Internships: Turning the Bad to Good

We have all heard the internship stories- the good, the bad, the ugly.  As one of our experiential learning requirements, internships at Elon University are heavily pushed and with good reason.  Students gain real-world experience of their possible profession or interests, expand their network opportunities, and potentially gain school credit.

But what happens when our internship expectations are incongruent with reality?  Senior English major in the Professional Writing and Rhetoric concentration Julia Realmuto who was a marketing intern for the Food Network Magazine in New York City experienced just that.  Read this Q & A with Julia to learn about her experience and later find some tips on making the most of your internships:

What was your internship?

I was a marketing intern for The Food Network Magazine in New York City.  I worked with the CMO and the Director of Integrated Marketing.

How did you receive this internship and get involved with the Food Network Magazine?

From a connection my mom had through her work. Her company advertised in the FNM. I also had more past experience than many other applicants.

What were your responsibilities while at the magazine?

I reported directly to the magazine’s Executive Director of Marketing.  I also participated in meetings to develop client added value programs, discussed new advertisers and page additions and supported the Integrated Marketing Director who liaised with The Food Network television division to create a 360 degree program within the magazine, network, and online components.

What was your favorite part of the internship?

I love to cook and am constantly watching the Food Network, so it was really great to be a part of a magazine centered on food that also incorporates the celebrity chefs I admire.

Was there anything you didn’t like about it?

I was an intern during the summer of 2010 right as the magazine was starting, so their internship program was not clearly thought out and there would be days where I would be given a lot of responsibility and others where I was not. Moreover, my department-marketing- was driven by the bottom line…selling ad space. That being said, there were times when I would have liked the position to be more creative and less about making a profit. However, I realize that is inevitable especially in the field I was working within.

How did your internship connect to PWR?

A variety of different aspects, persuading people to purchase the magazine through visuals, layout, content, etc. Understanding our audience and then being able to pair advertisers in the magazine that would connect and make and impact with our readers. Coming up with a purpose for each issue, and integrating the magazine with the network and online components of the Food Network brand. 

What was the most valuable thing you gained from the internship?

Having the ability to learn that the magazine industry isn’t necessarily where I would like to ultimately have a long time career.

That being said, do you have any advice for others’ trying to gain internship experience?

Be proactive. It is never too early to start looking for internships. And use connections.  That is the best way to get your foot in the door.

Though Julia did not have a wholly positive experience at her internship with The Food Network Magazine, the practical involvement helped her determine future career choices.

Senior Career Advising Fellow Ashley Pinney encourages Elon students to make the most of their internships by following these twelve steps from Quintessential Careers:

  1. Set Personal Goals
  2. Have Regular Meetings with your Supervisor(s)
  3. Tackle all Tasks with Enthusiasm and a Positive Attitude
  4. Avoid Negativity
  5. Never Shun a Chance to Learn More About the Company/Industry
  6. Get as Much Exposure as Possible
  7. Don’t be Afraid to Ask Questions
  8. Take Initiative
  9. Find a Mentor
  10. Network, Network, Network
  11. Leave with Tangible Accomplishments
  12. Enjoy Yourself

Read more about internship success here.

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