I can hardly believe I've been in New York City for three weeks now.  In some ways, it feels like I just moved, but moreso it really is hard to believe it's only been three weeks.  So much has happened in that span of time, and although I still have so much to learn and so many more things I want to see and do, I already feel like I've learned a lot about the city and am starting to feel more natural as a city gal.

Just an FYI - the title of this post comes from one of my favorite songs, Human Nature, by Michael Jackson.  I've been using it for everything I've done documenting my time here, but that line has always struck me as my sentiment toward moving here.  I truly want to take a bite out of — and savor — my time here.  It's a goal I dreamed of and yearned for for such a long time, and I worked really hard to accomplish it.  After all that, soaking it all in is the only way to do it.

I'm here interning at Burson-Marsteller, a global communications firm with offices all over the world, in the corporate/financial practice.  I found out about Burson after attending the PRSSA National Conference last fall, where I met Jess Noonan, an employee also in Burson's corporate/financial practice.  She was part of a panel discussing work/life balance, a topic that's very important to me.  I absolutely love the world of public relations and the work experience I've had.  In fact, I really wanted to move to New York and immerse myself in my job and learn as much as I could while I'm still young and can be a bit more selfish and unconcerned with how it affects anybody else.  PR is a stressful field where lots of unexpected tasks can come your way, and working early mornings, late nights and weekends is not uncommon.  However, I believe it's important to recognize the difference between tight deadlines where that extra time is required and just staying at the office because your work never truly ends, but the world won't end if you leave at 5:30.  Also, as much as I love work so far, I did move to a fabulous city with so much to do, and what was the point if I can't enjoy exploring it? *Okay, back to the point.  I know most people tend to notice I'm a little long-winded.  What can I say?!  I'm a word person.*  At the conference, Jess seemed so sweet, genuine and as if she truly enjoyed her job.  I spoke with her after, explaining I was visiting New York in December to conduct informational interviews and wanted to see if she would be able to meet with me for 15-30 minutes sometime that week.  When I met with her in December, she further explained her work, the company and the Harold Burson Summer Internship program, a 10-week internship that is often treated as an extensive job interview for students who have graduated.  Upcoming college seniors can also intern and be considered for a full time position the following summer

I applied for the internship, sent my transcript, completed the essays and went through two rounds of interviews — one with HR and one with members from the practice I was being considered for (corporate/financial of course) before I was offered a spot at the end of March.  I knew they would be making their calls sometime that week, and I remember running to the bathroom to grab a tissue as soon as I saw the 212 area code pop up on my phone.  I was so ecstatic to hear the good news and immediately called my parents and best friend, Kelsey, and quickly told my other friends through texting and GroupMe.  That evening of pure joy/"How the heck is this all going to work out?!" will forever be etched in my memory.

So now, that leads me to where I am today!  Out of 500 applicants, about 59 were selected to intern at offices all over the country, with 24 of us being in the New York office, working across all practices.  The first day was a long orientation familiarizing us with the company, our practices and fellow interns.  There are three other interns in my practice, and I could not be more thankful for each of them.  We're all so different, but we all just click.  We share a conference room with the two healthcare interns, and the six of us are constantly talking and laughing.  We joke that we probably know each other a little too well for how little time we've known each other.  As I mentioned earlier, we all share a big conference room together and have our own laptops.  We've named it Intern Island, and it's become our cozy little home.  Although I don't know the other interns in other practices as well, they all seem wonderful. and I really hope to get closer to them as the summer goes on.  Most of us went for dinner and drinks after work one day last week, and it was the most fun night I've had since being here.  I guess since we're all in the same boat, we're all just looking to become friends and have a good time, and I love being around such a diverse group of talented and intelligent people.

So far I've worked on a variety of projects, including a lot of media list compiling and media pitching.  Especially with my journalism minor and working at my school's TV station, media relations has always been an interest to me, and I expressed on the first day this was something I wanted more practice with.  I've also pulled together coverage reports, which outline media coverage for clients, constructed pitches and conducted a lot of research.  The corporate/financial team has been great about setting up meetings for the interns with senior level employees for us to learn more about each other, see whose backgrounds interest us and what projects we might like to work on.  All the interns as a whole also have one to two hour trainings almost every day that teach us a variety of things, such as the different practices across the firm, helpful tools such as media monitoring websites and skills like time management.

I'm truly blown away by how friendly and welcoming everybody in the company is.  The interns are treated like equals, and I always feel as if I can approach anybody without feeling intimidated or like I'm bothering them.  The culture of the company is outstanding, and it shows in the people who work there.  The company also has great perks that keep employees happy, including Keurig machines on every floor, snacks every Tuesday and Thursday afternoon and a bar cart serving beer and wine every Friday afternoon.  It really is the little things that pick you up and make you feel appreciated.

Yeah, so I'm pretty much a big deal with my official badge and all.

All the interns on College Alma Mater Day when we wore our college T-shirts

Intern Island (minus Teyonna...Dangit, one of these days we are going to get a good picture of all six of us!) at the bagel breakfast - Amy, me, Michelle, Georgia and Carmen

We got to eat lunch with Harold Burson, the man who started Burson-Marsteller back in the '50s.  He's 93 and still comes to work just about every day, because, in his words, "Nobody ever told me to stop."  Isn't he the cutest?!  He's a legend and also so kind.  He told us he usually keeps his door open and we could come talk to him at any time.  He's also from Tennessee and has owned several Westies throughout his life, so I take that as a sign I ended up at the right place/Mr. Burson and I are meant to be besties. :) When some of us girls sat down across from him at the lunch, he said, "Well, it looks like the Miss America pageant in here!"  We died giggling.  He's the best.

After work dinner and drinks at Brother Jimmy's, a Southern (thank goodness!) restaurant started by a North Carolinian.  You get 20% off food on Wednesdays with a Southern ID.  Umm yes, please.  Carmen and I may or may not have looked up the menu at work (pretty much first thing in the morning because we love food that much), and were set on splitting BBQ nachos and the Swamp Water.  Think what you will, but I've always wanted to try a fishbowl, and it was delicious!  Another corporate intern stole the alligator, and he now sits in Intern Island with us.  I named him Artie, but it hasn't really caught on with the other girls yet.  Whatevs.

Teyonna, Aditi, me and Carmen at Brother Jimmy's

Teyonna, another corporate intern.  We all gave each other superlatives, and hers was Dark and Mysterious.  Teyonna's a little quieter, but when she speaks, every word is a word of wisdom, and a lot of things she says are so funny, but she's never trying to be funny.  I don't know what it is, but she's just a gem.  We both live in downtown Brooklyn and have the same subway commute.  Oh, and in case you were wondering, my superlative was Southern Belle.  I will gladly and proudly own that. :)

I think Friday was the most stressful day for all of us on the Island, and we were beyond excited to try out the Burson Bar Cart come 4:30.  Artie even made it in the picture!  See?  Don't you think he looks like an Artie?

Just the past two and a half weeks have been some of the most educational, insightful and fun times I've had, and I'm beyond excited to see what the rest of the program holds.  I know I was meant to be in the presence of this city, this firm and these people.  Grateful doesn't even begin to explain how I feel for this experience and the opportunity to live out my dream.  Cheers to HBSI NY 2014!