I didn’t have much PR experience this past spring when I was applying to my first internship. I always pictured myself working for a large agency or in-house at a big PR firm, but after spending countless hours sorting through internship applications, I found myself attracted to smaller agencies. During a phone call with my mom (while venting about the struggles of applying to summer internships), the company name that kept coming up was JDCommunications. It was odd considering how small the company was, only being interested previously in larger companies, but nonetheless, I was interested.
Before my first interview, after researching JDC online, I quickly came to the realization the benefits of working for a smaller firm. Since I’m relatively inexperienced and undecided about my specific interests in PR, which I said in my interview – college students take note – I wanted the experience without being locked in to one specific task. My predictions about the benefits of working for a smaller business exceeded my expectations within the first hour at JDC. I could already see how this experience would shape my career.
I walked into the office on my first day very nervous, slightly late, and a little wet from being rained on. Despite my tardiness and appearance, I was greeted warmly by the JDC team, who took time to explain the internship and office basics to me. I realized that, because it was a smaller firm, I was going to be able to work closely with the staff, which would guarantee me more visibility.
This summer, I learned a variety of tasks that contribute to being part of a PR and Marketing team for a client. I saw firsthand everything from the small day-to-day details and big decisions that create a successful brand. I got to work next to, eat lunch with, and become close to real industry professionals who personally mentored me.
I was told early on that this wasn’t just a “go get me coffee” kind of internship. Although I wasn’t opposed to that, it excited me to know that my work would be meaningful. I was treated as more of an employee than an intern, I was given more responsibility. Rather than sitting at an empty desk wondering what to do next, I was constantly working on different projects for various clients. Whether I was typing up a press release, sending out an email blast, contacting media to promote a client’s book, or simply interacting on social media, I was gaining exposure to what it really means to work in this field.
As I mentioned previously, although my official title was PR/Social Media Intern and I did have regular responsibilities I ended up being involved in a variety of other important tasks including events, marketing plans, and researching content for our clients’ social media platforms. Instead of being confined to one specific department, I tried different things every day. Since I came into my internship unaware of what I really wanted to do, being able to try a little of everything really helped me decide what direction I’d like to take my career.
In addition to helping me along my career path, I developed valuable professional skills I would not have gained had I not been given such a diverse workload. My internship exposed me to new interests that could lead to different jobs in the future.
I know, without a doubt, this experience will be hard to beat. Doing hands-on work for real clients, trying out most facets of PR, and fostering real relationships – not to mention the cool events I attended – are things most interns don’t get the opportunity to do. Working for successful, driven, and passionate women created a positive and fun work environment and inspired me to continue working hard. So, to anyone who is thinking of applying to internships at small firms, or if you’re considering hiring a small PR firm for your business, remember that quality always beats quantity.