By Vanessa Gresley
When starting an internship people are often focused on the outcomes, like profile pieces and resume builders, but with my internship, I left with something even more valuable: an idea of the work culture I want to maintain in my future.
I interned at Muse, a content marketing agency in Cleveland. I learned a lot about storytelling, creating a story with a client’s mission and tips on writing and creating. But another thing I learned was the importance of good work environment.
Here are a few aspects of a good work culture/environment I learned from Muse:
Weird right? How just saying hello can make a world of a difference where ever you go. Despite the simplicity of this point, I have worked in many places where you walk into work and people don’t say hello. They keep going about their day, as your about to start yours, and there is no acknowledgment. This sets the tone for the day and saying hello makes everyone feel a little more human and important. Walk-in, smile bright and say hello: that’s exactly what was done at Muse, every day. Every one acknowledged each other as the workday began and the team was getting ready to kick a$$.
It’s easy to get lost in the busyness of it all but that’s why taking time to do the simple things, like saying hello, can make your employees and coworkers feel even more valued.
Teamwork makes the dream work. I’m sure we’ve all heard that before but it’s true. Taking the time to ask and answer questions with the whole team involved gets everyone thinking which creates better outcomes for the client. When you’re stuck, you know the team is there to help and I’ve been in some environments where it doesn’t always feel that way. 86% of employees and executives cite lack of collaboration or ineffective communication for workplace failures. Muse is successful and will continuously grow to be successful because of their dedication to continuous collaboration and communication.
I watched the team use project management systems diligently, update each other on changes and constantly stay in touch. The team worked together in “whiteboard sessions,” where they would take a topic or idea and write it out on the whiteboard. That way everyone can visualize what’s going on and give input about best practices. The team also held multiple weekly meetings to make sure the whole agency was on the same page and knew what everyone was working on.
I know what efficient teamwork looks like and it’s something I will always keep in mind.
Staying positive is something many say is “key” to a good life but it’s actually the key to a great workplace. Things go wrong all the time but it’s how you handle it that controls how you end up feeling about it. For me, it was the way the team handled miscommunication between clients that created a roadblock they didn’t see coming. The team didn’t get down about it they reconvened and collaboratively talked about ways to change the strategy to avoid the same issue. It’s never a failure with Muse, it’s about how they can improve and change the experience for the team and their clients so it’s beneficial for everyone.
Another part of staying positive is the positivity of the people around you. Working with people who bring positivity to the workplace and work to positively uplift each other is something I will look for in every workplace I go.
You always hope to get something out of an internship and I am forever grateful to have gotten great mentors, new skills and an earning for a positive, collaborative and inclusive work environment.
By: Samantha Ross
Everyone needs an internship to graduate. Some people struggle to find one they're passionate about and take the first one they find because it was the only thing they found. Unfortunately, finding an internship isn’t always easy, but don’t think that you always have to find one you're passionate about online.
Recently, I was looking for an internship in an athletic department at a university. I knew I wanted to gain experience in the sport PR world and, when I couldn’t find anything online, I started reaching out to athletic departments around Kent to see if they offered any internships. I finally heard back from Cleveland State University (CSU) and in just a few months, I began interning there.
Going into my internship, I made sure to stay open to trying new things. I knew that I had a strong interest in working for an athletic department, so this was going to be my time to learn as much as I could. One of the first things I learned about was PrestoSports, an online hub that allows athletic departments to update their website. I used this website throughout my entire internship and, by the end, was comfortable using it on my own. On this website, I updated rosters, schedules, student-athletes’ bios and headshots. This was great for me to learn because many athletic departments across the country use this website or something similar. I was also able to practice and expand my InDesign skills, which is something I didn't have much experience in before.
One thing that I’ve noticed about myself during the internship is that I don’t want to sit at a desk all the time. Most days I was working at a desk, but there were other days that I spent at an athletic event, and that is what got me really excited about work. I had the opportunity to work many different sporting events such as wrestling, volleyball, soccer and basketball. Even though I was there for work, it didn’t feel like it because I enjoyed it so much.
It is important to try to find an internship that you love because you don’t want to wake up every morning wishing you didn’t have to go. I don’t think there was ever a day that I didn’t want to go to my internship. If you are struggling to find an internship that interests you, start thinking about companies that you are interested in and reach out to them. Doing this will let people know that you are interested in interning for them and they will most likely remember your name just because you reached out. I think the most important thing I’ve learned from my internship at CSU was to always be willing to learn new things. Even when I didn’t know how to do something, I would still try it and if I had questions, I would ask. Take every opportunity that you are offered. Your supervisors want to see you succeed, not fail.
Although at first I didn’t want to do another internship because it was in Cleveland and unpaid, I’m so happy I had this opportunity because I was able to gain so much valuable information. In the end, this internship made me realize that I do really want to work in the athletic department at a university. I did so many things during my time at CSU that I didn’t even touch on, so if you’re interested in sports and want to talk, feel free to reach out!
Connect with Samantha Ross, VP of Fundraising via email.
By: Hannah Wagner
As a college student, it’s normal to be stressed, have ups and downs and concerns about where you will end up post graduation. You may start off freshman year thinking you know exactly what you want and how to achieve it, but then senior year rolls around and you aren’t sure if the original path you paved for yourself is still the right one. How do you overcome being unsure or uncomfortable in the point you’re at in life?
Personally, I’ve had many ups and downs throughout my college career and changed my path, hobbies and plans numerous times. My whole college experience has been filled discomfort. As graduation approaches in May, the pressure became stronger to nail down what I actually want to do with my life. After weeks of thinking and analyzing what is important to me and where my passion lies, I’ve been able to get a better understanding of what I want, and I want to share some advice and steps I took with other students to help them if they’re going through a similar situation.
It’s okay to be uncomfortable
When I started my college career, someone gave me the advice to “get comfortable being uncomfortable,” and that really stuck with me. You grow the most when you are out of your comfort zone, and just because things may not be going as you planned doesn’t mean you are as off track as you think. Learn to be okay with being uncomfortable, and take advantage of tackling the situation to grow as an individual
Write down your goals and values
One big thing I did when I was having what I’d like to call my “Quarter life crisis” is to write down my goals in life and things I valued. For example, I wrote down goals I’d like to accomplish by the time I was 25-30 and what values I wanted and, more importantly, didn’t want in a career/job opportunity. This really helped me narrow down what I cared about.
Find where your passion lies
In my opinion, everyone can learn how to do a job, but not everyone can grow a passion for it. No matter what it is you’re struggling with, you need to understand if you’re doing something just because it’s working or convenient for the moment, or if it’s something you’re passionate about. I’m not talking about quitting your part-time serving job that pays the bills because you don’t aspire to work in a restaurant. I mean if you’re actively participating in a student organization, full-time career opportunity or volunteering at a nonprofit because you think you have to but you dread going to it every time…stop! Focus on prioritizing what gets you excited, what you spend your free time learning about and what doesn’t feel mundane to you.
With that being said, sometimes you have to bite the bullet and finish out that internship you just can’t stand or lead a fundraising activity you may not have wanted to. Make sure to appreciate the experiences you have and learn something from them, while also growing and tailoring your next experience to be something you’ll enjoy more.
Network in areas you’re considering
Maybe you’re just completely lost and can’t figure out where to begin. The key to overcoming this is talking with others who are in areas that you enjoy! For example, if you’re undecided between going into sports or nonprofit PR, or staying local or moving out of state, talk to people who have been in your position before. Ask them how they tackled it and what challenges and rewards they faced along the way. This helps give you a better guide for expectations. Maybe you think Washington D.C. would be the best place to live, but a friend that just moved there hates the fast-paced life. This gives you an inside perspective on what to expect without having to make big decisions and realize it wasn’t what you thought when it may be too late. Use your network!
Side note: PRSSA Kent has a huge network of PR professionals that are around the country; utilize them to help you figure out your own life!
Don’t put others first
I’ve always struggled with feeling guilty about hurting others’ feelings, but as a young college student you really must prioritize yourself. Close relationships can play a huge role in your life and be a strong supporter, or opposer, of your life choices. For example, if you daydream about living in New York but your family doesn’t want you to move, don’t let that diminish your passion. If your significant other is staying local and you want to take your dream job in California, you should put yourself first. These decisions are hard and not as easy as it sounds, but you can’t let others make life choices for you - you must make them for yourself. I’m a firm believer in attempting to try something I feel strongly in and fail, than never trying at all. You can’t be afraid to fail; you are your own best friend and you know what’s best for yourself, so believe in your decisions and back them up with your goals and values.
Overall, getting through college and planning out your life is difficult. You will be confused, uncomfortable and stressed, but you will get there. Surround yourself with people that support you and you will make it, I promise!
If you’re going through an uncomfortable time, you can reach out to Hannah, Web and Social Media Manager, at email@example.com for more advice or just to grab a cup of coffee and chat.
By: Vanessa Gresley
One of the most important responsibilities of my position on the board for PRSSA is planning Communications Connection. CommConn is our yearly networking event hosted by PRSSA Kent and Franklin Advertising. I was intimidated because I had never planned an event before, let alone if any professionals were going to attend.
So the time came for us to head to National Conference and I was super excited; scared because the plane ride but super excited for the trip. When viewing the brochure I saw that one of the sessions was focused on strategic event planning and new this was the perfect fit for my new position.
The session was done by Gary McCormick. Gary is the owner and principal of GMc Communications. He’s worked with HGTV, Food Network, Travel Channel and Great American Country. The session was all about creating an event with impact. Gary said that the one thing events do is bind people together with the same memories, it aligns them along the same train of thought. Most of the time events are happy occasions; there is joy in celebrating. Gary said companies use events to build engagement.
Engagement with an audience creates an affinity with the brand and helps the consumers stay loyal. Sometimes it’ll be a brand delivering on their promise or executing a strategic goal. Gary gave six reasons for why we really do events.
When you are hosting an event the first question to ask is why. Always know what the outcome needs to be before you even start designing the event. Sometimes when you see what you want the outcome to be from throwing this event, you will realize that an event may not be the tactic that will get you the best outcome.
Once you know you want to host an event, Gary said the first thing you have to do is build a plain.
Gary said the hardest part can be sticking to your budget. Your plan needs to align with your budget. Things to keep in mind: Speakers, cost, food, vendors, visuals, support services, security, logistics and creative needs.
“When you become an event person you become a multitasker with great communication skills.”
It takes strategic skills to bring the party to plan. Use SMART objectives said Gary. Through the whole process make sure to keep asking yourself questions and going back to the whole reason you are throwing the event.
Partnerships with the local community and businesses that drive your target audience is a great way to make your event successful. Develop the plan, meet the objectives and follow through and you’ll start planning events with the successful outcomes you want.
By: Kassandra Kaczmarek
Sunday, Oct. 22, students gathered in salon J of the Hilton Austin to learn about how the city responded to the Austin bombings earlier this year. This session was held by a panel of four employees of the city: David Green, Anna Sabana, Angel Flores and Lisa Cortinas.
Lisa Cortinas, began the session with a breakdown of the timeline of how the events occurred. There incidents took place over a 19-day span and package bombs were delivered to seven different locations, ranging from FedEx locations and private residents. Two people were killed, and five were injured during the course of these bombings.
All of the panelists explained how they were personally and professionally affected by these bombings. They went into detail of what their job was once they heard word of what was happening
“I cried and was scared for the city,” said Cortinas. The major conference and festival South by Southwest, or SXSW, was happening during this time, as well as multiple college spring breaks. They explained how the work force in Austin was severely impacted at this time and gave an example of garbage men not wanting to pick up boxes, for fear it could be a bomb.
The panelists went through the details of how they communicated with the media, “One of the most important things in these situations is clear communication,” said Angel Flores.
A major struggle with this tragedy was that you can’t prepare for something like this, “How do you prepare for something like this? You don’t. We know how to prepare for flooding’s but there is no preparation for a serial bomber,” said David Green.