Learning the Value of Diverse Skills

I began my internship at PA CareerLink in December 2012. I went in once a week for orientation and getting used to the workplace before I officially began in January. Before acquiring the position, I went in for an interview with my current supervisor, Mr. John Casella. In that interview, I placed a lot of emphasis on why the computer, media, and advertising skills that I possessed would make me a valuable addition to the workplace. Advice from teachers has taught me that after being asked “What is your proficiency in the skill of X?” to respond with “Not only am I capable of X but also Y and Z!” I was so keen to impress my interviewer with my plethora of skills, I didn’t take a step back and realize I could accidentally back myself into a corner of “only capable of a certain range of work.” Working in an office has taught me to be flexible and jump at the chance of being asked to accomplish a task you had never considered before.

My official title at PACL is “social media intern” and I take my online responsibilities seriously. The whole reason that I was brought into the workplace was to contribute to the social media strategy that my team was attempting to put together, and then personally monitor, update, and report on our Facebook and Twitter progress. One of my tasks, for example, was to put together a graphic that could be easily modified and pasted onto PACL’s flyers and calendars to make members aware of our online presence. I made three drafts of the graphic, one of which I attached.

Going into the internship, I expected to work with graphics and creating content such as “Invite your Facebook friends to ‘like’ PA CareerLink® Philadelphia to get our full range of online services! Workshop schedules, job posting alerts, and informative articles are a few of the many benefits we offer.” That is an example of the multiple status updates that I post throughout the week. One of our “social media strategy” goals is to keep our posts consistent and interesting in hopes of creating a reliable online presence.

However, the more I worked at the office and became comfortable with my surroundings, the more often I was being asked to perform additional tasks when I had finished my designated workload. I began to realize that staying at a desk all day was hardly any way to show your supervisors what you’re capable of. I gladly accepted any task, in hopes of getting more from this experience. For example, during an overcrowded “Digital Literacy” workshop, Mr. Casella asked if I could step in and help him assist PACL members to set up usernames and passwords for their own email account. It was a simple enough task, going around the room and clearing up confusion about why certain information had to be provided or what constituted a proper password. However, I was able to demonstrate to my supervisor that my people skills were a useful asset. I was also able to prove my efficiency in large-scale tasks when me and the other social media intern, Alison, were responsible for inputting hundreds of email addresses from workshop sign-in sheets into well-organized Excel sheets. I went through stacks of sheets a day, always letting Mr. Casella know that I was ready to do more.

I have certainly developed in the month and a half of working twice a week at PA CareerLink. Initially I was apprehensive that I would sit at a desk all day with nothing but the occasional Facebook “like” or update to accomplish. Now I know that as long as I market myself properly and make people aware of my versatility, I can move up in the workplace. I can swear to this personally because just last week, Mr. Casella informed me that his department wants to bring me on as a paid, part-time employee for the remainder of my time there! I will have a few more responsibilities in addition to the social media updates that I will be informed of soon, but I look forward to the challenge. I’m extremely excited to have already “moved up” in my first experience in a workplace, and I can testify that it is because I showed a diversity of skills instead of a bunch of knowledge in a single category.

One comment

  1. Erin,

    First off, congratulations on earning a part-time paid position at your internship! That’s such an awesome accomplishment. I can really relate to what you said about showing your drive and versatility in the workplace; it is definitely the way to get noticed and approached about taking on additional tasks and responsibilities. I currently have an internship at a Philadelphia radio station that has three other stations in its cluster. Even though I’m studying to be a copywriter, my internship position is in the advertising sales department here. While I have enjoyed learning about the other side of advertising, I really wanted to get some copywriting experience here as well. I actively voiced this to my managers and co-workers, and before I knew it I was meeting with some of the station’s creatives and setting up meetings with copywriters from our sister stations. I think you’ve given some valuable advice here that any intern can either relate to or learn from. Good luck during the rest of your time at CareerLink!

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