My 499A internship at the Octagon Center for the Arts

CATEGORIES: Student Perspective
Annie Cassutt represented the Octagon Center for the Arts at Greenlee’s Jump-Start Internship and Networking Fair in fall 2019. Cassutt worked as a public relations intern for the Octagon during the summer and fall of 2019.

Name: Julianna (Annie) Cassutt

Year: junior

Major: public relations

Minor: event management

Hometown: Manchester, Iowa

What was your 499A internship experience like? What were your roles within these organizations?

As a public relations intern at the Octagon Center for the Arts in Ames, my duties varied greatly. Since the organization is a local nonprofit, everyone who works there gets to have a hand in many things. As the PR intern my main roles were promoting events, spiffing up the social media and sending out newsletters and press releases.

What were your specific duties or projects?

One of my main projects was to make the Octagon’s Instagram more engaging and have a voice that aligned more with what the Octagon was already doing. Once I got to know what the Octagon’s values were, I spent some time brainstorming how to reflect that in their Instagram. This was a very fun project because my boss gave me a lot of freedom to try new things. We developed hashtags and posted more consistently as well as started to utilize Instagram stories. Another project I worked on was developing a blog for the Octagon’s website. We wanted people who were viewing the website to get a more personal look into what the Octagon is doing.

What were some of your favorite experiences?

Some of my favorite experiences were when we would have events at the Octagon. The summer when I interned there, they started a new event called Patio Night where they would stay open later on Thursdays and open the patio behind the shop for live music and drinks. Events like these were so much fun because I loved seeing people from the community come to the Octagon and celebrate art and each other.

What was one of your biggest learning moments?

The biggest learning moments I had were in the moments where I had to rely on what I had learned in class or other jobs and really put those skills to action. There were only two other interns that worked there and everyone was not always there at the same time, so sometimes I really did have to make decisions on my own about things. It was helpful to learn the balance between being a team player and collaborating with a group and also gaining the confidence to be able to complete tasks on my own.

How did you find your 499A internship?

I talked to them at the Jump-Start Internship and Networking Fair, which was a great opportunity to have a conversation with one of the current interns and hear about her experiences.

Did you have any career revelations as a result of this internship?

I have always been interested in the nonprofit realm of public relations and this internship showed me what it was really like to work in that area. Seeing behind the scenes at a nonprofit made me see that it does involve a lot of hard work and dedication, but it still made me think that it is a path I could see myself pursuing one day.

How did the Greenlee 499A internship scholarship support you as you completed your internship? 

My internship was unpaid, so I applied for the Greenlee internship scholarship, and it helped me immensely. Since my internship started over the summer, I had to pay to take the 499A class and to live in Ames during the summer. The scholarship helped me afford my class and living costs over the summer, so I appreciated it greatly.

What’s your advice to students who are currently looking for their 499A internship?

If you are looking for your 499A, I would suggest keeping an open mind and go to as many internship and job fairs as you can. No place is too big or small to at least apply to. There are so many great resources at Iowa State such as the Jump-Start Fair or the student job board on AccessPlus. You never know where an opportunity can come from, so the more connections you have, the better!

How did your previous Greenlee/Iowa State experiences (classes, clubs, study abroad, etc.) help you prepare?

The public relations writing class (P R 321) I took through Greenlee helped me a lot with my internship. As I said I wrote some press releases for the Octagon, and I was able to feel comfortable creating a proper planning sheet and press release whenever I wrote them.

What are your career aspirations? And how did your internship experiences help?

As of right now, I am planning on going to grad school. I would love to work in higher education or the nonprofit world one day…very different paths, I know. This internship obviously helped me see what it was like to work at a nonprofit, but like I said it taught me how to work as a team player while also developing my individual work skills which are skills that will help me in any path I take.

What has been your fondest memory at Greenlee?

My favorite part about being a part of Greenlee is that when I walk through Hamilton it makes Iowa State feel a lot smaller, in the best way. I see professors I know and classmates I know. My favorite specific memory was going on agency tours with PRSSA my freshman year. We went to Chicago and visited multiple PR agencies and even got to tour the Bulls stadium…it was awesome!

What was your favorite Greenlee class?

I have loved so many of the classes I have taken at Greenlee, but my favorite has been the public relations campaign class (P R 424) where we had the opportunity to work with a real business in Ames and develop an actual campaign for them. It is a great experience to add to my resume, and I loved that the class was small enough that I got to know the other students and Professor Wilgenbusch better.

Do you have any advice for underclassmen?

Get involved in as many clubs as you can! It’s better to have too much to put on your resume than not enough. There are just a copious number of clubs at Iowa State, so there is definitely something here that would pique your interest, and it’s a great way to meet people. Within Greenlee, there are so many great clubs too. By joining clubs and organizations that apply to your major you will be able to learn about your industry, have professional opportunities and do things that you will be able to add to your resume. As a soon-to-be senior, I can assure you that college does really fly, and you should relish these years to gain experiences and meet new people!

Interview by Olivia Benjamin; edited for length and clarity