Lessons Learned by a Stratacomm Intern

I’ve interned at Stratacomm’s Washington, D.C. office for about seven months. At this point, it’s in my personality to reflect: to take a moment and do a gut-check. As I self-assess, I’ve come to realize that interning at Stratacomm has taught me much more than I set out to accomplish when I accepted the position in January. Internships, like many things in life, are what you make of them. And Stratacomm gave me the chance to make the most of every opportunity:

  1. Time is of the essence: The intern experience is a concentrated amount of time packed with challenges and opportunities. I’ve told myself to be proactive and always look for new ways to get my hands dirty. Earlier this spring, my plate was about as full as it could get. I was set to attend two client events in a matter of a few weeks in addition to graduating college by the end of the month. Still, I approached one of our account directors about how I could help with an upcoming media tour event for the 2017 Nissan GT-R. She brought me along to work hands-on with the Nissan team and members of the media. I can now say that I was involved in the entire process of planning to execution of the event, a unique experience that I would not have had without the mentorship and opportunity to be integrated into a Stratacomm client team.
  2. Value your harshest critic: Criticism isn’t easy to hear, even for the most seasoned professional, but it is crucial in order to grow. At a small firm like Stratacomm, I work one-on-one with multiple managers, which affords the time for us to discuss my successes and mistakes. On multiple occasions, they have taken time out of their days to schedule trainings with me. Having had no previous experience in PR, my introduction to this position involved a great deal of trial-and-error. I’ve become very familiar with hearing the phrase, “Let’s take time to sit down and go over this,” and this has been key in my learning process at Stratacomm. My willingness to learn has always been met with a willingness to teach.
  3. Ask smart questions: I was given a strong piece of advice by one of my managers, Account Supervisor Maggie Easterlin. One day, I found myself politely apologizing for asking her what must have been 10 questions in a short span of time. To my surprise, Maggie immediately told me to never do it again. “One of the best things you can do as an intern is ask questions,” she told me firmly. She went on to explain that in many situations, from interviews to client meetings, smart questions are a sign of mindfulness and forward thinking. Sometimes a thoughtful question is more valuable than an answer.
  4. Leave a mark: I arrived at Stratacomm with previous internship experience in social media management. I was able to bring an arsenal of tools and editing strategies to the table and refine my own skills while improving Stratacomm’s existing strategies. Then after working for months on Stratacomm’s social media accounts, I was given the chance to formally present my work to the staff. The presentation was a tangible representation of my hard work, which did a great deal to boost my confidence while giving me great professional experience that I can speak to in the future.

Hard work doesn’t necessarily guarantee success when it comes to internships. Most are familiar with the stereotypical “intern” tasks like making coffee runs and refilling printers. This is all hard work, of course, but having the opportunity to cultivate new skills and encounter challenges is what really helps an intern to grow. I found myself surrounded by an exceptional group of professionals who encouraged me to take risks and mentored me along the way, and this was the key to making my internship at Stratacomm an invaluable success.

Michelle Rosinski is a communications intern in Stratacomm’s Washington, D.C. office.

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