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  • Alex Priest 1:14 pm on August 17, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , fall, independence, nms, parttime, responsibility,   

    Fewer Hours… More Responsibility? 

    Certainly looks that way!

    It’s been a tumultuous couple weeks here at CEA. All in a good way, but just a little crazy. My supervisor–and now good friend–moved on to a new job last Friday with New Media Strategies and now I’m finding myself increasingly independent, and with more and more projects on my plate!

    I’m thrilled! Never before have I had an internship that really provides me with this level of independence and responsibility, and individual control over the projects I’m working on. Of course I’m still asking plenty of questions and getting permission for the big things, but this is the first time I’ve really felt like the work I’m putting in is coming out with some real results.

    That’s one reason I’m almost a little sad that I’ll be switching to part time in less than a week, going from about 40 hours a week to almost half that. But at the same time I already get the feeling that, while my hours will be less, my responsibilities and independence will remain largely the same. It might mean work is going to be a little more frantic to get things done, but I’ll just have to kick my butt into gear and work hard to be productive each and every single minute I’m in the office (not that I don’t try to do that all the time!).

    The next few weeks will be interesting as our office hires someone to take my former supervisor’s place, and as we get closer and closer to the biggest events of the year for the CEA. Add in school, other jobs, and on-campus responsibilities, and I’ve got the making for a hectic semester but I’m excited about it nonetheless. In my experience, the busier I get the more rewarding I find my experiences–I’m sure this semester will be no different!

     
  • Alex Priest 12:57 pm on August 3, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: americanlegacy, at will, , contract, , , letter, , quit, , senate, , theawl, unpaid   

    Don’t Be Afraid to Say “I Quit” To a Crap Internship 

    Remember how, at the beginning of your internship, you most likely signed a short contract saying you were an “at will” employee? You know how this means that you can be terminated–or that you can quit–for any time or any reason? Well one intern took this to heart, the quitting part, anyway. Check it out, courtesy of The Awl:

    From: [REDACTED]
    Date: Mon, Aug 2, 2010 at 12:34 AM
    Subject:
    To: [THE BOSS]

    [REDACTED],

    This is not going to work out. After last week, I can no longer in good conscience stay at [NAME OF PUBLICATION]. I don’t think making bar graphs and quoting other websites is going to make me be a better writer. I quit.

    Good luck selling those [NAME OF ONE OF THE PUBLICATION'S ADVERTISERS].

    [REDACTED]

    Now this got me thinking. The first reaction to this kind of letter might be, oh, what a spoiled little intern. But really, are they so spoiled? Was that intern really out of line with that kind of letter? I’m not so sure. There is absolutely something to be said for being a hard worker, sticking it out, holding true to your commitment, and networking within any high-profile organization. But it’s not hard for me to envision a scenario where it might just not be worth it.

    I’ve been extraordinarily fortunate to have some incredible internships, on Capitol Hill, with the American Legacy Foundation, with MS&L PR, and now with the Consumer Electronics Association. That said, had any of these internships been unpaid and not lived up to my expectations, I may have been tempted to write a similar letter of my own. But I will emphasize, this is especially in the case of unpaid internships.

    The legality and ethics of unpaid internships has been in question for some time. While I can’t realistically say I expect unpaid internships to disappear anytime soon, I can definitely say there should be an expectation of legitimate work and learning to take place in an unpaid internship. After all, if you aren’t making money, you should be at least learning something and improving your skills–otherwise what’s the point?

    In the case of the letter above, the intern makes an excellent point. “Making bar graphs and quoting other websites,” in all likelihood, will not make him or her a better writer. Those are skills any intern with half a brain already has, and there’s no excuse for any organization to be handing interns such menial tasks (except perhaps very infrequently). If that internship was making him or her connections and giving them access to people in a high-profile organization that they might not have had access to otherwise, then there’s probably some value you there. If not… well then good for them.

    My point? Interns–if you get stuck with a crap unpaid internship, don’t do it just for that extra line on your resume. Call it quits early on (don’t wait two months into your internship) with a well-written, concise letter like above (although perhaps more polite), and then tell that story next time you interview for an internship, they might very well be impressed. Intern employers–don’t be jerks.

    Update: Great points in the comments by AU Career Center advisor Marie Spaulding–I couldn’t agree more! There’s a lot to consider in a situation like this (see below).

     
    • Marie Spaulding 2:02 pm on August 3, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      Alex,

      While I understand the frustration the intern in question (let’s call him Gary) expressed, I suggest other options Gary might try before quitting.

      If Gary were an AU student, whether or not he had registered to earn credit for the internship, he ought to take advantage of the resources of the AU Career Center to discuss the situation. If he contacted one of the Career Advisors, I, as an advisor, would ask if Gary had met with his supervisor to express his desire to apply his research, analytical, presentation… skills to benefit the employer. And, Gary ought to refer to the ‘contract’ or job description details to remind the employer what he had detailed as the projects Gary would tackle during his internship.

      If Gary had a conversation with his employer and still did not get some new projects or duties, I would urge him to let me know so that we could discuss other options.

      Quitting may appear to be noble, but employers do not forget and they talk to each other. Washington is a small place where word travels fast. And, to be honest, all of us run into situations like the one described during our work lives and we need to learn how to remedy them, if at all possible.

      • Alex Priest 2:19 pm on August 3, 2010 Permalink | Reply

        Couldn’t agree more. I’m definitely *not* advocating quitting except for in extraordinary situations. And you make great points about utilizing the resources at our disposal in terms of the career center, etc. (congrats on the recent ranking, by the way!).

        Given the limited information given in the letter, I made some assumptions to fit the theme of my post–namely, that “Gary” had already evaluated the situation and gone through the advising process.

        You also make a great point about employers talking to each other. But that said, people quit their jobs every day because they don’t like them–that’s not necessarily a bad thing, it just depends on how you go out. I would *not* recommend burning bridges like “Gary” did, obviously, but I’m not so sure quitting an internship should be altogether thrown out as an option, either.

    • Francine Blume 2:10 pm on August 3, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      Alex!! Have we taught you nothing!

      You shouldn’t be stuck in a crap internship, but there’s a process. FIRST, know what you’re getting into before you start. A solid position description is 1000 times better than “work on some projects.” If you have chosen wisely and it still just clerical, ask for more substantive work. If you’re getting credit, involve the Career Center and/or your faculty to help lobby for you. If there’s no one to give it to you, or it isn’t going to happen, GIVE 2 WEEKS NOTICE, explaining graciously that it isn’t what you expected, that you needed more substance, but thanking them for the opportunity. NEVER burn bridges. It’s a small town and a small world. I had a project assistant suddenly quit on me ten years ago, and wasn’t I delighted to reject her application when she applied for another job years later in another city!

      You should never be stuck in an unpaid, clerical internship. But if you end up in that situation, leave gracefully.

      • Alex Priest 2:46 pm on August 4, 2010 Permalink | Reply

        Totally, totally agree. Just using this letter as a conversation starter… it worked! =P

      • Bee W 1:10 am on April 15, 2011 Permalink | Reply

        You rejected her application? If the lady was wrong for leaving, then two wrongs definitely don’t make a right. Spitefulness is never a good quality. There are no ifs ands or buts to justify it.

    • The HR Intern 4:51 pm on August 3, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      I’d agree with what Marie laid out above. The best course of action is definitely being up front with your supervisor and having a conversation about what you’re looking for and how you can work with the supervisor to better the organization while enhancing your own skills.

      And as much as I love the tone of the e-mail (and I’m sure everyone’s been there – fond memories of doing nothing but scanning documents for a summer are coming back to me…but I digress), I think maybe you should be a little more civil in the way you handle the resignation. I feel like approaching the supervisor and thanking them for the opportunity before proceeding to explain why it’s not exactly what you’re looking for may come across better. Employers do talk and it’s not the kind of reputation you want hanging around you.

      Nice entry! Love the topic!

      • Alex Priest 2:47 pm on August 4, 2010 Permalink | Reply

        Thanks for your comment! I thought this would spark a good discussion, and I’m glad it did. Lots to think about in that type of situation. Like I said in my entry, I’ve been extraordinarily fortunate with my internships–here’s hoping most of us never wind up in that situation at all!

  • Alex Priest 9:11 am on July 29, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , company, , games, , , kickball, , outdoors, park, picnic   

    What A Day For a (Company) Picnic 

    I’ll come right out and say it: I’m not a company picnic kind of guy.

    In fact, I’m rarely a fan of any event, meeting, party, picnic or otherwise that is designed to “get me to meet people,” unless I’m attending of my own accord. I’m a self-starter, a go-getter, a networker–I don’t need these events to meet people, right? Much less people in my own company. Well, not entirely true.

    Let me preface this, too, by saying, it’s been a rough week. I’ve had back pain since the end of last week (pulled a strange muscle), I came down with a nasty cough over the weekend, and the heat hasn’t been kind to us in our non-air conditioned apartment in the past couple weeks (although it’s definitely not as bad as it sounds!).

    With all of this, I approached the company picnic with already low expectations, and once I realized my back wasn’t quite back in shape enough to join the kickball tournament, I knew it was going to largely be a hot day of sitting around, eating too much food, and in general watching other people have a good time.

    Alright, you’re probably thinking, what’s the point, here?

    It wasn’t as bad as I’d feared. I suspect I’ll never be a company-picnic-kind-of-guy, but there’s a lesson to be learned in every experience and this was no exception.

    The afternoon out at the park gave me an opportunity to meet a few people I hadn’t had the chance to, and put some faces with some names. It gave me a chance to chat with the other interns, get to know some other co-workers, and help out at a company-wide event. And if nothing else, it made me remember that it’s always important to make the best of less-than-awesome situations.

    Was it hot? Sure. Was I feeling great? Not particularly. Was it an afternoon of billable time spent outside with new friends? Yes it was.

    I may not be a company-picnic-kind-of-guy, but I’d gladly do it again.

     
  • Alex Priest 3:49 pm on July 15, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: age, , , , labels, student, titles, young   

    Is “Student” a Dirty Word? 

    I started thinking about this just this morning when one of my professional friends, who I greatly admire, respect, and trust, was explaining to me how I don’t necessarily need to emphasize my inexperience when talking about my skills. In other words, my bio doesn’t need start out with “Alex Priest is a senior at American University…” and all my “first time” experiences don’t necessarily need to be labeled as such.

    I agree, for the most part, but it got me wondering… is “student” a dirty word in today’s world of professionalism and networking?

    (More …)

     
    • Minna Scherlinder Morse 3:37 pm on July 20, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      Based on my experience with students, I think that rather than a label that “defines” experience, age, maturity, etc., in reality the term student actually DEFIES those expectations. It’s all about your audience and their expectations. There is much to be gained by identifying yourself as a student while you can. People are willing to take you under their wing in a way they may be more reluctant to when your implicit title is simply “job hunter.” Use all your identifying titles/labels judiciously. If you want to impress someone with your readiness to work for pay, then shy away from “student” a smidge. But if you’re loving soaking in all the insights and knowledge the world has to offer a “student,” soak away…

    • Robert SanGeorge 8:45 pm on July 22, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      No, student is not a dirty word. But I would frame the issue differently. Rather than worry about being treated as a second-class citizen in some workplaces because you are an intern, think of the glass as being half-full, and how you can encourage people to treat you as a budding young professional. There are numerous ways to make this happen. Perhaps you already do all the things I’m about to mention. If not, consider it.

      For example: you tell people you are a young professional by the way you dress, the way you carry yourself, the way you greet people — and by displaying a constant seriousness of purpose, while of course maintaining a sense of humor. You tell people you aspire to move up in the professional world by showing up for work a little bit early and leaving a little bit late. You jump in and roll up your sleeves no matter what the job, and even if you were not asked to do it. Arrange the chairs for a workshop — yes. Greet conference attendees as they get off the elevator — yes. Take notes as a meeting for the entire group — yes.

      You raise the issue of social media. When it comes to Twitter, facebook, et al, young people for sure tend to be more experienced than others and have a good intuitive sense of what works and what doesn’t. But understand that much of the best analysis and strategic thinking about social media outreach is being done by people over 30 who have a broad, comprehensive grasp of all communications media and their use for political campaigns, advocacy causes and for-profit product marketing. That is the difference between being a social media content producer or being a vice president of communications.

      Yes, there is no question you might not be treated as a full professional in many workplaces until you receive your undergraduate degree and lose the title of intern. And that is no excuse for anyone treating you disrespectfully or disdainfully. But as a one-time student of Latin, I can tell you that the English word is derived from the Latin “studere”, which loosely translated refers to someone who pursues the learning of a subject with zeal. Certainly that is something of which to be proud and not ashamed.

      • Alex Priest 3:04 pm on July 26, 2010 Permalink | Reply

        I couldn’t agree more! I think my post came off a little more negatively than I’d intended–it’s not necessarily that that happens to me often (it doesn’t), I was looking at it more from a philosophical standpoint, i.e. wouldn’t it be nice if students were *always* looked at as “someone who pursues the learning of a subject with zeal”?

        You give fantastic advice and as an intern I strive to do all those things each and every day. And I couldn’t agree more in terms of social media. I’ve consistently found that, while I often know the tools, terminology, and execution better than those that are more senior to myself, I’m constantly learning new tricks of the trade in terms of broad, comprehensive strategy and traditional marketing techniques from them.

        I’m very proud to call myself a student–and I don’t think I’ll ever shed that title (we’re all students, right?). But it is interesting seeing how just those words “student,” “intern,” etc. can result in very different interpretations depending on the viewer.

        Thanks for the comment!

  • Alex Priest 10:19 am on July 13, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: book, , , me, me time, reading, relaxation, videogame   

    Me Time 

    The other day, I took a little “me” time. It was important, and necessary, and it felt good.

    So good, in fact, that I felt the urge to blog about it here. I’m currently interning full-time, directing social media for a new startup organization part-time, writing for several blogs, and trying to maintain some semblance of a social life. At times, I feel a little bogged down.

    I love the busy-ness, the stress, the hectic days with their early mornings and late nights. But that said, I’ve had very little time to devote to just me lately. So I finally took some.

    I went for a long bike ride.
    I bought a videogame, for the first time since 2007.
    I went to the library and checked out an adult, fictional book. The first one in years.

    What a relief! I biked home and relaxed with my kitten, playing videogames and hanging out on the couch. I read on my porch as the sun set, allowing the pages to suck me in and out of the internship-filled life that I seem to live nowadays.

    Moral of the story? It’s okay to take some time for yourself. It’s been a hard lesson for me to learn, and I have no doubt that it’ll probably be some time for me to again sit back and really enjoy a videogame and a book like I did the other day. But even so, I hope I can look back on this post from time to time and realize that, amidst the craziness of living the non-stop intern life in DC (as represented by these nonstop blog posts on the AU Intern blog!), it’s always good to take a little “me” time, too.

     
    • Felicia Parks 2:51 pm on July 14, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      Yes, me time is very important and glad you carved out some time to just relax. Also hope that all is going well with you this summer and I can’t wait to get updates when you return to campus.

  • Alex Priest 2:19 am on July 11, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , cte, , , , meeting   

    The Big Idea 

    In past internships I’ve always had opportunities to voice my opinion and contribute my ideas, but never so much as I did in a recent meeting at my current internship with the CEA.

    Without divulging too many exciting details–soon the CEA will be announcing a new membership category for individuals (the “Consumer Technology Enthusiast”). Part of my job in this internship has been to work with our team and our ad agency to develop a campaign for promoting this new membership category as we lead up to and execute the launch later this year.

    Just recently, our agency brought all of their team and invited approximately 20 CEA staff for a brainstorming session, myself included. We were instructed to bring along three ideas, written on three separate index cards.

    Index cards in hand, myself and one other intern joined in the meeting and the entire room proceeded to “present” their ideas, one by one, in front of the entire group. After that we all placed our cards on the wall, where everyone in the room voted on ideas using stickers, and then we proceeded to further develop some of these ideas to come up with three main concepts.

    My idea was one of those three final concepts. And not only that, but it was a central feature of the final campaign, the “best” one as voted on by the group.

    I was, needless to say, a little shocked, but also thrilled and excited. Having the opportunity to get up there and present my idea in front of the group–me being “just” an intern–was a great experience and one that I feel really validated me as part of the team.

    Just goes to show, the title “intern” is misleading. And I think it’s possibly the most misleading in marketing, public relations, and today’s digital communications. More and more I’m noticing that my fellow young colleagues and myself tend to have the big ideas, the successful ideas, and the ones that work in today’s modern digital world. Hopefully that’s a sign of good things to come when we all finally enter the “real” world.

     
  • Alex Priest 2:31 pm on June 10, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , facebook, , , , , theory, web   

    Just How Thin IS The “Thin Line” Between Marketing and PR 

    One of my first lessons at the CEA? There’s more to differentiate marketing and PR than I previously thought. I still believe it’s a pretty thin line (and always getting thinner), but it’s been fascinating to see things from a marketing perspective as opposed to communications.

    In the past, as I’ve said before, most of my internships have been in communication departments and at a PR agency, always bordering on marketing, but never enough for me to call myself a “marketing intern.” At CEA, that’s my title, and the differences are becoming more clear to me every day.

    (More …)

     
    • ashleywolos 1:34 am on June 16, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      Hey Alex,
      I totally understand what you mean. For the past year I interned at a marketing, advertising & PR firm but worked mostly on marketing and advertising whereas now my current internship is specifically in a Comm department. It’s hard to explain unless you’ve experienced it. While the line still exists it’s more like a dotted line that has occasionally has some solid segments occasionally.

  • Alex Priest 9:18 am on June 7, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , bicycling, , ces, , exercise, , pace,   

    A Change of Pace 

    So I’m settling in at my new internship and wow, it is a change of pace. In a good way, though, of course!

    Not only am I doing differing kinds of work at the CEA, but it’s also a very different kind of organization than any other that I’ve worked at in the past. The CEA is big–they have a beautiful building in Crystal City, lots of amazing resources, and a huge and talented team. It’s also organized; no more scrambling to find old records, archives, or juggling assignments not related to my actual job function. At CEA they’ve got their stuff together, and things just seem to work.

    That’s not belittle my past internships–they were all fantastic too!–nor do I want to appear naive. Every place of employment has its ups and downs, and I’m sure not everything always runs smoothly at the CEA. Just as it was in the Senate Majority Leader’s office on Capitol Hill, at the American Legacy Foundation, and at MS&L, there are always hiccups along the way. But that said, so far I’ve been extremely impressed, and I’m thrilled to part of such a unique and sophisticated organization.

    (More …)

     
  • Alex Priest 1:30 pm on May 24, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , summer, techchange   

    The End and New Beginnings 

    Since I’ve last written, much has happened–and rest assured, I’ll have plenty to talk about over the coming weeks. This past Wednesday was my final day interning at MS&L PR (which was a great experience, in case you missed my earlier posts!). Now I’m on to bigger (sort of) and better (hopefully!) things.

    This Wednesday I’ll begin work interning in the marketing department of the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), organizer of the Consumer Electronics Show, held every January in Las Vegas. I think this is going to be an amazing opportunity, and something a little different from what I’ve done before. In the past my internships have been primarily communications and PR focused (appropriate for my B.A. in Communications), but this one fits well with my B.S. in Business and Marketing. I’m looking forward to doing more hands-on work, designing and creating things for our audiences to see, instead of doing so much of the background work, as I have in the past.

    In addition to my work at the CEA this summer I’ve also begun my first non-internship! My first job without “intern” in the title, I am now officially the Director of Social Media at a new organization called TechChange. We’ll be launching our social media presence–and getting the whole organization off the ground–in the coming weeks, and I’ll be sure to mention that on here as well.

    Now that we’re all caught up, I’m also resolving to write more here! With all that I’ve got going on in the coming weeks and months, I know I’ll be learning valuable lessons in the intern world each and every single day. Rest assured, I’ll do my best to capture them here. Thanks for reading!

     
  • Alex Priest 9:00 am on April 22, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , budget, class, crunchmode, , , , school,   

    The Challenge I Was Waiting For 

    This morning I got a fresh challenge at my internship–probably the kind of challenge I’ve really been wanting all semester. In recent weeks particularly, I’ve been occasionally frustrated with some of the tedious work I’ve been stuck doing, given that I’m the only part-time intern in the office. Today I was assigned to take on the brunt of the work for a brand new project–a big one–and one that I’ll spend considerable time on for for the remainder of my time at MS&L.

    Obviously I can’t give too much detail, but the challenge is two-fold: First, simply completing the project. This is something unlike anything I’ve ever done, and despite my briefing this morning, I’m still not 100% sure what to expect. I’m certainly hoping for smooth sailing, but in this job, smooth sailing is never, ever guaranteed. Secondly, it’s about completing the project on time and (hopefully) under budget.

    In PR agencies, we bill work by the hour. Because of that, the first step in a project is setting the budget and estimating the amount of time each position will require to fulfill their duties–not an exact science. For this project, we determined this morning that the initial budget issued me far too much time for what, as far as I can tell, should take a relatively small amount of time. So we cut my hours for that phase of the project in half. For another, we cut them by one third. For another, by a half again. In all, we cut several thousand dollars worth of time from the project. I’m not concerned, but in fact, I kind of like it. This project gives me a challenge–not only do I need to complete quality work, but I’ve got a timer, now, too.

    I’m realizing more and more that I work best in “crunch mode.” It’s stressful, and I usually freak out a little and don’t sleep much (hence I’m writing this at 3:09 a.m.), but it’s when I’m on a tight deadline, with lots of stuff to do, that I produce my best work in the most efficient way. It works.

    The next two weeks will put my endurance to the test like never before. In addition to tackling this project at work I’ll be completing my honors communication capstone project (sneak preview here, for those of you interested), finishing a final paper for my last (!) general education required course, preparing for three final exams, completing two final course portfolios, giving my final speech for public speaking, and trying to figure out what’s the next internship I’m going to tackle (but more on that in another post–soon). And of course, squeezing in a few more posts here before the end of the semester. It’s going to be an insane adventure, but I’m pumped for it.

     
  • Alex Priest 9:32 am on April 5, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , ideas, , , , , swot   

    What’s the “Big Idea?” 

    Last week involved juggling a myriad of different projects at the office–all fun, but all challenging me to keep myself more organized and productive than ever before. With juggling six classes, my honors communications capstone project, an apartment search, a job search, and more outside the office, I’m looking at more balls in the air than I’ve ever even imagined.

    But I’m surviving and I’m enjoying every minute of it.

    Also last week my fellow intern and I (the third intern has left to pursue a full-time job opportunity she was offered elsewhere) were hard at work brainstorming for our MS&L Intern Project. This semester, we are drafting a pitch for a future potential client, in a familiar industry with a topic that seems to be increasingly in the news. Now that we’ve identified a potential target audience, competitors, done a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) analysis, and more, we need to come up with our “big idea.” This is the hard part.

    See the “big idea” for our project isn’t just deciding to target one group or another. And it’s not just about picking some ambitious, pie-in-the-sky, let’s-conquer-this-industry kind of idea to go with. We have to take into account practical things–like a limited budget–and strategic factors; We have to ask ourselves, “how does this idea relate back to our ultimate goal?” Basically, this is all a lot harder than it seems.

    Which leads me to my lesson for the morning: inspiration doesn’t come natural. No one is born with a “big idea” or a the talent to simply conjure up brilliant innovations without any forces from the outside world. We’re all impacted and influenced by our upbringing, our immediate environment, the people we surround ourselves with, and the paths we have taken to reach our current situation.

    For this intern project, we’re working closely together, in addition to receiving counsel and advice from multiple other colleagues. And it’s helping.

    We don’t quite have our “big idea” yet, but I can tell it’s well on the way. We have lots of brilliant ideas, now we just need a little focus and a heavy dose of practicality to start the ball rolling and, in the end, present an outstanding intern project. I’m excited.

     
  • Alex Priest 10:10 pm on March 20, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: full-time, , , schedule   

    The Part-Time / Full-Time Debate 

    Going into my internship at MS&L, I knew that there would be two other interns, but not much else. As it turns out, they had both already graduated–one with a master’s degree–and were to be working a full-time ┬áinternship with MS&L, 40+ hours a week.

    At first, I felt like the lame duck intern. Because of my course schedule, it’s only possible for me to intern on Tuesday and Friday afternoons, and full days on Wednesday. Roughly 20 hours a week, and not nearly the full presence in the office that the other two interns had. At first, I was a little worried this situation would cause problems.

    Because I wasn’t in the office as much, our colleagues tended to forget about me. They’d forget my schedule and, if they couldn’t find me, just pass on the assignment to another intern. For large assignments, some need a full-time presence, to attend meetings on Mondays or Thursdays and put in more hours than I could. This kind of left me in the dark.

    But not all is lost! Turns out, it just needed a little bit of time. Part-time internships are a fact of life for full-time students. I don’t have the financial capability to take off a semester for a full-time internship, nor did MS&L expect me to do such a thing. For me, it was just a matter of asserting myself, keeping in touch via e-mail if I’m not in the office, and making sure they knew they could rely on me, even if I wasn’t in the office every day.

    Now I have three large projects I’m involved in, as well as my hand in several others. I’m getting plenty of significant experience and I’m growing closer and closer with the team. I’m learning more every day, and learning that some of my colleagues make absolutely incredible mentors.

    If you’re stuck in a part-time internship and think you’re going to be left out–don’t worry. Just be sure to put yourself out there and make it known that you can perform just as well on a part-time schedule as you can on a full-time one.

     
  • Alex Priest 2:00 pm on February 23, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , conference, , , outsidetheinternship, , rc10, rootscamp, unconference   

    Life Outside the Internship — RootsCamp 

    Now even though this blog is technically just about interning, I’ve got a feeling they won’t mind me giving you a few tips for outside the internship as well. In this case, I just wanted to mention my participation in the New Organizing Institute’s RootsCamp here in Washington, D.C. this past weekend.

    The “camp” was actually an “unconference.” An unconference is sort of a new style of conference, one in which the participants completely control the agenda of the weekend. Basically, the hosting organization sets up a space, basic time schedule and arranges food, ticketing, etc. Then, when participants arrive, they are given a blank card to create their own seminar-style session, which then fits in on the giant “grid” of sessions for the conference.

    Surprisingly, it usually goes far more smoothly than real conferences. Anyway, RootsCamp was a conference for organizers of advocacy campaigns, social justice campaigns, and progressive political campaigns to get together and learn from each other. Sessions were wide-ranging: some focused on communications tools and strategies, like social media, while others focused on specific policy areas, specific organizations, or even just a current event or person in the news.

    But my point is… take opportunities like this! Get involved in your community, whether it’s here in Washington, D.C. or a small town in Kentucky. There are always people to learn from, and events like RootsCamp make for an incredible chance to do so, as well as network! For more information check out my post on my personal blog about the camp, and check out my entire gallery of photos from RootsCamp by clicking on the photo below!

     
    • FB 1:28 pm on February 25, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      Great photo and great point! Get involved as you can and take advantage of opportunities. Do you have any tips for folks on how to balance and prioritize? Sounds like you’re doing well in that area and lots of folks could use some insights to help them out.

  • Alex Priest 10:00 am on February 23, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: internslump, , , pitch, , , snowpocalypse,   

    Part of the Team 

    Hi all, my apologies for the delay since my last post! What with the blizzards ravaging the city, schoolwork consuming my life, and a couple slow days in the office, I just didn’t have a whole lot to say!

    As of last Friday though, things are really picking up at my internship. As I said before I’m interning with MS&L PR Worldwide, a major international public relations firm. As of last Wednesday and Friday, my work is starting to pile up–and it feels great!

    I’ll be honest, for the first weeks of my internship I fell into a bit of the part-time intern slump. At MS&L there are three of us interning, two of which have already graduated and are interning full-time. Thanks to my course schedule, I’m only available to work on Tuesday/Friday afternoons and all day on Wednesdays. Still definitely worth it, but it leads to some confusion in the office as to when I’m working/not working, and, at first anyway, it seemed to cause me to get passed up for a lot of project-based assignments.

    Clearly, that’s changed!

    (More …)

     
    • FB 1:26 pm on February 25, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      GREAT insight about your pitch-writing and super attitude!

  • Alex Priest 6:34 am on February 5, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: advice, , mistake, scandal, techcrunch   

    A Brief Lesson: What Not To Do At Your Internship 

    Just saw this tonight and felt compelled to share it here on the AU Intern Blog. Michael Arrington, founder of the immensely influential tech blog, TechCrunch, issued an apology on the TechCrunch Web site tonight. Here’s a brief snippet:

    On Monday evening I received a phone call from someone I trust who told me that one of the interns that works at TechCrunch had asked for compensation in exchange for a blog post. Specifically, this intern had allegedly asked for a Macbook Air in exchange for a post about a startup.

    After an investigation we determined that the allegation was true. In fact, on at least one other occasion this intern was almost certainly given a computer in exchange for a post.

    The intern in question has admitted to some of the allegations, and has denied others. We suspended this person while we were sorting through exactly what happened. When it became clear yesterday that there was no question that this person had requested, and in one case taken, compensation for a post, the intern was terminated.

    Need I say more? To my fellow interns, future interns, wannabe interns, to everyone reading: don’t take a great opportunity and throw it away because of senseless mistakes!

    This intern at TechCrunch clearly took his big break for granted, and it was with one of the largest and most influential technology news sites in the world. He made an incredibly stupid, not to mention unethical, mistake, and one that could’ve easily been avoided. Think before you take advantage of a good position you’ve landed. Do your job and do it well, but don’t overstep your boundaries.

    Read the full post on TechCrunch for a few more details, here.

     
    • L Smith 2:54 pm on February 5, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      I must be missing something here – the intern was apparently wrong to request compensation and wrong to take it. However, the transgressor is the person who didn’t say no, the first OR the second time – which was all that had to happen. It sounds as if compensation is actually part of the TechCrunch culture but someone thought this student became greedy. The person who gave the compensation is the one who should be terminated and have their name published. This is reminiscent of teenage girls being pilloried for getting pregnant, while the teenage boys get off, if they are identified, with the stinging admonition ‘boys will be boys.’ One of the valuable opportunities of an internship is to learn to read between the lines.

      • Alex 3:09 pm on February 5, 2010 Permalink | Reply

        Yes, I think you misunderstood. A company had approached the intern about placing an article, and the intern was evidently asking for bribes from tech startups. You’re right in that it was wrong for the startup to ever offer compensation for a post at all, but unfortunately it happens far too often. However, I know this isn’t part of the culture at TechCrunch–it’s a very standup news source and their policy is to never accept compensation for publicity.

    • FB 8:10 pm on February 8, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      I think it’s a great example! We ALL make mistakes and error of judgments. In one of my very first jobs, I took on a radio interview about one of our events rather than passing it on to my boss. Yeah, that didn’t go over too well.

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