It was the second semester of my junior year in college when I Googled “PR firm Frederick MD” in hopes of finding a summer internship.
Illumine8 Marketing & PR was the first link. I clicked on it and called the number at the footer of the website. My now-boss, Christina, answered the phone, and I gave her my elevator speech about who I was and what I was looking for.
Pleasantly surprised with my pitch, she offered me an interview during spring break. We talked about why I want to succeed, my experiences, and my education. She gave me a writing prompt that instructed me to construct a blog about how to determine the return on investment of social media for a small business.
These marketing buzzwords startled me, and I knew I had to do a lot of research over the next few days. I was earning a degree in journalism, which meant I had a lot of questions. What does social media have to do with public relations? What’s the difference between writing a blog and an article? Is it word count or tone? Do I interview people or cite references?
I submitted the completed writing prompt and was offered an Inbound Marketing Coordinator Internship. I found out that Christina was testing my writing abilities more than my marketing knowledge. She wanted a team member with an innate talent and passion for the craft, because the rest could be taught.
And it was.
The first week of my internship began with setting up my office computer and company email. Afterward, I watched HubSpot training videos to earn a handful of required certifications. After creating study guides, I took the tests and moved immediately onto client work.
To start, I wrote basic blog articles for long-term clients. During my first week, I also signed up for Help A Reporter Out and put together a generic media outline for future public relations efforts.
I learned actionable marketing tips like how to create killer headlines, incorporate SEO in blogs, and tailor tone and pain points to client personas.Within the first month, my responsibilities expanded. I edited and contributed to client content calendars, helped with events like a business card exchange and client “pool party”, and tackled whitepapers.
After three months of this internship, I went back to school in Pennsylvania. Christina offered me a part-time job as a junior content creator until I graduated in December. Post-graduation, I’d be a full-time team member. Looking back on the experience, the process of understanding inbound marketing was a learning curve that I was unprepared for as a budding journalist.
However, the stress of comprehending an entirely new concept was alleviated by the assistance of my more-experienced coworkers and Christina. The team atmosphere was an undeniable force that I truly appreciated as a college-student-turned-adult for the summer.
To complement the camaraderie (which included sushi and Cafe Bueno lunches, Starbucks runs, and occasional vegan donuts), I loved the flexible scheduling. During this particular summer, I also hostessed at a local restaurant and attended a 10-day family vacation, which kept me busy.
The ability to adjust my schedule and workload to fit my work style was incredible. I appreciate the benefit to this day, and it’s something that you don’t find at many of companies.
Overall, I learned a lot about marketing and the real world. This internship had nothing to do with getting coffee or walking the office dog (unless I wanted to). I was given personal responsibility with real client work from day one. I explored all facets of marketing, from content to event planning to strategy, to see where my skills fit best.
As soon as I walked into that downtown office, I was a part of a team and never felt like an intern. Illumine8 gave me the chance to learn, grow, and thrive as a writer, and I highly recommend this experience to anyone who’s passionate about finding that same opportunity.