Kristin Tomins
Editor’s Note: Kristen Tomins recently shared her experience as a public relations intern at R/P. Kristen graduates from Bowling Green State University this month.

Chances are, you or someone you know has experienced a less than stellar internship program during their college education. Often, internships have a stereotype of being all busy work, and fetching coffee among other seemingly useless tasks. Although I’ve heard my share of horror stories, my experience at R/P Marketing Public Relations was anything but.

From my first day at R/P, I was treated like a full- or part-time employee. I was given my own desk, computer and working space, and was included in employee lunches and meetings. But more importantly, I was treated like a valued member of the team each day. So, to give some reassurance to future interns, here are some common misconceptions about interning that I would like to set straight.

Fiction: Interns are only given busy work (e.g., mailing, shredding, fetching coffee, etc.)
The only coffee I was responsible for “fetching” was my own (if I drank coffee).

Nearly all of my time was spent working on valuable projects for clients and account teams, whether it was building media lists, drafting news releases, conducting research or drafting media pitches. R/P encouraged me to try my hand at all sorts of projects to learn more about where my strengths were.

With that said, I was definitely busy. While the workload in an agency can be overwhelming at times, it helped me improve upon my own time management skills, and sharpen my attention to detail.

Fiction: Your days are repetitive
Chances are, if you’re working in any type of office you may be under the impression that most of your days will be spent sitting at a desk – and you may be correct. At R/P, however, there were many days when my projects required me to be up and moving; some weren’t even in the office!

One Monday, I walked into the office expecting to work on a news release and 20 minutes later, I was driving to downtown Toledo to support on a product photo shoot. While I gained more of an appreciation for how much work it is to put together a product catalog (spoiler, it’s quite a process), the experience made me realize there is more to PR than media pitching. You should always plan for the unexpected, and be open-minded to new projects thrown your way.

PR practitioners at R/P, and other agencies, juggle multiple projects for a variety of clients at any given time, which makes each day different and far from repetitive.

Fiction: Interns don’t get face time with upper-level management
From my experience, I saw upper-level management every day. In fact, I was encouraged to keep the lines of communication open regarding progress on projects; new ideas; and to build relationships, and my network, with my colleagues.

While we students and soon-to-be grads are the future of the PR industry, these experienced professionals have paved the way for us. The professionals at R/P laid a solid foundation for me to build upon my skills, and offered constructive advice along the way, which contributed greatly to my success both in and out of the classroom.

It’s both a blessing and a curse to be in a field that changes so rapidly. While there’s so much room for growth and new opportunities, there’s also pressure to keep up with trends and differentiate the idea with potential from the ones that may fall flat. I was fortunate enough to work with a team of people who encourage continuous learning, no matter what your title is, or how long you’ve worked in the industry.

Every internship experience is different, but it’s important to always go in with an open mind and an eagerness to learn as much as possible. My experience at R/P has been invaluable to my future career in PR and marketing and I’m so grateful for the opportunities I’ve had throughout my experience.