Sorry this isn’t in AP Style: An unexpected internship experience

Riffle House does not look or feel like your average agency. Strangers come in frequently to ask if they can buy something off the shelf. Photo by Helena Hansen

Name: Helena Hansen

Year in School: senior

Major: public relations

Position: public relations intern, Riffle House

I’m really, really good at following directions.

I don’t mean to make that sound like some wonderful, inborn talent like being a piano protégé. I just hate being wrong. So, I follow directions.

This has worked pretty well for me at school. I assumed the same would be the case when I started my internship at Riffle House, an advertising and marketing agency in Davenport, Iowa. This meant I would finally be able to put to good use all those assignments with directions I had so meticulously followed. My day would include, but not be limited to (actually, no, it would also be limited to):

  1. Writing press releases
  2. Creating G.O.S.T. sheets
  3. Conducting primary research
  4. Writing more press releases
  5. Discussing the applications of communication theories in our work while sipping fine wine

Spoiler: This was not the case. I didn’t even get the fine wine. Or any wine. I wrote no press releases in my eleven weeks. Most shockingly, I didn’t even have to write in AP Style. If I wanted to send my boss an email in all caps, I could. If I wanted to use the Oxford comma, I could (and I did – I’m not a fighter, but I will fight for my right to use that sweet, sacred comma).

Of course, there were rules. It was imperative that I know at LEAST one Perry Como song (my boss knew all of them) and could recognize the Hathaway man advertisement from across the room (the office was filled with old advertisements). Plus, less-exciting things like a dress code and daily tasks that needed to be done.

My point is, every job is different. No matter what our professors do, they’ll never be able to fully prepare us for our future jobs because we’re not all going to work in the same place. Last summer, I did have to write press releases and conduct research at my internship. I don’t think one job was better than the other. They were just different.

That doesn’t mean every class I’ve taken was a total waste. I still had to know how to write well when I was proofreading a piece headed to the printer. I still had to understand the importance of research as I looked for ways to expand our social media following. I still had to use the Adobe Creative Suite.

So, as someone very unqualified to offer career advice, here is my advice: Don’t panic if you’d rather get a colonoscopy than write a press release. There is a job somewhere out there that will never make you write a press release. It may be a little harder to find, but it exists. If you do want to write press releases all day, that job is out there, too. If you want to have an office filled with old radios and plastic skulls, that job is out there, and I can give you the contact information for it. Public relations is such a broad major, and there’s a job out there for pretty much everyone.

Don’t get me wrong, I still had to follow directions this summer. I just had to learn new ones. My point is, we’ll all probably be semi-clueless when we get our first big-kid jobs. But we’ll figure it out because we’ve been given the tools to get us started.

Well, probably.


Vote for this blog post in Round 2 of the 2018 Greenlee Summer Intern Blogging Competition. Voting opens at 11:59 p.m. CST on August 8 and closes at 11:59 p.m. CST on August 15. The author of the post that receives the most votes will receive the $50 Amazon gift card.