Having a blast in Okoboji: my summer as a social media intern for Parks Marina

By: Ashlee Staerk, senior, advertising

This summer, I was a social media intern for Parks Marina Inc. Parks Marina is a prominent marina in the tourist town of Okoboji, Iowa, that also owns several restaurants, boutiques and businesses in the area. I got the opportunity to do marketing work for all of them: The Barefoot Bar, Central Emporium, Gardens, Okoboji Boat Works, O’Farrell Sisters, Palm at the Park, Snappers Café and West Boutique.

This was my second summer working for the company. Last summer, I was a retail management intern and worked at their two stores—Palm at the Park and West Boutique. I’ve been visiting Okoboji my whole life since my grandparents live nearby in Estherville, so I’ve always known what a fun place it is, and I was so excited to return this summer and gain more skills directly related to my advertising major.

As a social media intern, the main duty I had was creating posts for all the brands’ Facebook and Instagram accounts with original, compelling photos and captions, as well as maintaining engaging stories. One of the things I loved about being an intern in marketing and about Parks Marina is how many brands make up their business. I got to develop a huge amount of content for my portfolio, and it kept every day unique and exciting. It also required knowledge of each brand to effectively target their audience, which was a good challenge and helped me apply many of the concepts I’ve been studying in my classes.

My two supervisors let me work on design tasks, like editing and updating numerous graphics, as well as creating many of my own. They were incredibly supportive and knowledgeable and helped me learn even more about graphic design and the Adobe Creative Suite, which is something I want to keep pursuing. I also got to update and create several pages for their website.

An unexpected blessing from this internship was getting to work with the other social media intern, who is also a student at Iowa State studying marketing. We hit it off and became close throughout the summer, and we had a lot of fun going around to the locations and collaborating. It showed me how valuable teamwork is, especially within marketing, as we were able to inspire one another creatively and help each other out when we were struggling with ideas or something technical. It was really cool to see how much we could problem-solve and learn from each other without even involving our supervisors, and that is another connection I will have going forward.

My supervisors were amazing to work with throughout the whole summer. They are very talented and trusted us with the assignments they gave us, and they were always sharing their insight and tricks. I am so thankful I had this opportunity to work in a place I love, doing things that I hope to be doing in a career someday, with such wonderful people.

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.