By: Cailyn McCutcheon, Strategic Planning Chair
I had big plans for this summer. I applied and I interviewed and when summer arrived, I had two offers for two promising internships in Philadelphia. But with the financial uneasiness of an unpaid internship over my head, I decided against the commute and the cost of working unpaid in the city. Instead, I’ve spent these last few months living at the beach in Delaware and working at an organic grocery store and gluten-free cafe.
As I packed my bags, rather defeated I might add, I began to explore the internship opportunities that might be possible in my new home of Ocean View, Delaware. I searched for jobs in public relations and in advertising. I contacted digital marketing firms to see if they needed help for the summer. And with no luck in those fields, I dove into the list of local newspapers to the area and reached out to the editors. I finally landed a job in editorial with Coastal Point Newspaper as one of four of the editorial interns for the summer and the only one not a journalism major.
I operate as a freelance reporter. On a weekly basis, either my editor gives me stories to research and write or I find the stories to write myself. I sit in on the editorial budget meetings and listen to the banter between veteran reporters as they discuss possible stories for the week. I contact business owners, authors, organization directors and draft my stories for my editor. In one summer, I have grown exponentially as a writer because of the talent of the other reporters I bear witness to each week. I may not ever have a career as a journalist, but by surrounding myself by those that are in the field, I believe I will be better in my own field of public relations. This summer, I learned how to think like a journalist.
So, what can I say about this unconventional summer internship experience? My advice is this: finding experience is not as hard as you think. Be creative. I love to write, and I know that as a public relations major, I have to be an exceptional writer and communicator. And now, when I search for my next internship, I have several published pieces of writing to show to my employers. I also have a story to tell of how I capitalized on the opportunity I could find this summer and have worked as hard if not harder than my journalistic counterparts. I had deadlines to meet and editors to impress all the while balancing a full-time job as a cafe server. I have more than enough of a story to sell when I apply for internships again next summer. Be mindful of your opportunities and get creative, and you’ll make it just fine.