, , , ,

Being the true Northwestern student that I am, my internship search for this summer began last August. Looking for my third internship—following an editorial internship with the Minneapolis-St. Paul Business Journal last summer and an internship with Northwestern University Press this year at school—I had high hopes for summer ‘12. I knew through advice from the MSPBJ and my Integrated Marketing Communications classes that Public Relations would be my field of choice of test out. After realizing I didn’t want to pursue a career in Journalism, PR seemed like the perfect field to combine my double major in English and Economics—related to Journalism, but more well rounded, business minded, and project management focused.

For the six months prior to obtaining my internship, I scoured blogs and internship websites for summer jobs in the Minneapolis PR field. I applied to about fifteen, also contacting over a dozen over companies who hadn’t posted specific positions. I experienced many rounds of grueling interviews, my favorite question being “If you were an item out of a refrigerator, what would you be?” from my now Account Director Darin (after a couple seconds of panic, my answer was lemon sorbet—sweet with a kick, of course). Somehow they were crazy enough to take on the lemon sorbet.

I ended up choosing from that PR agency and two internships in corporate communications divisions. The two corporate positions paid a good deal more (extremely tempting, as I’ll be paying for my study abroad trip to London in the fall), but I came to the conclusion that an internship with a PR agency would provide me with a more exciting and useful experience to add to my resume. Tunheim Partners, the PR agency I chose, has a wide variety of accounts, spanning everything from consumer and medtech, to large-scale events and professional sports. They’ve also worked on some incredible projects, including my personal favorite: helping Target Field, the new Minnesota Twins baseball stadium, become a reality.

Likewise, their office is an exciting place to go to work every day, overlooking a vast wildlife reserve. With decorations ranging from a Twins bobble head collection to Target memorabilia and Bob Dylan posters on the wall, it’s not hard to feel creatively inspired walking around this place.

Though I’ve only been part of Team Tunheim a week, I’ve gotten the opportunity to dive in, writing press releases, backgrounders, and media alerts as well as taking on research and social media projects. I’m getting to spearhead a Pinterest account for a major annual Minneapolis event and am currently working on pitching to a cooking demonstration to local morning shows. Though every project isn’t quite as glamorous (my agribusiness account has been focused on soybean droughts and commodities prices), every account has given me an invaluable chance not only to learn about various aspects of the public relations field, but about different areas of business as well.

Even better than the job, however, are the people I’ve met so far. From the moment I walked into the office, I’ve been truly welcomed by a group of eclectic, intelligent, and hilarious coworkers. Team Tunheim is really a unique set of individuals—our lunch room chats have spanned blind dates (much to the dater’s dismay), future spouses, and hometown battles.

Though I’m just starting my internship, I can already tell it will be an invaluable experience, both for my resume and making contacts. I’m doing exciting work, learning an incredible amount about the PR field, and hanging out with some pretty awesome people at work every day. It may be too early to tell, but if the past two weeks have been any indication, Tunheim seems to be exactly the kind of company I’d like to work for in the PR field after I leave NU.

Internship Tips:

  • Don’t hesitate to reach out to find internships. My internship for this summer was never posted on a career site, but rather I did individual research into what Minneapolis PR firms had regular internship programs—this field is so popular they don’t all need to post online!
  • Go above and beyond: Last summer for the MSPBJ, I took on a final project, researching and writing an in-depth story that was published on the front of the paper. This experience was absolutely invaluable as a talking point for my interviews this year. Interviewers will love to hear that you’re the kind of intern that does more than just make coffee!
  • Research the company before the interview. Often, interviewers will ask why you want to work for their company, not their competitors. Having a strong answer—referencing specific work that the firm has done and why you want to work them in particular, rather than why you want to work in the industry—is crucial.

About the NU Intern Blogger Program
This summer, over 50 Northwestern University students will be sharing stories about what they are experiencing at their internships from across the country and internationally. Each week new students will share an inside look at what it means to be an intern. Please contact Betsy Gill, Assistant Director, Internship Services if you have any questions.