Small Town Dreams Lead to Big City Opportunities
“The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” — Franklin D. Roosevelt.
Fear. It’s a word to describe an inescapable, unexplainable emotion — something everyone can relate to.
My greatest fear is time. When I think about the concept of time and how fast it flies by, I immediately feel a wave of horror, because I don’t want to miss out on anything. I don’t want to have any regrets.
And this is where Mr. Roosevelt’s quote steps in.
Instead of letting your fear overcome you, turn your fear into your motivation – your drive for success. To overcome my fear of time, I’ve learned that I need to make the most of the time I do have. I want to have stories to tell, experiences to share and knowledge to gain.
The Internship Search
I decided I needed to go out and find an internship away from home for the summer. I plan to graduate in May, which means I knew it would be my last summer before the real work begins. I wanted to make the most of it, building myself as a person and a public relations professional. Most importantly, I wanted to do it on my own, in an entirely new place with endless opportunities.
I’ve lived my entire life in small towns. I graduated high school with a class of less than 100 in a town with 3,000 people. I attend a university with only 8,000 students, where it feels like everyone knows each other.
So I applied to positions in big cities — New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Seattle, Portland. I wanted something outside of the Midwest. Something that wasn’t too close to home.
And I landed an internship in Dallas. I haven’t been to the South many times and I had never been to Texas prior to the internship. It was crazy, moving somewhere by myself for three months to a place I’d never been. However, Dallas will forever be on the top of my list when it comes to the best experiences in my life.
My internship was with FleishmanHillard (FH), a public relations agency with locations around the world. Dallas is one of the company’s largest offices, with clients including AT&T, General Motors and Google. The FH intern coordinators were outstanding and helped everybody immediately adjust to their positions.
The first two days at work consisted of orientation, to help us settle in and learn some of the programs we’d be using during the summer, including Sysomos and Cision. We also experienced the “big reveal,” where we learned which accounts would be our core and flex accounts.
My core account for the summer was Google. I was placed on the research and analytics team. My flex account, which was secondary, was General Motors (GM). The interns working on General Motors primarily helped with monitoring blog content about GM and its brands.
Throughout the course of the summer, I was granted so many amazing opportunities to work with a number of different companies aside from my core and flex accounts, including major energy companies, airlines, banks and even a few nonprofits.
In addition, working with the research and analytics team proved to be a great experience in itself. I had never considered working in that area of public relations, but I loved it. A lot of the work I did included building spreadsheets, decks (a simple term for PowerPoints) and plotting data on graphs. It was interesting to see how each company’s social media efforts worked and where they needed to improve. We also compared competitors and tried to grasp which efforts seemed to bring in the most amount of interaction on social media so that we could relay the information back to our clients.
While at the office, I learned how important it is to always be enthusiastic about your work. People love to work with you when they know you want to be there, so show them. Offer to help with projects you weren’t assigned. Reach out to other members who may not be on your team and see if they need help when you have free time. If you see a project you know how to do, let them know you’d be happy to work on it, even if it isn’t something assigned to you. All those small efforts go a long way, and people really appreciate it in the workplace.
This summer was an amazing experience. I learned so much and am forever thankful for the opportunity. Now it’s time for you to face your fears. I urge you to step out of your comfort zone, if given the chance. Make the most of the opportunities you have. You’ll learn so much from your experiences and you’ll have the time of your life. Life’s what you make it. Make it something to remember. And always remember – the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.
Katie Bultman is a senior public relations major at Northern Michigan University. She is the Chapter president of NMU PRSSA and an intern at Northern Initiatives. Follow her on Twitter @bultman_katie.