Hey y'all, it's Mary Kate the Marketing and Outreach intern! As the semester comes to a close and my final days at AETN are nearing, I thought I would do one more blog post reviewing my time at AETN. As I hunted for internships before I was finally chosen for this one at AETN, I realized just how important internships are to the professional development of college graduates. Not only do internships let students apply what we've learned in classes, they give us real-world experience without actually having a job. The other advantage is that the people students work with during internships give a very different perspective to a job field than teachers do.
Of course, both points of view are very important and beneficial but, sometimes, hearing advice from someone you don't see every day is helpful. Also, to all college students: we are at the best and weirdest point in our lives professionally. We have the unique opportunity to call up a company and say, “I want to work with you and learn from you, and all it will cost you is some time and a little bit of energy.” Basically, it comes down to being a sponge during your internship because the people who are older than us and more experienced professionally have plenty of advice and teaching to offer.
Okay, getting off my soapbox. Here are just a few survival tips and lessons I've learned in my time at AETN:
Don't ever wear a maxi skirt near an office chair. It WILL get tangled up and it WILL be embarrassing.
There is a legendary, never-ending photo archive-scanning project in the Marketing and Outreach department, and they will ask you to help with it. Feel free to come up with other projects, but if you do end up working on it it's super relaxing after a tough day at school. It will make you feel productive!
Get a notebook and dedicate it to this internship ASAP. Over the course of a semester, I've filled about 100 pages of a notebook with notes with the plethora ($10 word for y'all) of knowledge around AETN. You're going to want to take notes from this bunch. Trust me.
In my experience in the Marketing and Outreach department, they have a you-make-what-you-want-out-of-it internship, which I'm discovering is a little bit rare in the world of internships. Sure, they will give you the legendary, never-ending photo archive-scanning project (seriously, I want to shake the hand of the intern who finishes it in 20 years) to help out with. But, for the most part, if you want to actually gain anything from this internship you have to be motivated and go ask what can be worked on. They will happily give you plenty to do because they understand that your job as an intern is to learn.
Those four survival tips don't begin to cover what I learned through my internship at AETN, though. I learned valuable skills that are really going to help me in my (quickly approaching) professional life! Here are just a few examples:
To the next AETN marketing intern: come prepared with some blog ideas, because they love it when you do blogs! (It will help you and your new department – wins for everyone involved.) I was able to write a short blog series about the PBS Digital Studios channels called “Between the Bytes,” and it was a fantastic experience. Through writing the blog series, I was able to get in some quality portfolio pieces and learn a little bit about the way a blog works and the style of writing in a blog just in a few short months. (It's already helping me out in interviews for my next internship.)
As an intern, I also was able to work on a few design projects with the “Dream Land: Little Rock's West 9th Street” documentary that came out during my time at AETN. With the “Dream Land” documentary, I was able to do research that helped the department and was able to help publicize the documentary.
Another project I worked on – that was perhaps my most well rounded project – was the AETN Value website (check it out at aetn.org/value), which shows the value of AETN as a television station and an education entity. This project has given me experience in writing, research and a brief foray into the organization behind building websites.
Initially, I wasn't sure that interning with AETN would be the perfect kind of experience I needed given my hopeful future profession of writing for a magazine. But, if there is any question about whether you should take an internship with AETN, put it out of your mind and do it. I promise you'll learn something valuable.