Today is the last day of summer internship. For the past four months, I’ve worked for Virginia Tourism Corporation in the Communications and Public Relations department. Although I know the company as VTC, you might know of it as “Virginia is for Lovers”. This acclaimed and world-famous slogan is one of the top 10 tourism brands worldwide and sits among other famous organizations in the Madison Avenue Advertising Walk of Fame.
If you’re a fan of The Bachelorette, my company worked with the franchise to host the show during Becca Kufrin’s season!
Simply put, I loved going to work every day this summer and have learned just as much, if not more at my internship than I do in my classes. I’ve shared bits and pieces about my internship on my Instagram and I’ve received a ton of requests from readers to share about my experience, but I wanted to soak up every second of my time at VTC before dishing to you.
I started my internship on my first day of summer. Every day since, minus a few here and there for vacation, I have spent at VTC in my little cubicle. I thoroughly loved my internship this summer. Frankly speaking, I learned so much about public relations and was able to put my knowledge to practice from May to August. Not only that, but the communications team was so incredible. They were always willing to teach me, answer my questions, extend an invitation, or give me a chance to put my skills to use.
Along with loving being in the office everyday, working in public relations comes working events. As we celebrated the 50th anniversary of Virginia is for Lovers, the communications team had plenty of opportunity to get out of the office. We hosted media events at Richmond’s Main Street Station, we traveled to local welcome centers around the state to chat with tourists and even got away for a few days at the luxurious L’Auberge Provencale for a team retreat and FAM tour of the area. I also got to model for the online merch store and wrote an article for a local publication that ended up getting published!
My day to day went something like this…
Get to work, check my email, make a cup of tea, environmentally scan local and national industry news, compile a staff wide email regarding said news, log all earned media from previous day. Then go to a meeting, respond to emails, work work work on a project whether it be a press release, itinerary, influencer research or an article. Enjoy a working lunch, send out afternoon industry leads to partners. Work on another project to give my mind a break from the previous project, answer emails, and just like that the days over. It’s crazy how quick or how slow a day can go depending on your inbox. To do lists ran my life this summer and honestly, I wouldn’t have it any other way!
I’m a firm believer that everyone needs to complete as many internships as possible before college graduation. Why you might ask? For starters, it gives you a taste of what your major in college has been training you for. You’ll find out if you love or hate what you’re studying in one short summer. Class is full of hypotheticals and grand ideas but when you have your “boots on the ground” so to speak, you learn how to tailor your strengths to one entity — whatever it may be. You might learn how to operate in a lab for testing cures for a specific disease, or learn how a day to day shift of a 12 hour nursing shift is really like. For me, I learned how to tailor my personal voice and writing style to match that of a major, statewide corporation. It’s much easier to do in a classroom. The real challenge is taking that broad knowledge and pinpointing it for a specific purpose.
Second, an internship is a learning opportunity. Your team knows your learning and it’s the time to ask questions, sit in on meetings, and try things over and over again until you get it right. You should always perform to your highest abilities and go above and beyond on any project, however internships are the time to ask “I’m confused as to why we do this, could you explain?” or “I haven’t learned this yet, could you give me some pointers?”. Take this stretch of time to ask the questions. After graduation, the time for asking questions is over. Employers want to see that your degree fully trained you to take on the role in a major corporation, hospital or lab. Take notes on everything you don’t understand, and save all of the projects you work on!
Internships are also the time to do as much as possible. I say save your projects you complete because as you work at your internship, you are curating a resume of capabilities and skills that many others in your field at your age don’t have yet. For me, when I start applying to jobs in a few weeks, I can have every employer a folder of at least 20 projects I worked on throughout the summer that the person next to me might not have.
Another reason why internships are so important because they establish a routine in your summer. At 20 years old, I can’t sit home and do nothing. I would go out of my mind crazy if I sat and twiddled my thumbs all summer. It’s important to understand what having a corporate job is like. I mean, this is the next 40 years of my life. If was thrown into this post-grad without warning I would have been a little shocked. I know in the spring, having a 40 hour a week office job will help make the transition a lot easier. Also, after four months of every day business casual, my BC wardrobe is pretty strong. I know my readers loved seeing them on Instagram each morning 😊.
After 15 weeks, I’ve learned so much about what I’m capable of and about my field. I’m really excited to take this knowledge back to school with me tomorrow and look forward to working on a few projects with VTC throughout the school year.