By Nicole Cimo, Towson University Class of 2012
Ever since I graduated high school, I’ve been told that college would be the most valuable learning experience of my life and I would ultimately graduate with an expertise in what is called my "major." Well, after interning with Feintuch Communications this summer, I became aware of how my major in public relations differs in an academic versus a professional world.
I've learned that there’s a big difference between knowing and understanding. From my experience thus far in college, my professors have led me through countless PowerPoint presentations, terminology and textbooks. Everything I’ve studied and memorized has been relevant for things I need to know, but it wasn’t until I landed my first internship at Feintuch Communications that I began to apply these to a real situation. Of course, being required to know and memorize the terms B2B, B2C, boilerplate, abstract, and Ed-Cal throughout my college years is all essential, but engaging in an internship is what gave me the hands-on experience to understand how these terms are actually implemented. For example, I’ve been taught since my freshman year that using media such as print and broadcast will help a client get exposure to core audiences. However, until I was given my first pitching task I never realized how clients actually receive exposure in a magazine article or interview. I had to research the client and industry, as well as the reporter to see if they would even be interested in our client. After numerous, persistent calls and voicemails, I ultimately landed my first media placement, which is something I would have never experienced in a classroom.
An internship is defined as a program designed to provide a learning experience for beginners in a profession, which is exactly what I gained this summer. Twice a week, I would commute and work my 9-5 day as if it were a full-time career. Not only did I acquire useful tips such as how important it is to ask questions and that every assignment counts, but I also attained a great deal of knowledge from attending my first trade show. All colleges should require some type of internship prior to graduation. This experience gave me valuable practice for the future and allowed me to grasp the world of PR better than any textbook, which is something I wouldn’t have been able to achieve from college alone.