What I Learned In My Internship That I Didn’t Learn in School
As I went through my undergraduate program at Grand Valley State University, I often heard from graduates that “everything you do for your job, you learn on the job.”
My program at GVSU offered me more information than I thought while hearing this constantly during my 4 years at school, but there are definitely aspects of my experience as an intern at RED66 Marketing that I learned in the workplace.
Writing in Brand Voice
As a public relations emphasis, I was always reminded of the importance of writing. As communications professionals in general, writing is a vital skill – especially in a digital world. In my position, I wrote for clients in various ways from blogs to website content to social media captions.
This meant I had to learn about each company and their personal voice that is being portrayed in their online presence. In the classroom, we are often critiquing brands or creating campaigns for them, but rarely do we step into the shoes of a client as I have done in my internship. To write in a brand’s voice, I learned that research is everything!
There is no better way to capture a company’s voice than browsing through their current online content. It usually takes a month or two to get a grasp on writing for a company, but that’s a skill I’m grateful to have gained while at RED66 Marketing.
There is no such thing as too much writing, improvement is the goal!
Email marketing is a prominent aspect in digital marketing so creating newsletters is a valuable skill to have. During my internship I learned how to use email marketing programs, such as Mailchimp and Constant Contact.
Both of these programs are user-friendly and similar to one another, but learning how to design and write for newsletters was a learning experience.
Newsletters need to be brief, informative, appealing to consumers and include all of the elements that the client wants. We learned about email marketing and what makes a great newsletter in classes, but we didn’t create them.
I encourage you to draft up newsletters in your spare time if you haven’t used these programs before, this skill won’t go unnoticed.
Project Management Programs
A classic to-do list will get the job done, I personally use the sticky notes app on my laptop everyday. But the beauty of project management programs was introduced to me at RED66 Marketing! In my previous internships, tasks were emailed to me or verbally given, so meeting Asana was a new experience for me.
For school, people utilize reminders, planners, BlackBoard (at GVSU specifically), but project management tools are rarely used. I learned how to assign tasks to others, how to collaborate on projects with coworkers and appreciate the organization that these programs can provide for an efficient workplace!
In a world that has more remote work than ever, project management programs are vital.
In one of my classes, we created WordPress portfolios, but nothing close to client work. I learned how to use plugins like Beaver Builder and Gravity Forms during my internship.
With the guidance and help of my team, I was able to quickly get comfortable with website management and even created aspects of client sites.
Websites can seem intimidating from the outside, but learning along the way is the best approach – practice won’t necessarily make perfect but it’s definitely beneficial.
Creating Social Media Themes
As students we often learn about the impact social media has in public relations, how to use it to your client’s advantage, etc. But we don’t learn how to create social media content.
Crafting social media content goes beyond understanding how to post on Instagram or Facebook, you need to know how to make appropriate and appealing messages for your client.
I learned how to gather inspiration from related industries of our clients, how to use Canva to make graphics that align with client goals, how to schedule social media posts in a timely manner and overall understand how to create a social media plan for a company.
These aspects of digital marketing are tough to learn in a classroom setting.
Asking for Help
In an educational setting, educators are constantly asking for questions and wanting engagement from students. In the workplace, everyone has their own task list to take care of so I learned that I need to ask questions whenever they arise – even when no one is asking if I need help. It can be intimidating to be an intern, especially if it’s your first internship.
You may not want to bother anyone or “look dumb” but questions are always welcome! Your supervisor wants you to feel comfortable asking for help and all that it will lead to is better work.
And when you’re out of tasks to do, ask for more! Don’t wait for your supervisor to know when your task list is empty, be proactive in asking.
I’m thankful to have had useful education from GVSU along with this internship at RED66 Marketing. I would have to say they compliment each other well and have both contributed to a positive experience and provided me with confidence in my future career path.