I used to be an education major so when I switched to advertising, although I love it, I missed having the chance to work with kids. For this reason, I was really excited when I saw an email come through last semester about a marketing internship with the Philadelphia Virtual Academy, a part of the School District of Philadelphia. This passion came through in my interview and I got the position. Once the new year rolled around and I got started, I was disappointed to find that as the marketing intern, there wasn’t really much of a chance to interact with the students. I could post daily on social media and our new blog, and sometimes they would even respond to these, but never in a way that made me feel as if they were excited about my posts. There was a disconnect, and I was determined to lessen this in order to get the kids as excited as I was. But how do you get a group of middle and high schoolers excited about anything school-related? Regardless of how relevant my blog posts were to their lives, they didn’t feel like any of it could be “cool” because it came from their school. So I talked to Dave, the PVA administrator and my internship coordinator, about this problem, and we agreed that it might be beneficial for me to get involved outside of the realm of advertising so I could get to know the students and they could put a face to the anonymous “PhillyVirtual” posts. Kevin, another marketing intern, had the opportunity to sit in on a Writing Club meeting in the Virtual Office, where the students’ classes are held. Through this, he learned a little about the process and the daily activities of the students, but not much about the students themselves. We had more success when we had the opportunity to meet them in person by chaperoning a field trip to the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. This was a trip that a lot of the kids were really excited about, so it was great to meet them in person and share in their enthusiasm for the trip. Later on I did a blog post with details and pictures from the trip and I found that the kids were much more active in response to the corresponding tweets and Facebook posts. The students that I met on this trip are now more active on the blog as well. I will be continuing with PVA for another couple of weeks and I hope to have the chance to go on more field trips and interact with more students so that by the time I leave, the students are more interested in the blog and social media.
Through this experience, I learned that it is important to extend yourself beyond the job description and always look for more ways to get involved. The more you know about the business itself and its audience, the more helpful you can be as an advertising intern. Sometimes this may be limited simply to doing some extra research and asking more questions, but if you have the chance to get involved even more like I did with the school, I would never pass up this opportunity!