My communications internship with Iowa State University TRIO

Saylor Upah, senior in public relations. (Christopher Gannon/Iowa State University)
Saylor Upah, senior in public relations. (Christopher Gannon/Iowa State University)

By: Saylor Upah, senior in public relations

I spent this summer interning with Iowa State University TRIO. The TRIO programs are an educational opportunity for low-income and first-generation students to progress from middle school to post-baccalaureate programs. I worked closely with the Talent Search and Upward Bound programs, two of the four TRIO programs at Iowa State University.

I knew this internship was the right fit for me, regardless of pay, after meeting with the director for TRIO Talent Search and Upward Bound to discuss this opportunity. Because of the Greenlee School of Journalism and Communication 499A Internship Scholarship, I was able to gladly accept this position without worrying about paying for summer tuition. This scholarship was my final resource that allowed me to graduate from college debt-free.

I began my internship in May as we were still tip-toeing through pandemic regulations. After completing my last semester of college completely online, it was important for me to work in an office setting so I could get the full experience with my internship and practice my work/life balance. I knew that would not be possible sitting on my laptop in my bedroom. The flexibility of my internship allowed me to primarily work in-person, but I also had the option to work remotely, as needed. I had set start and end dates in mind, and my hours were very flexible in between.

I was the first communications intern for Iowa State University TRIO. I found this to be both challenging and liberating because there were no expectations or guidelines for me to follow. I loved that my position catered to my interests and strengths, but I also found opportunities to challenge myself in areas where I had little expertise.

A few of my main projects with the TRIO program were revamping curriculum guides and out-of-date documents, transitioning the program’s website from WordPress to Drupal 9, designing brochures, creating Facebook posts, and writing news articles.

My favorite times working with TRIO were spent with the staff and students. I accompanied the TRIO Talent Search program on a handful of field trips where I took photos to post on social media. I had the opportunity to conduct a focus group with TRIO Upward Bound participants to discuss their preference for communication so our program can reach students in the most effective manner. I later relayed this information to other TRIO staff members.

I joined TRIO Talent Search in the seventh grade and followed the program throughout high school as a low-income student. The benefits I received from the program before college have come full circle as I practiced my education in public relations as the communications intern for TRIO this summer.

Editor’s note: Edited for length and clarity. Greenlee 499A internship scholarships support students who have a primary major in advertising, journalism and mass communication or public relations and are completing their required 400-hour internships. The application is available each spring.