As a child, summertime meant signing up for camps, going to the pool and relaxing with friends. The only thing that really needed to be accomplished was summer reading. In college, summer takes on a whole different meaning. Students compete to see how much they can cram into their three months of time off. Some students use the time to take classes. Others use it to work and save up for the school year ahead. For me, the last two summers have been filled with internships.
I am a true believer in the internship experience. The things I learned within these short periods of time helped me and my portfolio grow. As you can imagine, I found it very discouraging when I read an editorial about how interns aren’t worth the time the employer uses to train them. I completely disagree with this position. Although interns might take some time to manage, they are able to contribute to the office in a number of ways. Instead of talking about my own experience, however, I decided to talk to some other individuals to see what they got out of their summer internships.
Lizzie Powell, a student at The University of Georgia, interned in the Public Relations Department of the Georgia Aquarium this summer. Powell found out about the internship at a PRSSA conference in Atlanta when she met Meghann Gibbsons, the director of public relations for the Aquarium.
“Her enthusiasm and love for her job instantly caught my attention,” Powell said. “I spoke with her further about potential internships in the PR department, set up an interview and voila, I was lucky enough to land an incredible, hands-on internship with the world’s largest Aquarium.”
Throughout the summer, Powell gained experience by writing press releases, strategy sheets, social media posts, e-newsletter content and calendar listings. For Powell, the most rewarding experience was seeing her work succeed. This past winter, the Georgia Aquarium rescued four cold-stunned sea turtles. Once they were rehabilitated, Georgia Aquarium partnered with the Georgia Sea Turtle Center to release the sea turtles in Jekyll Island, Ga.
“After pitching to many media outlets in the local area and from around the state, many [people] joined in on the celebration to send the turtles back to sea,” Powell said. “It was a rewarding experience to share the excitement with hundreds of bystanders cheering the turtles on while many news teams documented the event.”
For Karissa Bursch, a student at The University of Alabama, her summer internship sent her to Barcelona, Spain. Bursch is majoring in both public relations and Spanish, so landing an internship in Barcelona was a dream come true. Bursch interned for a PR agency called DcorporateCom, and her main responsibility was international development. As a Spanish company, DcorporateCom was interested in gaining some American clients. Therefore, Bursch was a huge asset to the office, since she speaks both languages and has extensive knowledge about American culture.
Bursch spent a lot of time translating Spanish documents to English. Although a few employees in the office spoke English, they did not know how to appropriately use the language in certain situations. For example, the Spanish language becomes more formal and decorative in press releases. In English, press releases are fact-based and straightforward. Therefore, Bursch had to find the perfect middle ground. For Bursch, the best part of the internship was learning how to use communication in a different setting.
“It was so cool being in an environment where everyone speaks Spanish,” Bursch said. “I learned a lot about language and communication. I was able to connect with individuals on different levels that I didn’t think of before.”
Powell and Bursch had very different experiences this summer, but both gained knowledge that will help them succeed in the future. I think it’s safe to say that the internship experience was a summer well spent for both them and their employers.
By Libby Page