go back to living the life of a student in the fall, it’s sad to see my time in the working world come to an end.