Monday, May 2, 2011
1st Entry: February 18, 2011
My name is Ashley Imdieke. I am nearing the end of my junior year at St. Cloud State University. Only one year left to go! I’m a public relations and communication studies major. Since I will be graduating next May, I’m currently on the look-out for a job. A few places that I am looking for positions in public relations include the Twin Cities, Duluth or Denver metro area. Before graduating from any university, gaining applied experience in your major is an invaluable asset when preparing to take your first “real” job. Knowing this, I began my search for internships that would expand on what our professors have taught us in class and important skills that they haven’t.
Because of my involvement in the Panhellenic Council, the governing body of the sororities on campus, I was able to network with professionals at a conference for Greek Life in St. Louis. I kept in contact with a few of the professionals from the conference and they were willing to offer me advice on any public relations project I was working on. Eventually, one of the professionals let me know that his company had an opening for a social media intern. I immediately went to their company’s website, found the job description, and decided that this was the opportunity of a life-time. After sending in my cover letter, resume, a few samples of my work, and recommendation letters, I was called for an interview and was hired that same week! Now I’m the social media intern for my company from January to the end of June 2011. One of the reasons why I wanted this internship so badly was because I would be living in Denver, CO for six months! A new place, an exciting internship, what could be better than that?
I work 30 hours a week. The staff members also take their interns to conferences around the U.S. I’ve already been taken back to that conference in St. Louis, MO where I first met them. Thus far, they’ve been keeping me busy. I’ve had the opportunity to learn how to produce, edit and strategically place video content to be used for public relations and marketing efforts for team. I’m also developing a plan for our company to use social media promotions and marketing to get the word out. Literally, I’m working with Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and many other sites and gaining knowledge on how to efficiently use them to reach our target audiences.
Did the move from Minnesota to Denver make me nervous? A little, but this internship has proven, very quickly, to be an invaluable experience. What I’ve mentioned to you has only scratched the surface of the things I’ve learned and it’s only been two months! I can’t wait to keep you all posted on the next four months!
2nd Entry: March 1, 2011
For this entry, I thought it would be a good idea to tell you a little bit about my current projects and how I have to work with a large variety of people to accomplish my work. At the moment, I am spending the majority of my time producing and editing videos for my company. While I was at a conference with the staff, my job was to shoot video content of the speakers and stage set up. This was a very beneficial skill to learn, producing a video. It forced me to really think about how I wanted the video to look and what I needed to do to maintain a favorable image for our company.
Now fast forward a few weeks and, after learning new video editing software, here I am making videos. Here’s what my days look like 1.) Upload all video content and graphics into the editing software, final cut express 2.) start calling the people in the videos to make sure we are producing something that they approve of 3.) start making transcripts of the videos so it will be easier to edit things out or add things in 4.) create an introduction slide and a concluding slide with all the correct contact information 5.) start cutting things out of the video, adding music, creating banners, watching transitions, taking out audio disturbances, etc. 6.) run through the entire video and if anything needs editing, go back and re-doing it again, 7.) FINALLY! The video is done and ready to be exported. Once these are all done, then it is ready for the web!
The editing is a lot of work, but it’s working with our clients that is the most challenging. I need to be able to deliver to them a video that fit’s their tastes, but keeps the brand of our company. You have to be patient and have excellent communication skills to unsure complete understanding on both sides. There are times when it will be easy working with clients, they’ll answer your calls and email you back right away; and then there are times when it’s like pulling teeth. In the end, you have to be comfortable enough to follow up on your phone calls and email them again. At the end of the day, you are the one who has to make the deadlines so you have to be creative and persistent when you have to work with others.
3rd Entry: March 17, 2011
As we prepare for graduation (scary!) what we are really doing is stating to the rest of the world, “Hey! I’ve finished school and now I’m ready for my adult job now!” While we realize that we need to develop our resumes so they make all of our experience and skills shine, get the interview suit, and networking, what many of us don’t realize is that we need to shape up a bit in one other area: social networking sites.
Now, more than ever before, employers are taking advantage of social networking sites to get a little more information about the people they receive resumes from. They want to know if you are, truly, the best fit for that company’s personality and if you align with their core goals and values. You may be asking the question, “but all my sites are set to private, what do I have to worry about?” That’s great that your sites are private, but in today’s world, that doesn’t mean a whole lot. One way or another, they can look at your social media be it through your friends’ accounts that aren’t private, other people retweeting your messages, if you share video, the list goes on and on.
Now here’s the thing we need to think about, “do we really want employers to see those great pictures from the party last night, you know, the one with all the alcohol and the chugging competitions? That would be a big no! We really have to think about the pictures we put on our Facebooks, what pictures we are tagged in, what people are posting to our walls, etc. Also, what videos have you created? Do they really show you in your best light?
I mention these things because this is how I landed my internship. Before I even had my interview, my employers were looking at my Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube channel, and many more. I have my accounts set to private, but they were still able to see what I have been up to through my posts on other people’s walls or through other activities done during social networking. Everyone at my company has a Facebook and Twitter account and most of them graduated college years ago. The CEO actually found me on Twitter and advised me to apply for their internship! How crazy is that? It was a big shocker to me to know that they glanced at my social media to determine if I was the person I said I was on my resume. Luckily for me, I take what I do on social media seriously and through in appropriate humor when I feel like it. I would say go through your Facebooks, Twitters, whatever you’re on and take a serious look and ask yourself, “Does this person I see on my Facebook really look like someone who could land a job at (insert your dream career here)?”
4th Entry: March 31, 2011
For this entry, I thought I’d discuss another valuable lesson from my experience as an intern. This lesson involves paying attention to detail. It doesn’t matter what career you go into, you will run into problems if you don’t double check every single little thing you do. Think about it, when you’re reading something and come across a spelling error, what do you do the rest of the time you are reading? You are looking for other errors on the page. How effective would this be for your company? Your viewer doesn’t even care about what you’ve written on the page, they are only looking for mistakes.
Now I understand that not everyone is a writer or does reviewing text for a living, but you get my drift. Imagine if a part on a machine wasn’t tweaked correctly or one number was off in your calculations; there are going to be big consequences. For one, your company will be less credible to its customers, but also important, you will be discredited by your employer.
If this is not a skill you are very good with, and I speak from personal experience, it is something you can learn. One of the first things I had to do was learn how to slow down. When you become stressed with meeting deadlines, you tend to skip over the little things because you want to have your project completed. However you aren’t really producing quality work if you are missing little errors. So slow down and carve out some time before your deadline to review your work. Another action that helps is to get into habits of doing things. If you do things in a certain order, you will be more likely to catch something that isn’t right because it disrupts the order. Lastly, make lists of EVERYTHING you need to do and check before you can officially call yourself done. This way you’ll have a reminder of everything that you need to do and it will be a nice visual representation of everything you’ve accomplished.
The closer I’m getting to graduating (I can’t believe I only have a year!) the more important staying in touch with others seems to get. Across the board it appears to be getting more difficult to land that job you’ve had your eye on; that is, unless you know someone who could help you get there.
You’ve probably guessed pretty quickly that I am referring to developing some skills in networking. For most, well at least for me, networking is something that I constantly hear over and over again. “This is a great opportunity to network! Look at all the professionals here; go network with them.” This list goes on and on. We’ve all heard it, right? When I was starting out, I only had one big question on my mind: “What in the world am I supposed to do to network?”
Looking back, I can laugh a little bit and realize that it’s not as difficult as I thought. Most of the internships and jobs I’ve landed in my life have been because of the people I know and keep in touch with. You need to start thinking about people who might be able to help you out in the future when you start looking for internships or jobs. Are you involved in any student organizations? Think about current members who work or intern somewhere. Also, talk with the older members of your clubs and get to know them. They’ll be graduating and I’m willing to bet they’ll remember you if you take the time to get to know them. Do any professors know the work you do? Talk with them about your career goals. More often than not, they are willing to help you find what you’re looking for. No, they won’t do the work for you, but having them as a reference and speaking positively on your behalf will do wonders. Also, never forget your friends. If they have any sort of connections with a place you want to work (think of all their relatives) I bet they would be willing to help you out.
Lastly, if you are at a job fair, company tour, etc., talk with the people who work there! I know it’s a little intimidating at first, but they are not out there to embarrass you. If you know what companies interest you, do a little homework and strike up a conversation about a recent change in their company. Also, questions are always welcomed. They know that we are students and understand that we are not constantly in their world. Don’t be afraid, they’ll cut you some slack!
At the end of every school year, I feel it is important to take a step back, let go of all the stress that has been building up over the semester and start thinking about everything that you’ve accomplished this past year. Are you wiser than last semester? Do you feel a little more confident? Whatever it was you did that helped you grow as a person is worth remembering.
Now, it is my turn to reflect on these past months during my internship.
I think about everything I’ve accomplished that seemed so intimidating before I started, like moving away to a different state! The thought of being away from home for that long is truly scary, but after you figure out where the grocery store is, what the emergency numbers are, how to get to your office and order your first delivery pizza, all that stresses go away. Moving was the easy part.
Throughout my internship, I was challenged every week to meet deadlines, learn a new set of skills, work with different staff members and create quality work. It was hard and stressful at first, but it quickly becomes something that you can handle. I’ve learned so much from this internship that I can use throughout my career. The challenges I received every week only helped me grow and mature enough to be ready to handle the real world. All these deadlines became second nature. Now, I’m ready to take on bigger and better things.
I’ve made many connections and life-long friendships along the way. The staff at my company couldn’t have been better to work with. They were all very supportive of my learning and gave me constructive feedback that only helped me create a better quality project. We all plan to keep in touch when my internship ends. By now, you know what that means: more networking!
If I could go back and do it all over again, I would take it in a heartbeat! This has been an unbelievable experience for me. It has given me the skills I need to succeed after graduation and has helped me grow in more ways that I can even count. I firmly believe that any internship, big or small; close to home or far away will have tremendous pay-offs for your future.