On Friday my time as an intern with Abraham Harrison came to a close, and I remain overwhelmed by how much the experience has taught me and how all that I’ve learned is now influencing my career path. During my internship I not only gained new skills, but deepened my interest in social media and digital public relations and made professional connections that will continue beyond my internship. Since May is a time when many graduates reflect on their time at school, I figure I should do my due diligence and share a bit about my own journey with AH and my preparations for a new career.
Gaining New Skills
My first assignment on my first day on the job was to write a blog entry introducing myself on Marketing Conversation. Having never written a blog before, I was not completely confident just putting myself out there for everyone to read about – especially to an audience consisting of my new boss and work colleagues at Abraham Harrison as well as complete strangers who probably had years of experience in public relations on me. I worked on my first post for hours – making sure I was funny, authentic, yet professional at the same time. It was tough! However, as I continued to write subsequent posts I began to find my own voice. I did not have to be seen as a social media expert, but rather as someone who was learning about something new, and sharing my journey with readers. I was also encouraged to be as authentic and opinionated as possible. I was not to be writing a new story, but reflecting on the latest social media headlines and giving my opinion about it – just as a blog should be. This experience inspired me to start Daily Social to continue to develop my voice and personal brand.
I also learned to channel that authenticity into the social media marketing campaigns Abraham Harrison creates for clients. Blogger outreach, I learned, is not about email blasts to every blogger listed on Technorati, but is about providing targeted information to interested individuals in a personal and honest way. Interaction with the public through other social media channels should be approached in the same way – to learn, listen and build honest relationships within social networks, no matter if you are representing yourself, your company or your client.
Future Career Plans
One of the main reasons I decided to come to American University and pursue my master’s in public communication was because I wanted to do something new. Most early twenty-somethings coming from my previous job in international health and development go on to get their master’s in public health; but I wanted something different. Because of this, I came to school with a desire to take advantage of any opportunities that came my way, even if they weren’t related to public health (especially if they weren’t related to public health). So I arrived at American without any true 5-year plan, but a commitment to do my best to figure it out as I went.
Because of my internship with Abraham Harrison, I am excited (and even a bit qualified) to pursue job opportunities specifically related to social media. More and more we are seeing positions open up called “community manager” or “social media specialist” and these are the positions that I am currently applying to. I see social media and digital PR as really the cutting edge and future of communication as we know it, and I want to be marketable within that changing environment.
So thank you to everyone at Abraham Harrison who has patiently answered my 10,000 questions, given me challenging and worthwhile assignments, read countless drafts on my graduate capstone paper and offered me your professional advice, and most importantly, friendship.