A Summer of PWR: Applying Academics to a Real-World Internship

Maggie Miller ’16 – ENG, PWR and CRW Majormm2

This summer, I had the opportunity to complete an internship as a Marketing Project Manager at FMI Corporation in Raleigh. FMI (http://www.FMInet.com) is a consulting company for the construction and engineering industry, and one of its main services is offering courses on how those in the industry can better manage, sell, etc. Over the past 30 years, the veterans of the office have consistently taught about 40-50 different courses. The challenges is that these courses are mostly in their heads. There exists very little literature on most of them, besides the stray agenda or proposal on the company drive. My job at FMI was to gather all of the existing information on each course and compile it into a two-page, informational slip-sheet that included the title, summary, benefits, agenda, testimonials, and contact information for the course. I wrote the summaries and benefits based on information that I found on the company drive. The rest I took from the existing sources and edited. These sheets could then be used externally as marketing tools and internally as organized, course information sheets.

This project allowed me to develop my professional skills in a way that my activity in a classroom could not. I gained experience in organizational and question-asking techniques, as well as a dramatically increased my self-confidence. I also had a chance to really practice some of the skills I had learned in the classroom, particularly in developing a strategy for completing slip-sheet content.

At the beginning of my project, I read over the only three existing slip-sheets to try and determine tone and length and made mock-ups of a few sections, which I went over with my manager make sure I had the right idea. The rest of the summer fell into a rhythm of combing through the company drive for existing information, editing that information, filling in missing pieces with my own writing, and then sending it to be reviewed by either my manager or the veteran who developed the course. Once I received feedback or revisions from them, I made necessary changes, did final read-throughs, and submitted them to the company designer, who put them into templates.

If I had to boil down this massive, seven-week process into a few tips, they would be as follows:

  1. Prepare yourself for disorientation by knowing that it’s coming, looking at every failure/stressor as a learning experience, and being confident in yourself and your ability to overcome.
  2. Respect your managers and supervisors while remembering that you also have particular skills and experiences that they may not. You were hired for a reason, and even though you’re there to learn, you have a right to speak up with your own ideas.
  3. Keep yourself organized. Find a system that works for you, and stick to it. This will help you stay on track as well as visualize how far you’ve come.
  4. Spend time reflecting on your experiences. If you’re taking your internship for college credit, put thought into your check-ins with your professor. If you’re not, find someone you can talk about your experiences to. This will help you digest them yourself and better use them in the future.

Overall, I see this project as incredibly foundational for me. The scope and complexity of it were the largest I ever encountered in my professional or academic career. This allowed me to develop organizational, communication, and systematic skills as well as an increased confidence in my professional abilities. I have already seen these skills come into play in academic and professional settings and believe that they will continue to develop as I progress in classroom and career. My ease with certain skills has increased, as well as my belief in my ability to use them well.



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