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When Interning, Get Outside Your Comfort Zone

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By Andrew Willett

This past year one of my PR professors started every class with something she called “in the news”. We would go around the room and each student would have to share a quick synopsis of their news story. Our professor, Jill Stewart, drilled into our brains how important it is in PR to know what is going in the news, I can still hear her saying “know the news!!!”

Fast-forward to today, I’m the communications intern in DePaul’s Office of Community and Government Relations- every day I put into action what Jill taught me. Breaking down the office there are three divisions I work on: government affairs, community affairs, and America’s Urban Campus.

Wcolor (003) jpg auc neworking with government is where the importance of news comes in. We are constantly monitoring our state’s legislator as well as what is going on in city politics- there is never a dull moment in the Windy City. Aside from monitoring state and city governmental affairs, we also do a great deal of briefing and arranging meetings between/with DePaul administration and legislative officials. DePaul’s lobbying is also done and ran through our office in Chicago, Springfield, and Washing D.C.

From the community side our office is the one-stop-shop for community member and aldermanic officials. From events to issues management, we have a robust relationship with the residents and businesses of the Lincoln Park, Loop, and South Loop neighborhoods. We run multiple communications campaigns to our many community members, organization, and audiences for events happening at DePaul and the changes that come to our campuses. Events are no stranger to the communications industry nor our office. Each quarter we host two events- the Lincoln Park Research Initiative and Neighbor’s Night. Our office also attends                       city wide events to represent DePaul.

I’ve been fortunate enough to see many sides of the PR industry through this, and past, internships. This job has allowed me to get the flavor of working in-house, public affairs, and higher education. The hands on experience and heavy writing are proving to be an invaluable opportunity to practice writing about completely new subjects to vastly new audiences than what has been in my repertoire. Overall, this internship has been in a genre of PR that was totally new to me. But that’s what college is for. I encourage all PR students to intern in a multitude of industries and disciplines of PR to better understand what you enjoy and don’t enjoy. So get outside your comfort zone and remember to always know the news!

About the Author: Andrew is a rising junior majoring in public relations and advertising. He is the VP of professional development of DePaul University’s PRSSA chapter. Andrew has worked in variety of internships like public affairs, consumer, CSR, theater + arts, branded content creation, and video content creation. This past year (’16-’17) he competed in the Bateman Case Study Competition receiving honorable mention for his teams campaign, Tough To Be Tough. Andrew will be graduating in the spring 2019.

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