Thoughts From a Public Relations Intern

I was asked to write an article for the newsletter of the PR firm where I am interning this summer, and I decided to post it on my blog as well. It's about why I chose KVBPR and what I have learned so far.  Here it is:

As a public relations student at The University of Tennessee, Knoxville, I am constantly told the importance of gaining internship experience before I graduate.  Most teachers suggest you have at least two to three internships during college in order to obtain a notable amount of experience needed to succeed as a professional.  My teachers have taught many important lessons I am reminded of each day at my internship, but they insist that the lessons learned at an internship are ones that can’t be taught in the classroom and are vital to one’s understanding of the field. 

When thinking about where I wanted to intern this summer, I knew I wanted to intern in my hometown of Nashville, preferably in a public relations firm.  Besides the bonus of being near friends and family, I thought Nashville’s bustling communications industry would interest me.  I love the city and am so proud of how much it has grown.  I knew I would feel fortunate and content to be in the heart of the city while interning.

I knew I wanted to intern at a public relations firm, because I felt that type of setting would allow me to gain experience working with a variety of clients and maximize my skill set.  The public relations field is so vast, and I have many interests.  I thought working in a firm would give me insight into which avenues I truly enjoyed and could pursue upon graduation. 

While researching public relations firms in Nashville, I came across KVBPR (Katcher Vaughn & Bailey Public Relations).  I thoroughly examined the firm’s websiteFacebook page and blog.  Each impressed me and gave me reasons to want to intern with them.  I first browsed the firm’s clients, and ones that particularly interested me were BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee, the Metropolitan Government of Nashville and the Metropolitan Nashville Arts Commission (Metro Arts).  I was fascinated while reading the client successes and seeing the lessons I had learned in class used in a real world setting.  It felt as if everything clicked, and I could tell this firm had a strong backbone in basic public relations principles, while using modern approaches.  The website has a picture and brief bio about each employee, and I enjoyed reading about their diverse backgrounds, talents and specialties.  It appeared that the firm worked hard and played hard.  The Facebook page included pictures from staff holiday and birthday parties, which made me believe that the office had a good rapport and enjoyed getting together to celebrate occasions.  The employees seemed to have a good sense of humor, and I believe it’s important to allow a little bit of laughter to help you make it through the day.  I could also tell the firm supported the Nashville community, particularly the arts in Nashville, which is something close to my heart.

With all of those wonderful realizations floating in my head, I immediately crafted my cover letter and tailored my resume and sent them to the intern coordinator, Melinda.  A few weeks later, Melinda and I had a Skype interview, which lasted about 30 minutes but felt much shorter, because it was a great conversation.  Of course, some typical interview questions were asked, but I actually felt like I was able to connect with Melinda on a more personal level.  I was able to talk about my interests and how those desires and KVBPR’s intern needs could align.  I loved hearing that Melinda’s background was in nonprofit business and social media, two outlets I am deeply interested in.  Melinda called me about a week later to offer me the internship, and I could not have been more thrilled. 

I was so nervous before the first day but felt so welcomed from the second I stepped into the office.  The office itself is very open and inviting, and I soon found the staff was the same way.  Melinda showed me to my office and introduced me to every employee, all of whom were friendly and expressed sentiments of welcoming me and excitement about having me on board.  Melinda showed me some office basics, and I spent the morning trying to navigate the computer, phone and new software programs.  I was so honored to be taken to lunch that day by one of the partners and a few other employees.  It was a good time to step outside of the office and get to know them a bit from the very beginning.

I have completed nine out of my thirteen weeks at KVBPR and have learned so many lessons, both professionally and personally. 

What I’ve learned about work: Confidently take initiative and do the best you can.  One of my biggest concerns coming into the internship was that I complete my tasks up to par.  I’m a people pleaser, Type A, perfectionist who just wanted to be an exemplary intern.  I was worried I didn’t have enough experience to meet the high standard of the firm and just hoped they didn’t think I was unfit.  When asked to complete an assignment I wasn’t entirely sure about, I found I just had to do my best and be ready to receive feedback.  I was so amazed that the feedback was praising me and giving slight suggestions about what I could improve!  All criticism has been constructive, stretched my thinking and taught me something that works a little better than what I was originally doing.

What I’ve learned about myself: I enjoy diversity.  I have been working on accounts for clients in a multitude of industries, including health care, senior living and legal.  I’ve been working on different tasks for these clients, including social media posts, press releases and media training.  It’s been refreshing to allow my brain to switch to these different tasks.  Due to my personality, I did not know I would enjoy bouncing from project to project, but I’ve found out it really improves my work ethic to be able to have something different to do from time to time.

What I’ve learned about this office: The employees here really know what they’re doing.  They work hard.  They all have different talents.  They help one another.   They’re willing to be there for me with whatever I need.  They ask me to complete certain assignments, but they also ask me what I’d like to work on and what I’d like to learn while I’m here.  They want me to succeed as much as I want to succeed. 

I feel so thankful that I have spent this summer interning at KVBPR.  I truly feel I’ve garnered the professional skills and personal wisdom needed to confidently take my next steps into the world.  I will always look back fondly on my time here and hope to stay in contact with the team.  Thank you, KVBPR, for all you’ve done for me so far and will continue to do!


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