An Internship (Mostly) From Home

Many students commute to the nearest big city from where they live to complete an internship. I was expecting to do the same, but then I was introduced to an agency called True Digital Communications, based out of Solon, Ohio, a Cleveland suburb. True Digital’s founder and principal, Chris Baldwin, told me he had grown tired of commuting and had set out to create his own place to work.

Fast forward, and I’m now a little over halfway finished with my summer internship at True. True employees can work from any location that has an Internet connection. Instead of commuting to an office every day, my commute is often only from my bed to my kitchen table. To switch it up, sometimes I work at local coffee shops around Kent, Ohio, where I live and attend school at Kent State University.

 

How We Connect

Despite not being in the same physical location, everyone sticks together at True. Every morning at 9 a.m. we have a team “huddle” video chat on Google+.  It’s an easy way to see everyone’s faces, learn what’s going on for the day, and pitch in when someone needs help. Once a week, the whole team meets in person at a northeastern Ohio coffee shop or restaurant. True team members do often meet for in-person meetings throughout the week, but we operate on the rule that everyone is only a phone call or Google+ chat away, and that’s one of True’s best characteristics. There’s no time lost on a commute.

As an intern, I was thrown into this world on my first day at one of the weekly in-person meetings. I met all of the team members, then I continued my week with True’s daily Google+ hangouts. Since then, I’ve learned about digital analytics, media lists, client research, blogging, Google Adwords, social media measurement and plenty of other indispensible tools for an aspiring public relations professional like me. I have a feeling True Digital Communications is part of a larger, very successful trend in the public relations field.

 

Look At All Internship Options – and How to Succeed

My advice to any students hunting for an internship is: Don’t count out any kind of internship. I’ve learned so much from mine. Thankfully, I entered my internship with no pre-conceived notions. Of course, it’s important to remember that I’m still interning at a real company doing real work for real clients. Just because my work is primarily digital doesn’t mean it’s any less important.

 

All PR internships require:

 

  • Personal discipline. At your internship, you get the chance to learn new skills and work on many different accounts. Make sure you do your best work.

 

  •  A willingness to work hard. Interns often get time-consuming projects. Look at what you’re learning and not how many hours you’re putting in. These experiences will help you as your career progresses.

 

  • Positive thinking. Interns should show a positive attitude to coworkers and colleagues, whether those people are in an office or on a computer screen.

 

An internship — whether traditional, nontraditional, or anywhere in between — is a very serious and exciting opportunity. Don’t pass one up just because it’s out of your comfort zone! You might be surprised at how much you learn and take with you to your first job out of school.

 

About the blogger

This is a guest post by Ryan Collins, a senior public relations student at Kent State University and True Digital Communications’ 2012 summer intern. He is next semester’s PRSSA Kent online media manager and was a participant in the PRSSA 2012 Bateman Case Study Competition. He loves to spend time with his boyfriend, travel and cook vegetarian food. Follow him on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/ryanscollins and check out his PR blog at http://www.smartblogged.wordpress.com

 

 What are your thoughts? Would you take an internship like this?

2 thoughts on “An Internship (Mostly) From Home

    • Author gravatar

      While I agree that any internship experience that provides learning and interacting with professionals is a good one, I don’t think that a model like this one (working from home) necessarily prepares students for the “real-world” atmosphere of a traditional office. During my internships as a college student, one of the most important things I got to experience was the day-to-day interaction between employees in an office setting. It’s the factor that is most different from attending college classes or even other part-time, minimum wage jobs most of us worked through college. Aside from client work and learning the ins and outs of agency PR, being in an office setting will teach skills that going from your bed to kitchen table will not.

      In an agency world, brainstorming and teamwork are paramount to client success. This particular agency may not have an office now, but I guarantee that, down the road, a brick-and-mortar location will be necessary for growth and collaboration. In the meantime, Ryan, I hope you seek internship experience with a company that has an office that can provide you with a more realistic picture of working in agency PR.

    • Author gravatar

      I actually semi agree with what Kate said. I took my first position out of college as an intern for a Social Media Consultancy and Digital PR Firm. However, I am glad that I do not have to have to sit at a desk from 9pm – 5pm or etc. I work longer hours usually, however I set them. I am up when I need to be up, I am on calls and meetings when I need to be. Like Ryan said, every Monday morning we have a weekly huddle and are in constant communication through out the week. I understand that brainstorming is a big deal and is essential as Kate referenced, however it works the same via skype and google+.

      I disagree with Kate in that she said it doesn’t prepare you for the “real world” atmosphere of a traditional office. Because this is a different type of office, I think it makes you more prepared for the “real-world” traditional office. This type of internship/job forces incredible self-discipline and aptitude for project management, time management, organizational skills, tracking skills and allows you the opportunity to work in multiple environments that can spark creativity from anywhere such as ex: what someone is wearing in Barnes & Noble to eating at McDonalds and a song initiates an idea.

      My boss works in NYC, our other employee is in Chicago and I am in NC. There have been no issues (including time zone differences) no deadlines have been missed, and the work is constant.
      I definitely agree that most likely there will be a physical or multiple offices that will take physical form in the future. When that time comes there will still be employees that will not work there. I think the model is a very effective and convenient way to garner some great talent that in other ways would not be able to move to a larger city, or live in an area that is remote but they have the desire, technology and skills to be just as effective as if they moved to Atlanta, Los Angeles, New York or some other larger city thriving with PR firms.

      I think it is a great design to have diversity in your employment and if someone needs the office structure to function then there is a place for them. If they can thrive on a more difficult environment that is propelled by self determination then they can be essential to the team. It also allows, companies to reach more clients in different markets and really add value to their work outside of their local area or a niche market.

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