By Hannah Bailey

*Stream of consciousness the night before I started my internship*

“So, if I leave at 8:06 a.m. I can catch the 8:18 a.m. train, and that leaves time to get coffee before I go in, unless there’s a train delay, then I won’t get coffee.”

“They told me to sign in at the desk and wait for them in the lobby, so don’t try to walk right into the office and make a fool of yourself by assuming you have more authority than you actually do.”

“I hope they don’t ask me questions I don’t know the answer to, but I really hope I learn things because otherwise I’m going to graduate in a year and know nothing.”

“What if my boss turns out to be really mean or doesn’t like me…but she seemed really nice in the interview so I’m sure it will be okay.”

“Alright, settle down, if you don’t stop now you’ll have bags under your eyes tomorrow and everyone will know you as the zombie intern for the rest of the summer.”

“Stop. Stop thinking. It’s time for sleep now. Just count sheep or something. 1 sheep, 2 sheep, 3 sheep….”

I had already had three internships before I began my role as marketing intern at Patient Innovation Center, a healthcare startup in the West Loop, this summer. I had been in PRSSA since I was a freshman and interning since I was a sophomore, so I understood the expectations of this kind of work. And most importantly, I knew the first day drill; what to say, who to ask and what to have prepared. However, that didn’t stop my head from spinning in circles the night before I started with the million worries we always have before beginning a new job. Because new will always be scary, and the field of public relations and communications is so vast, every experience you have within it is sure to come with a whole new set of challenges to overcome and skills to learn.

A few of these said challenges and skills include:

  • #1: How to get millennials to care about healthcare
    • Solution: Use Pokémon Go and social media to remind millennials that healthcare is important
  • #2: How to run an organization’s social media
    • Solution: Use a target-directed tone, incorporate a ton of graphics, schedule all your posts through Hootsuite, and try your best to not use puns (even though it’s really hard and you just have to sometimes)
  • #3: How to find the bathroom
    • Solution: Just ask. However, when in doubt, it’s probably down the hall and to the left
  • #4: How to make sure you are learning as much as you can
    • Solution: Always ask if there is more you can do and always do more than you are asked. Your boss will notice, and that is what turns a good intern into a memorable intern

Throughout college, some people will tell you to look for the best and shiniest internship–the one you have your last semester or two at the biggest agency in town. But my communication professors, as well as PRSSA, taught me early that’s just not the case. It’s about learning as much as you can in as many different ways as possible before you graduate. And that means interning at a publicity office for a movie marketing agency, on a communications team for business networking firm, assisting in PR for a mental illness awareness nonprofit and creating marketing material for a small healthcare startup. Seeking variety in your work is what helps you become truly prepared for your next opportunity.

So, the morning of my first day at Patient Innovation Center, when I left my apartment at 8:06 a.m. and caught the 8:18 a.m. train, when the train sat at the Fullerton stop for 10 minutes and I had to skip my coffee run, when I signed in and patiently waited in the lobby for my boss, when they taught me what the acronyms they were saying meant and how to boost Facebook posts, and when my boss kindly answered every question I had, I exited the building at the end of the day not even thinking about the bags under my eyes. I was too busy thinking, “I can’t wait to do this again tomorrow.”

 

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