Virtual internship proves real value for future public relations professional
An internship in a fast-paced city featuring a broad range of marketing and communication opportunities was a top of the list for Katerin Rodriguez, the soon-to-be college graduate. But where to start?
The senior Bloomsburg University media and journalism major with an emphasis on public relations knew exactly where to begin her search. It was with The Washington Center, which specializes in providing immersive internships and academic seminars to students from hundreds of colleges and universities — including Bloomsburg — and young professionals from across the United States and more than 25 countries.
“Not only was TWC giving me the credits I needed to graduate on time but an amazing experience that was going to change me as a person and as a professional,” Rodriguez said. “TWC offered me the guarantee of an internship experience with a reputable organization based on my career interests. It gave me the chance to expand my network and build a portfolio, as well as grow as an individual and professional through their career readiness course.”
TWC ended up connecting Rodriguez to one of the top public relations and communications firms in the country. She spent the summer as an intern with the CommCore Consulting Group managing client-relevant research, database entry, as well as blogging for the firm that led to some social media marketing opportunities toward the end of her experience.
“Throughout the whole experience, I was able to grow each day as a professional at my job and grow my network,” Rodriguez said. “While at TWC, I was able to connect and talk to professionals from all around the world.”
CommCore provides media training, presentation training, crisis response, and public awareness campaigns through its offices in Washington, D.C., New York, Dallas, and Los Angeles.
“(Washington, D.C.) itself carries a lot of weight, and automatically you know that this is where you'll find amazing jobs, fashion, restaurants, attractions, and make amazing connections,” Rodriguez said. “So, being the opportunity was in D.C., I was happy to simply join TWC, but the credits offered to me were a bonus along with their knowledge and connections with organizations. These connections made it easy for me to find an internship site I really liked.”
But it wasn’t quite meant to be, as COVID-19 restrictions pushed Rodriquez’s internship to a virtual format. All what was not lost, though.
“Many are taking as much precaution as they can, but doing this internship virtually was definitely challenging in the sense your supervisors are not there for a quick question and answer,” Rodriguez said. “You don't get that full hands-on experience. Though I communicated with my team multiple times a day, every day, I still felt like I needed that in-person interaction. This would've benefited my relationship with my supervisors.”
However, according Rodriguez, she was well prepared for the internship because of the marketing and communications foundation built by Bloomsburg’s media and journalism program, as well as the marketing program she’s pursing a minor from.
“When I stepped into my role at CommCore, I was able to easily apply what I learned (write blogs, press releases, social media marketing, research) in my PR classes,” Rodriguez said. “If I hadn't taken these courses before my internship, I'd say my virtual experience wouldn't have been as smooth. Every day, I was able to help the CommCore team in many aspects, which is why I was able to tend to the many tasks and roles they gave me.”
Those specific classes included public relations tactics, marketing principles and practices, emergent media, public relations theories, fundamentals of digital marketing, news writing, and research methods. Rodriquez said the internship itself ended up providing an added polish to her personally and professionally.
“Through the career readiness courses, I was able to truly find my strengths and use them accordingly every day, whether at work or at home,” Rodriquez said. “I also came to realize it's okay not to play a huge role in a project but your contribution will also be well appreciated in the end. Remember that even the little work you put in pays off in the end. It gives that project the boost it needs for the showcase.”