Interning in the Windy City

Jenna DeMarco is a public relations intern at Walker Sands.

By Jenna DeMarco

Year In School: Senior

Major: Public Relations

Internship: Public Relations Intern, Walker Sands Communications

This summer, I am interning at a B2B tech firm in Chicago. After months of searching for a job, a handful of interviews and a writing test, I received an offer from Walker Sands Communications. This internship offers me exactly what I wanted: real-world experience. At Walker Sands, I am an integral part of my team and add value to the work we are doing. I don’t just get assigned “busy work,” the content I produce is actually used and sent to media.

While each day is different, a few things stay the same. Every morning, I Google each of the clients I am working on and compile any media clips in which they were mentioned. This can range from a press release to a contributed article. I then add the clips to a dashboard where every placement is stored. I also research industry news to stay up-to-date on relevant topics so that when I pitch to reporters, I can make sure my topic is timely. Right now, I pitch two articles and write two press releases a week.

Creating media lists is also a part of my day. The first day, I was asked to compile a list of 50 reporters using a software I wasn’t familiar with, so it’s safe to say I was a little lost. However, that’s the great thing about an internship – the other interns are in the same boat as you and are learning as well.

Going into this internship, I had no experience with B2B tech, so there was definitely a learning curve. However, with other interns in the same boat as me, it was nice to pick their brains and collaborate with them when it came to getting a grasp on the industry.

As mentioned previously, B2B tech is not my area of expertise, nor is it for many people. That said, this position requires me to do a lot of research. The first full week of work was dedicated to training sessions and researching each of the clients my specific team works on. This was no easy task. For someone with no knowledge of the insurance, compliance and regulation industry, it took a lot of time to learn each of my clients inside and out. You need to research not only the clients, but also their specific services, what makes them stand out, and their competitors, so you can position yourself as an expert on the topic when speaking with reporters. Reporters don’t know that you’re an intern – they see the company name and associate you as such.

Although I have only been working for less than a month, I feel like I am fully integrated into the company and its culture. I am given meaningful work where I can add value to my team and our clients, and I’m being taught skills that will help further my career in this industry.

I am looking forward to the remainder of my internship and hope to continue to grow professionally and personally.