Internship Lessons Learned

For any new readers who may not be aware, I was fortunate enough to land my first internship a few months back for the duration of my winter session. When the new year finally rolled around, I was eager to get started with the Friends of High School Park and now I’ve finally had the chance to recap my amazing experience as an intern.

My time with the Friends was beyond useful and I can’t even begin to explain the wealth of knowledge I gained while working there. I genuinely enjoyed going to the office and looked forward to whatever assignments came my way. The office was such a great environment and I loved getting to know Diana and Gina, the two staff members in the office (Hi Diana and Gina, if you’re reading!). Both were so welcoming and taught me so much and I can’t begin to thank them for the opportunity they gave me.

I could type out everything I did everyday at the office but I have a feeling that would get long and boring so I’ll just give you a quick recap of some of the major projects I worked on.

The first flyer I created for the Annual Meeting
Flyer made for the Maple Sugaring Event
Banner I created for the Winter Warm Up
Certificate for an auction item at the Winter Warm Up

So as you can probably tell, a lot of my projects were designing various flyers and items of that nature. I became very friendly with Microsoft Publisher which I’ve found to be very valuable knowledge. However, in addition to these graphic design projects, I wrote 2 press releases and sent them out to press; one about the Friends’ annual meeting (for which I made the above flyer) and their newly elected board members and the second to spread the word about their upcoming event for the Winter Warm Up silent auction & dance party (if anyone is from the Philadelphia/Cheltenham area and interested in attending/learning more about the event, please feel free to contact me!). I also did your basic secretarial/organizational work like putting together sponsor folders for their biggest event (Arts in the Park), updating some excel sheets, sending out some emails and stuffing envelopes. In addition, I assisted with some of their social media in updating some things on the Facebook page, creating a Facebook event and sharing their fan page with my friends to increase awareness.

The amount of information I learned while working at FHSP is endless but I tried to put together a list of some of the most valuable things I learned. So here goes:

1. I really love working in nonprofit. I know I haven’t yet worked in for-profit so I can’t really compare it but there was something so great about working for an NPO. Maybe it’s just because High School Park is such a gorgeous, special place in my hometown and FHSP does incredible work to maintain it, but I felt so good about what I was doing. It was as though I was doing a small part in giving back to the community. I would definitely love to try out another NPO to get that feeling again but also test out a for-profit to see what that’s like.

2. How to write a press release. Okay, maybe that’s a bit of a lie. I didn’t technically learn that and for all I know, I did it completely wrong. I learned through trial and error which I’d say is a pretty good learning method! However, I did write two of them with the help of the internet and both were approved by my boss so I’d say I was pretty successful in teaching myself how to write a press release?

3. How to use Microsoft Publisher. This one I would say is definitely an achievement. When I started making my first flyer, I had no idea what I was doing but as I played around with it, I started getting the gist of this amazing tool (you can probably tell by the difference between my first and second flyers above). I think this will definitely be a handy resource in PR, especially if I decide to pursue the advertising minor and I’m glad to just have another useful skill under my belt.

4. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. After all, an internship is a learning experience and how will you ever learn if you don’t ask questions? At first I hesitated to ask questions when I was confused and would just try to figure things out alone which ended up taking more time than necessary. You don’t intern if you already know how to do everything so when you’re confused, ask your boss! It really helps to make the most of your opportunity.

5. How to use Excel. Excel is something I’ve truly always been scared of (is that crazy?). It just has so many gadgets and formulas and things I don’t understand. I certainly wouldn’t say I’m an Excel expert, but I definitely have a better understanding now. Gina is a whiz when it comes to Excel (and many other tools related to the computer) and she really guided me and helped me understand how to use the program which I know will be of great value in the future.

6. A bit about horticulture/meadows. Maybe this doesn’t relate to PR but I definitely think it’s a cool thing I learned! Diana is such an expert on the park and horticulture in general and it was so cool to overhear some of the meetings about various plant and animal species that thrive in the park.

7. How a small organization works. One of the coolest things was really just to observe how such a small organization gets stuff done. FHSP has only 2 staff members and besides that, survives with a board of directors, committees of volunteers and members who donate to support the organization. Throughout the day, Gina would make and receive various phone calls with the volunteers in order to keep things going and it was so amazing to see volunteers so passionate about FHSP.

That list doesn’t even begin to describe my incredible experience and I really can’t put into words all of the knowledge I gained from the organization, Gina and Diana, and all of the volunteers and board members I was fortunate enough to meet. High School Park and FHSP will forever hold a special place in my heart and I’m excited to announce that I will hopefully be helping them out again in the future! I’ve offered to do whatever I can from school and plan to help in last minute details for Arts in the Park.

Overall, I’m excited to have an internship in the book and moreover, one that I genuinely enjoyed, learned from and was able to actually get my hands dirty and do some real communications work!

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