Now that I have transitioned from my summer internship into a full time position at Pinkston, I can’t help but look back with gratitude for the opportunities I’ve had over the past few months. Throughout college I was fortunate enough to intern in multiple industries and work with many great people, but I think I can speak on behalf of all of the summer interns when I say that the lessons and experiences I gained from Pinkston would not have been possible anywhere else.
From my experience, along with input from my fellow interns (Rhett, Mary, Gena, and Spencer -- we miss you!), I have highlighted my takeaways -- which may be beneficial to any intern:
1) Don’t Just Clean the Coffee Pot
On my first day at Pinkston, I remember being introduced to the office and immediately beginning to work with my team to craft messaging that would be emailed to print reporters on a client’s behalf. It was hard to believe that within my first 5 minutes at the office I was doing meaningful work under senior staff members for a large client. At that point I knew that my summer would consist of many challenging and new opportunities that would stretch my abilities and put myself in exciting situations.
While many internships can provide you with the “joys” of faxing paperwork and fetching coffee, seek an internship that will challenge you to utilize your skills and provide you with the opportunity to bring actual value to the company. Before he headed back to school, Zeke, my favorite Pinkston Digital intern (who I should also mention is a 14-year-old self-taught coder and web developer), showed me a few of the projects he worked on this summer. He had helped build client websites, moved sites to new servers and did website development work. If that’s not valuable intern experience, then I don’t know what is...and for the record, I don’t think it will be a surprise when we are all employed by Zeke in 20 years.
2) Don’t Be Afraid to Ask If the Snacks Are For Everyone, Among Other Questions...
I can guarantee that your internship experience will not be as rewarding or valuable as it could be if you don’t ask questions and seek challenges. Whether it is as simple as “are those snacks on the kitchen counter for everyone?,” or as daunting as asking your team if you can learn more about some of the additional projects for clients. I looked for the chance to broaden my experience and show that I was willing to take on new tasks… which is what every employer wants, right? Yes. (So far, it has worked out for me.)
3) Seek Out Your Vocational Identity
In college I had the opportunity to lobby on Capitol Hill for what was an important issue to me: increasing the volume of intern scholarships for college students in hopes of discovering vocational identity through financially feasible internships. Through this experience, I learned that the greatest benefit of taking part in an internship is having the chance to determine whether or not what you are doing aligns with what you want your career to look like after college.
Through my internship, I was able to confirm that Pinkston was doing something that I wanted to continue to be a part of after I graduated. Truthfully, some of the other interns this summer discovered that the PR world was not for them… and that is okay! They still worked hard and their experiences gave them perspectives that will serve them wherever they end up. It is much better to learn these lessons while still a student in college, rather than after you have received your degree and settled into a job that you thought you would love. You don’t have to love your internship, but the experience will ensure you end up in a career that you do love.
4) A Great Office Environment is Key to Great Work
I would be hard pressed if you told me to find an office that works more effectively or efficiently than Pinkston, but I believe that is only because of the office culture that surrounds the time around our hard work. Thanks to company picnics, the occasional afternoon set aside for board games, karaoke outings, a fully-stocked fridge & snack corner, and cozy couches placed conveniently around the office, the environment easily makes it possible to stay relaxed and productive. Not to mention, the family-like atmosphere also makes it conducive to collaborating with others in the office because it’s easy to work with people that you enjoy being around. And, of course, there is Kona, our office dog. She has the best work ethic in the office.
Hunter McKay is the marketing manager at Pinkston, Inc. Stay updated on all Pinkston content by following us on Twitter (@Pinkston_co).