“Making the Most of a Summer Without a Traditional Internship” by Alec Charron

“With the continuing development of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, we have decided to postpone the internship program for summer 2020.”

It’s a sentence many public relations students received in the early wakings of COVID-19 — a devastating blow to all students who have applied to internships over semester. I, for one, felt out of options. 

My next thought was, “OK, how do I make the best of this?” The task seemed impossible during such an unsure time. I had connections, but I wasn’t sure what to do with them. 

I reached out to people I knew with prior internships, looked at other freelance/volunteer opportunities and applied to some last-minute positions. Eventually, after talking with family and people in my community, I took up a role as social media coordinator at a local Pittsburgh nonprofit. 

My job was to run social media, plan campaigns and redo an outdated website; however, I was all alone in the planning and scheduling of my internship. This wasn’t going to be a traditional internship. 

So, I made the most of what I had. In my free time, I worked on the website, coordinated with the nonprofit board about other tasks and thought of possible blog ideas. Many of my ideas fell through or weren’t orchestrated how I would have liked — but I gained the experience of working on my feet and had the creative freedom to do what I wanted. 

What did I learn from all of this? I learned that your PR path is what you make it. There are plenty of opportunities and ways to use your voice in this industry. What matters is what you choose to do with it and how you leverage your skills. Getting your name out there is really what helps in the long run. 

It would have been easier to have landed a traditional PR internship this summer, but sometimes you have to make the most of what you have. 

Alec Charron is a strategic communication major and the V.P. of Social Media for Scripps PRSSA. Follow him on Twitter @aleccharron

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