As my internship draws to a close, I want to reflect on a few of the lessons I’ve learned at Sabo PR – the biggest being the importance of relationship building.
Prior to my time at SPR, I didn’t have a lot of experience working directly with clients. After being given this opportunity, I’ve found that the work becomes so much more meaningful after chatting with a client and getting to know their and their organization’s story.
I’ve especially loved meeting with the leaders from two local nonprofits: Better, Wiser, Stronger, Inc. and Guiding Light. Better, Wiser, Stronger works to build the confidence of urban male youth, while Guiding Light provides addiction recovery and other programs. Both nonprofits are spearheading initiatives to make the Grand Rapids area a more equitable, diverse and inclusive place, and seeing firsthand how our work positively impacts their organizations is incredibly rewarding.
I’ve also enjoyed working with Sarah Branson, a retired midwife who just embarked on her career as an author. Not only is Sarah an amazing client to work with, but she’s also a terrific writer. I’ve read her first two novels and even got to be an early reviewer for one of them – both books left me on the edge of my seat!
In addition to relationship building, I’ve also learned:
- AP Style may take a lifetime to learn: I thought I had AP style nailed down after a year at my student newspaper – was wrong. After looking through edits on a variety of press releases, I’ve learned that there are some AP style rules I didn’t even know existed. Mary Ann later told me that “AP style takes a lifetime to learn – and then some.” I hope I’ll master its extensive set of rules sooner than that, but only time will tell.
- Give back to the community: I’ve learned the importance of giving back during your career. Despite already being knee-deep in work for paying clients, Mary Ann always makes room for pro-bono work – especially when it revolves around helping to make Grand Rapids a better community. She also works to mentor young people – like myself – in the early stages of their career. Regardless of what the future holds, I want to help others in a similar way and work to make my community a better place.
- Put yourself out there: It’s crazy to think it was just over a year ago when I took a shot in the dark by emailing every PR firm in Grand Rapids. I was looking to make connections in the field, and although a majority didn’t answer my request for an informational interview, Mary Ann did. Needless to say, stepping outside of your comfort zone is hard, but sets you up for future success. At the end of the day, all you really need is that one “yes.”
- Keep an open mind: I like to use internships as opportunities to experiment and find what I do/don’t like. Despite our preconceived notions, it’s important to give everything a try – you just may surprise yourself. I always thought I was bad at design, and while I’m not great, I’m not as intimidated by it as I once was thanks to SPR.
- Edits make you a better writer: Despite how intimidating a page full of edits may seem, I’ve found that going back and fixing my mistakes have made me a better writer.
When I return to Marquette University for my final year, I’m planning to continue my internship at a PR agency in Milwaukee. After this, I’d like to try in-house PR or perhaps even marketing/sales before settling into a job post-graduation. I also look forward to tutoring others in communications/political science throughout first semester. Whatever the future holds, I’m glad I got the opportunity to learn from such a talented team.
– Claire Driscol