As a college senior who still has a year left of school and who will be a PR intern for the first time this summer, I want to make sure I’m setting myself up with the best opportunity to turn this internship into full-fledged employment by the time I’m done with school. To help give me some advice, I spoke with CAWOOD Account Executive Lindsey Kate McCarthy about how she was able to go from intern to account executive and what to expect in the first few years on the job.
Intern Duties and Beyond
Lindsey started out as a part-time intern at CAWOOD, a Eugene-based marketing agency, during the spring term of her senior year at the University of Oregon. She worked on an account for the Susan G Komen Race for the Cure, for which her responsibilities included working alongside the account manager; creating weekly-news releases; representing CAWOOD at event-committee meetings; and working with media contacts from local TV and radio stations to hold fundraisers, which included a breast cancer survivor fashion show. Lindsey explained that in order to turn an internship into a job, you have to not only work hard on the tasks you are expected to complete but also be willing to embrace opportunities to go beyond what your internship originally asked of you. For Lindsey, this opportunity came when she decided to take on a project with a paying client that contributed to the profitability of CAWOOD. By taking the initiative to go beyond what was asked of her as an intern, Lindsey was able to demonstrate her value as a potential paid member of the CAWOOD team.
School Work to Real Work
As I’ve stated in my previous post, I am doing PR with two student run organizations – PRSSA and DuckTV. Seeing that Lindsey was also a member of a student-run PR organization, Allen Hall Public Relations, I was curious as to how her experience as an account executive for a school organization stacks up to being an account executive in the “real world.” Lindsey believes she gained good experience for communicating with clients from her work with AHPR. She also said that one of the things she disliked about her experience with AHPR was that her term ended before she was able to see the results of her work. She says at CAWOOD she is able to see her projects through from start to finish and that it “feels more complete.” Lindsey also explained that there is a whole new element of responsibility added when a client’s money is on the line. She said that in the real world, you’re not “waiting for a grade anymore,” and that your reward comes in the form of the effect your work has on other people.
Final Tips for Starting Out According to Lindsey
KEEP LEARNING – In your first few years on the job, try to demonstrate your willingness to learn and grow. Understand that you’ve built a foundation through school work, but the real learning doesn’t start until you’re actually applying what you’ve learned at school into a professional setting.
TRUST YOUR SENIORS – Accept that your more experienced colleagues will know more than you. Show that you understand that you don’t know everything by asking questions and showing your willingness to grow.
BE OPEN AND AWARE – Look for opportunities and be willing to take on a variety of tasks. It will help you discover what it is you truly enjoy doing, and “that’s when work stops being work.”