In the era of virtual collaboration, this internship was not only a standard learning experience, but a unique opportunity to thrive in a remote setting. As students in mass communications and public relations from the University of South Carolina and the University of Central Florida post-pandemic, we faced the unique challenge of navigating school and work environments virtually every day. From virtual team meetings for different projects to online college courses, we mastered not only the traditional skills of time management, planning, communication and problem-solving but also embraced the nuances of remote teamwork. Join us as we delve into our remote internship adventure at Poston Communications, providing insight into the skills we gained as they shaped our internship and more.
During our internship at Poston Communications, one of the most valuable skills we gained was time management. In the dynamic world of public relations, where deadlines are often tight and priorities can shift rapidly, mastering the art of time management became essential for success. The initial eagerness to take on every task without considering time blocking is easy to do. However, experience in time blocking is a crucial aspect of time management. Designated time slots for specific tasks and client work increase your productivity and allow you to allocate sufficient time to each project, reducing rushed and sloppy work. Cultivating our time management skills at Poston Communications has proven invaluable for our internship and beyond the realm of public relations.
Planning and Prioritizing
Furthermore, mastering planning and prioritizing tasks extends beyond time management. This internship has provided us with a unique opportunity to dive into the fast-paced world of public relations where planning and prioritization are indispensable skills.
The necessity of planning became evident as we worked on diverse projects, ranging from drafting press releases to coordinating with journalists and clients on stories. We quickly realized that a well-thought-out plan is the backbone of successful public relations campaigns. Whether it was developing a comprehensive media list or outlining a pitch, the importance of meticulous planning became apparent in every aspect of our work.
Moreover, the need for prioritization became clear as we navigated through various responsibilities. In the fast-paced world of public relations, not every task carries the same weight or urgency. Learning to discern the critical from the important and allocating our time accordingly became a crucial skill.
The practical application of planning and prioritizing skills extended beyond project management. It influenced how we approached communication, collaboration and problem-solving within the team. We learned that effective planning and prioritizing fosters a proactive mindset. Prioritizing tasks enabled us to maintain a focus on upcoming deadlines, contributing to the overall efficiency and success of the team. From the beginning, we were immersed in a dynamic environment where juggling multiple tasks and deadlines was the norm. Being able to foster planning and prioritization skills at Poston Communications will continue to serve us in navigating the complexities of the public relations world.
Effective communication is a vital component of success at a public relations internship. In our line of work, it is important to frame our communication to match the audience receiving the message. The stylistic choices we use when speaking to journalists will differ from those that we use to communicate with clients or our coworkers. That said, there are some universal standards for effective communication that we must be mindful of. In every instance of communication, it needs to be frequent, accurate, holistic and concise.
- Frequency means that all necessary parties are properly informed of any updates or progress related to a project including the client, team members and journalists. Internally, team members need frequent communication to establish task responsibility, share media opportunities and keep track of all client work that is in progress.
- Accuracy is another aspect of public relations work that is vital to success. The information we share with journalists needs to be refined and professionally researched to truly highlight the expertise of our clients on emerging topics.
- Holistic communication is something that we value as an opportunity to see the big picture. For our clients, this may take the form of placement notifications that highlight how a publication placement supports their business development.
- Being concise is especially important when communicating with journalists. Some journalists will get hundreds of emails a day and seeing an email filled with large blocks of text may dissuade them from reading further even if you have an intriguing idea to pitch. It is best to include the most important information about the client’s expertise, the topic and speaking points while offering the journalist more information if the pitch sparks their interest.
Teamwork in a Professional Setting
Knowing how and when to rely on your team members is a crucial skill to have, especially in a remote workplace. It can be easy to seclude yourself from the group when you aren’t in an environment where you are physically together. However, one of the first things we noticed about Poston is their valiant effort to bring the team together throughout the week. We have daily meetings that allow us to collaborate and ask each other for assistance on tasks.
We have found that when it comes to teamwork in a professional setting, sometimes as an intern it can be scary to use your voice. However, an important skill we have learned during our internship at Poston is that because you might be the youngest in the room, your insight on a topic is even more unique. You never know what skills people can bring to the table and it’s important to remain confident.
At the beginning of the internship, the three of us interns decided to make our own Teams chat, which has been used as a place of collaboration and questions. This allowed us to be able to go to peers for questions before asking our fellow coworkers, which was very helpful. Having something like this in the early days of an internship can be particularly beneficial because you tend to be more comfortable asking those “stupid questions” to those going through a similar experience as you. This chat turned into a progress check on various tasks we were working on as a group and even shared moments of humor on days when we were having struggles.
Taking initiative can be a particularly difficult skill to overcome as an intern. However, these initiatives don’t always have to be as big as we think. There are many “smaller” ways we can take initiative throughout our work experience such as listening to feedback attentively. This was one of the greatest skills we have learned in the past four months and have been told it has been one of the greatest assets as an intern. When actively listening to the feedback you receive, it allows you to take initiative on your next tasks and solve the issues that were once present.
In terms of problem-solving, these two can go hand-in-hand. Critical thinking is a highly valuable problem-solving skill that we have grown in our time at Poston. As we have learned more about the work that we do, we have been able to solve problems in situations that we previously needed external help with. These skills come with time, but being able to evaluate information objectively has made us much stronger professionals.
As we conclude the fall semester of our internship at Poston Communications, we carry with us experiences and skills that go beyond traditional coursework. The lessons we learned in time management, planning, communication, teamwork and problem-solving will serve as guiding principles in our future endeavors in the dynamic field of public relations as we continue at Poston and onward. Our remote internship has been a chapter of growth, resilience and insights, and we look forward to applying these lessons as we continue our journey in the world of mass communications and public relations.
Brianna Loewke is a senior mass communications major at the University of South Carolina.
Morgan Liotti is a senior public relations major at the University of South Carolina.
Leila Medina is a senior advertising and public relations major from the University of Central Florida.