Tuesday, March 2, 2010
In the last entry, I talked about what I do with the social media side of marketing and public relations. Now I want to talk about the other things I do, which don’t necessarily require a computer.
The biggest on-going project I’ve had during this internship is handling replies to donation requests. Because of its focus, my internship site gets a lot of donation requests from educational and child-centered organizations such as schools and after-school groups. Once it has been decided on whether a request will be accepted or not, I receive the letters and send them out. Most rejection letters are sent via email, but requests without a specified email address get a letter in the mail. The requests chosen for support also receive a letter, along with a brochure about the museum and four admission tickets. Besides handling ticket donation requests, I also handle brochure requests. Most of the brochures I have sent out have been for relocation services around the cities, but there have also been requests from individuals wanting more information on the museum, so there is no normal amount of brochures to send out.
I’ve also worked a lot with media clippings for my internship, which is one way the museum can keep track of its mentions and ads in the media. During my first month, I organized about two years of print media clippings, including cutting and sorting. Although it took about half a day to organize all the clippings, it is a lot easier than searching through newspapers to find them. I’ve had that task too, after my supervisor was away for a couple of days and accumulated a bag full of Twin Cities newspapers. Recently, I’ve been working with an online media clipping service to create spreadsheets of museum mentions and media monitoring of several larger events. The media monitoring was really interesting, since I saw how information spreads across the internet and how a story can be twisted from an official announcement via word of mouth.
Besides donation requests and media clippings, photography has been another large, non-social media part of my internship. I’ve done everything from being a photographer’s assistant, taking pictures, organizing thumbnails, and pulling photo requests. Since what the museums offers is an experience which is hard to translate only into text, pictures become a great way to promote what it has to offer; not only to visitors, but donors, possible volunteers/interns/employees, the media, and other museums.
One example of this was the "intern in action" photos I took in anticipation of a redesign to the museum’s internship page. Because most of the interns (myself included) work at computers, I had to design a variety of ways to show what else interns do. One of these was to have the museum operations intern stand in as an exhibit intern and "build" exhibit components.
It’s almost the end of my internship, so the next (and last) blog will be a reflection on my internship and where I plan to go from here.
Until next time,
Moving onto the Internet with Social Media
I’ve written about some of the differences I’ve noticed between classes and my internship (time management, scheduling, and project management), so I thought it was about time to talk about what I do at my internship. But that is not the easiest thing to describe, because I do so many different things. The category most of the work I do falls under is "social media" but even that means a wide spread of projects. Right now, I’m researching what other museums do on their Facebook pages to promote new and upcoming exhibits. Although it sounded like an easy task when I started, I quickly realized it was a lot more work. First, having a page on Facebook is something new to many areas of business, so many museums do not have a Facebook page. Then, those that do might not have many things that they do to promote a new or upcoming exhibit. So, it is a lot of sifting through Facebook pages to find the information I am looking for.
Learning what other museums are doing with their social media tools and finding out what could be done with social media is a really great opportunity for myself and where I am interning at. I get the experience of working with social media tools, something which is becoming a great skill to have as more and more businesses are turning to the internet and social media tools to market themselves. For the nonprofit museum I work at, many social media tools are free, which are great for a place like where I intern at because of the cost. Not only is something like a Facebook page free, it is a great way to reach large groups of people at once and takes advantage of the move many people are making to social media sites.
I do a lot more than just spend time on social media sites, so I’ll talk more about that time.
Time and Project Management
I’ve realized how different time and project management is between college and work during the three and a half months I’ve been working at my internship. Although it doesn’t seem like it during class, there really is an advantage to having a whole semester laid out for you class by class. There aren’t any surprise assignments that will suddenly pop up in the middle of the day and you can tell ahead of time which days will have a harder workload than others. You can even plan exactly when you want to get everything done, even if you make that decision to finish a major project the day before it’s due.
Unfortunately, time and project management doesn’t work that easily at my internship. For one thing, I didn’t get a sheet of paper in January that told me everything I would be working on and when. Instead, I get a list of projects during weekly check-ins with my supervisor and have to decide when and how long I will work on them for. Another difference between time management in classes and my internship is that I get projects added on all the time during the week. I’ll get emails or papers dropped off at my desk during the day, and I have to figure out how to work those projects in with everything else I’ve already been given. So, keeping a to-do list like I mentioned in my last blog post has really helped me keep track of the projects I have coming in and out.
Another difference I’ve seen in time and project management is that I don’t just turn in one draft of something at my internship and then I’m done with it; like what has happened with a lot of my papers in classes. Instead of getting back a paper with comments and a grade, I have to make changes to the first draft and then give it back to my supervisor again. And since many of the things I write get seen by several different people before getting back to me again, I can’t always tell when I will get the draft back.
Although it might not seem like a major difference at first, managing time and projects in a "real world" situation is a lot different from college classes. Unlike with classes, you really have to learn to be flexible with getting projects done and to give yourself extra time because a new project will always come up.
Until next time-
A Less Stressed Intern or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Start Making Lists
It’s almost two months into my internship, and I do not know where the time has gone. I knew that having an internship was going to be a lot of work (and I enjoy what I am doing), but juggling an internship, class and a part-time job takes up all of my time. There is no more sleeping in (I’m usually up by 6am everyday) and there is always something that needs to be done but there isn’t the time. Add into the mix the fact that I need to keep track of what I am doing and what needs to be done, and it can get stressful at times.
However, I may have finally found a way to keep everything moving smoothly and with less stress without taking up even more of my precious time. Lists. Not just one, but many. And they are everywhere, on post-it notes, scribbled on scratch paper, Word documents. If it’s not written down, I might forget about it.
For the first month of my internship, I was list-less. Sure, there was the occasional note scribbled down of what I needed to do, but I could never remember where. I finally had enough of searching everywhere for that elusive piece of paper right before my supervisor would be out of the office for a couple of days. I knew I had to come up with something fast so I would remember everything that needed to be done and be able to tell where I was with a project. So, I opened up a Word document, named it "To-Do List" and started typing.
Now, that first list has grown into something much bigger. I don’t just put down the main task I need to do, but every step I need to take because I am taking on long-term projects. And there is a system to keep track my progress on the tasks. Bold text is a step/task that has been finished (I never delete it off the list completely); yellow highlighting means a due date within the next week. And almost everything has a date by it, whether it’s a personal due date or one set by my supervisor. Being able to take quick glance at this list (and having it just a click away) means that I know what I need to get done and helps me organize my day. It’s also helpful for when my supervisor stops by my cubicle with something new to do, I just add it my list right away and I don’t have to remember exactly what it is a couple hours later.
Not deleting anything off my to-do list has a couple of reasons. Since I am taking my internship for credit, I have progress reports due every three weeks. So, the Wednesday before a progress report is due, I transfer everything I have done in the past three weeks onto several Post-it notes and stick them into my planner. Then, when I get home, I can sit down and start outlining my progress report (yet another list) from the Post-it notes. I no longer have to stare at my computer screen and try to remember every task I’ve done in the past three weeks because it is all there in front of me.
Keeping my to-do list intact has also helped me with updating my resume. I recently met with my internship advisor to discuss adding this internship to my resume, and we decided to make a marketing-specific resume in addition to the general resume I already have. One suggestion he made was to look at 10-15 entry-level marketing positions to help me decide what to include in a skills section based on what was looked for in entry-level positions. Now that I’m almost down with that part, I can quickly look over everything I have done in my internship, and match the skills I have to the skills looked for in a position.
Although making a list might be a simple task, having lists has made my life a lot easier by remembering tasks and projects for me. It’s something I never would have realized in my classes since I was not a big list writer/outliner before. But now that I have what feels like fifty million things to do, it’s made everything a little bit smoother and frees up some time that I would otherwise use up trying to remember what I need to do. And, I feel more prepared to talk about my internship and the skills I am learning and improving on.
Until next time-
What Can an English Major Do?
My name is Jennifer, I am a senior at Saint Cloud State University majoring in English, and I am not going to teach after I graduate. That is the one thing people always ask me when they find out that I am an English major, "Are you going to teach?" The next question they ask, "Well, then what are you going to do?" has always been harder to answer. I’ve always loved working with words and writing, but was never sure of exactly what I wanted to do after graduating. Even an emphasis in rhetorical and applied writing hasn’t narrowed down what I could do with my degree since I’ve worked with so many forms of writing within my classes: creative, fiction, nonfiction, analytical, web…the list goes on and on. So, I thought getting an internship would at least help me narrow down what I might be doing after college.
Of course, deciding what internship to apply for wasn’t made any easier by the fact that I did not have an exact career or profession that I wanted to go into. I made an appointment to talk with the internship director for the English department, and he helped to narrow down what I should look for in an internship based on what I had enjoyed doing during my classes, and also what my interests where. Besides wanting writing to be a major part of the internship; I had taken two English classes focusing on web writing and social media, and wanted to explore what I could do with that emphasis in a profession.
So, after almost three months of searching, applying, and waiting, I finally got the call that I had been waiting for, someone wanted me to intern for them. I’ve been a social media and promotions intern at a museum in the Cities for almost two months now. One of the biggest goals for this internship is to soak up as much information as I can, especially as I am working in a field that I never have taken a class in: marketing and promotions. I’m also hoping to get a better understanding of how I am and narrow down what I want to do after graduating just a little bit more.