My summer communications internship at Salus University just so happens to be during the middle of the university’s founding college, Pennsylvania College of Optometry, celebrating its 100th year anniversary. For this year, the university’s goal is to acknowledge the university’s legacy through stories and photos. With centennial highlights featuring notable Alumni faculty and staff members, the Salus University Centennial Campaign focuses on ensuring that students will not only succeed in the classroom, but also thrive within their profession after graduating.
The goal within the university’s communications department is to not only promote the school, particularly since changing its name from the Pennsylvania College of Optometry to Salus University in 2014, but also to raise awareness of the university’s century of tradition in health education. As an intern, my responsibilities are to communicate this goal to the Salus community by writing articles, creating emails, finding journalists for press releases, researching how the university can improve its advertising as well as giving constructive criticism and feedback. I have used various online programs for creating mock up emails, researching, and assessing audience engagement.
From Monday through Friday, I sit in my cubicle from 9 to 3 working on the task I’m assigned for that day. In addition to actually completing the task, I research communication and marketing terms that I’m unfamiliar with. Some terms pop up that I remember learning about in previous courses. “Click-through-rate” or “CTR” was a term that showed up in the email marketing software program. That was a term I actually memorized in my Digital Analytics & Reporting course that I took last semester. I got a C+ in that class, but hey I’m applying something I learned from school to a job which is what being an internship is all about! That’s what matters, right? Besides getting the internship credit to graduate.
Throughout the last semester, aside from working as a food runner on the weekends and studying for finals, I was applying to internships related to my major: advertising. I applied to advertising internships as well as marketing, communications, digital media and public relations internships within the Philadelphia area. To give an estimate, I applied to around 20 internships. Checking my email daily, there were no responses. However, I had one interview. “We would like someone with a bit more writing experience,” was the company’s response in an email four days after the interview.
On the last days of taking finals and my apartment lease ending soon, I started applying to regular part-time jobs back at home. I wasn’t getting any responses from the many internships that I applied to, so that meant possibly going back home to work during the summer. Maybe slightly discouraged, I knew what was meant to be for the summer was meant to be; I’ll have another fun summer at home with my friends in the mountains and lakes of New Hampshire or I’ll have a completely different summer being in a great city while taking a step forward in my career path. It was still a 50-50 chance of my summer going either direction since I just had one interview and didn’t necessarily receive “nos” from the other internships that I applied for. I was fine with either place that I would be during the summer, as both locations had their own pros. Thinking I would be going home, I received an email from the General Communications Internship at Salus University that I had applied for. They asked to do a phone interview. On a Wednesday afternoon, I waited for the phone call.
An internship in Philly is what my summer ended up being. What felt like a last minute change of thought was the direction I needed to go in; get my internship credit this summer and gain experience within my career field. “Do you like your internship?” is the main question I get asked by my family members and peers. I don’t have a straightforward response because I’ve never done an internship before so there are no other internships to compare it to and I don’t know how internships are supposed to be. This is my first internship; I’m learning about the organization that I’m in, learning more about what communications involves, and learning what I like based on the tasks that I’m assigned. That’s what an internship is all about: experiencing and learning new things in the career field that you’re in. Like many professors say to their students about doing internships: you get out what you put in. So if you were to ask me if I like my internship, I would say that I like where I’m headed in my career.