In my mind, the surefire way to know how someone feels about their organization or profession is the expression on their face when they talk about it. And as someone who couldn’t be happier about interning with Pierce Public Relations, that plays out with a smile on my face and a sparkle in my eye when I brag on my company to my peers and friends.
I find myself often citing a few things in particular as the focal points of what makes this internship so important to me, and nothing comes up as often as the simple way that my coworkers don’t just assign tasks to me, they bring me along with them so I contribute as I learn. Too often, I hear about my peers’ internships that take advantage of their hours to simply get the grunt work done without paying much mind to the importance of involving interns so they can learn how to contribute meaningfully. But at Pierce PR, every single hour I work is fulfilling. Every task I complete is part of our strategy. And that’s because my coworkers value what I bring to the table – not just my availability to do work.
I’m over five months into my internship, with several more to go. To say I’ve picked up some know-how along the way would be an understatement, but I’m sharing some of what I’ve learned and reflecting on the power of asking for what you want out of your work.
Gratitude is essential
I’ve told the team more times than I can count that in the process of discovering and applying to Pierce PR, one of the most memorable things about the company was its statement of values. The one that resonated with me most is to simply be grateful, particularly because of the intentionality behind the gratitude that defines our company. That means more than just saying a casual thank you to a coworker when they assist with a task – it’s about making it crystal clear to the treasured members of our team that their work is essential and appreciated at every turn. I once told President and Founder Julia Bonner that I’d written about this very idea in a journal for my authentic leadership class, saying that her own authentic leadership propelled by these core values, especially gratitude, inspires me to emphasize the value of gratitude in my own life outside of work.
The whole team is greater than the sum of its parts
I recall a time only weeks ago that, with a pair of seasoned Pierce PR veterans out of the office and an especially mind-boggling software issue affecting our ability to send a timely email on behalf of a client, I was one of three team members who landed on what amounted to a near hour-long Zoom call, sharing screens and trading ideas to find the source of the problem. I can say for certain that I would not have been able to track down the problem alone, but thanks to the combination of perspectives between Mckenzie Masters, Carson Grace Burchette and myself, we found the issue and got that email sent. It’s times like those – when I’m “in the weeds,” so to speak, with a number of other team members, a shared goal in mind, up against a timetable and with little clue how to conquer an unexpected issue – that I think our drive to succeed shines through.
Be transparent, because things will go wrong sometimes
Picture this: It’s a bright and lovely Wednesday afternoon and your internship shift is set to wrap up at 4:00 before you head to a night class. As you’re putting the finishing touches on a brief task of reorganizing some files in a team account, you see a stray folder that apparently has nothing in it, so you hit the trash icon to send that folder into digital oblivion. But…oh, no. That folder actually had several dozen designs from past and current social media campaigns. And this platform, regrettably, doesn’t have a feature to recover a recently deleted folder. I am, of course, the person in question who accidentally deleted that folder. Fortunately, the designs themselves were not lost, but I was still sick to my stomach at the thought of having set the team back in any way. But due in large part to the gentle, empathetic nature of our Pierce PR company culture, I knew without a doubt that the only course of action was to immediately jump on the issue and own the fact that I’d blundered. And that was about more than just claiming a mea culpa – to me, it was important to also come to the table with any and every possible solution to the problem I’d caused. I looked into ways the designs might be retrievable, contacted customer support for the platform we were using and, most importantly, made a point to express to the whole team my gratitude to the incomparable Bri Carlesimo for helping guide me through the problem while she retrieved the lost files. I think it’s common sense to take ownership for mistakes on the job, but I can’t emphasize enough the importance of asking for help rather than trying to fix everything alone. With a team that brings you along the way my team does for me, there’s no problem that can’t be fixed.
Ask for what you want in your career
If you actually ask for what you want to get out of a work experience, it might just be in the cards. Weeks ago, as I realized I was well past the halfway point of the agreed-upon timeframe for my internship, I was really starting to get disappointed by the reality that the end date of April 28th was sneaking up before too long. What I wanted was simply more time to learn and to contribute. After a moment of trepidation about asking to extend my internship into the summer, I realized I had nothing to lose and everything to gain by asking for what I wanted. I got on a Zoom call with Director of Operations Sarah Mickle and stated simply that I was hoping that the end of April didn’t have to be the end of my internship. And as it turned out, Sarah and I were more or less on the same wavelength, so I’m happily staying on over the summer. I was grateful to hear that my work so far had reflected my passion to advance the company’s goals, and proud to know that my effort had paid off such that my personal aspirations to continue as an intern were in line with the company’s desire to move forward with me on board. Sure, it’s possible I might have received an invitation to remain on the team even if I hadn’t asked Sarah to connect about my future, but as we’ve all heard before, you don’t know what you might be missing if you don’t ask.
And what do all of these learning opportunities have in common? They’re the result of being brought along by an uncommonly talented group of coworkers and supervisors. I’m beyond lucky to have received an extraordinarily strong internship experience, and that’s thanks to the compassion and kindness of the Pierce PR team. These amazing women don’t just ask me to do work – they inspire me to do my best work.
Evan Dorian is an intern at Pierce Public Relations.