The real value of internships

As a student of Public Relations, I hear about networking and internships an awful lot. Everyone is always talking about how important networking and internships are, and that people need to do it as much as they can.

Personally, I was always a little confused about what networking even was, until I listened to Nick Rovisa (@NickRovisa) speak at the Social Media and Communication Symposium at the Rochester Institute of Technology at the end of September, and met him afterwards.

Nick gave a presentation at the event about how he landed his job at a New York City PR agency, Ruder Finn. The presentation was called, “Social media + IRL = a job! A real life success story,” and you can see it here: http://www.slideshare.net/nickrovisa/social-media-irl-networking-a-job-a-real-life-success-story.

I’ll let you look through the presentation for yourself, but besides using an awesome quote from Jay Z to open it, the main point of the presentation was that active and consistent participation, or what Nick’s friend John Exley (@JohnExley) would call “hustle,” leads to opportunity.

This all meant a lot to me personally because I have always dreamed of working in Public Relations or Advertising at a big, Manhattan-based agency. I think that I would love the fast-paced life, and it would certainly be much different than the rural LeRoy, NY that I grew up in. And so, when I started noticing the similarities between myself and Nick, I started to get a little excited about the success that he experienced!

First of all, Nick’s journey began at a company called Break the Ice Media (@Break_TheIce), which is the company that I worked for this past summer as an intern. Considering the relatively small size of Break the Ice, it was quite coincidental that his story began at the same place that mine has.

Second, Nick loves Social Media, just like I do, and using it actually created a huge job opportunity for him. That means that all of the tweeting, checking in, and connecting that I do on a daily basis might actually be worth something to me one day!

The networking that Nick stressed in his presentation intersects with internships because you can’t do one without the other. Through my internship with Break the Ice, I met more important people than I can count. In fact, it led to my next internship at the George Eastman House (@EastmanHouse), which I’m excited to start in the spring. It also allowed me to meet some contacts from Quinn and Co. (@QuinnandCo), another Manhattan PR agency.

Maybe Quinn and Co. will be my ticket to New York, like Ruder Finn was for Nick, and maybe it won’t be. What is for sure, though, is that interning doesn’t just give valuable work experience, pieces for a portfolio, and college credit… It also opens countless doors through networking opportunities. I know that one day, my destination will be the end product of a journey that started with networking from Break the Ice.

Whether it’s paid or unpaid, big or small, exciting or boring… always remember how valuable an internship might end up being. You never know who you will meet and who you will impress. And one day, that internship could end up being the starting point for the dream job that you land!

“Hustle, Rinse, Repeat.” – Thanks for the advice, Nick!

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6 thoughts on “The real value of internships

  1. Hey James man I appreciate the shout out here.. even though I know the biggest ups definitely go to our boy Nick Rovisa for including me as an example in the first place!

    We’ve become fast friends and lemme tell you something, there is a strong loyalty we have for Rochester and all the hustlers back home in the 585… so I’m glad to help ya someday if I am able.

    A bit of a shout out to Nick – check this out, I was in need of a place to crash on short notice once over the summer and without hesitation Nick took me in and let me crash at his apartment AND hooked me up with a dope breakfast the next morning on the way to work (with his cousin btw, who is def a hottie haha, forget her name tho…). So, Nick is the real deal and a genuine good friend bro.

    Also, I’d def recommend setting up Disqus as your commenting system here on your blog. WordPress works pretty good though if you’d rather not change, but I think Disqus is the best and the most engaging.

    Lastly, you need to execute man. Networking is very important, relationships are HUGE and will set you apart… but if you don’t have the evidence that you can do what you say you will do (and do it well), the networking will get you almost nowhere. So, research like CRAZY to figure out exactly what you like about the company you’re most interested in, focus on it and show up to your interviews with ideas already sketched out, potential solutions to problems you saw in your research of their customer support forums, etc. etc. etc. And, like you are doing right here – WRITE BABY WRITE. If you’re not technical, look into Codecademy.com and/or TeamTreehouse.com and see if you can pick up some programming and/or design skills. With your writing, explore things that interest you and ‘research them in public’. Write about what you’re learning, and ask for advice!

    Also, I like how you tweeted me to let me know I was featured in your blog. That was smart man. However, the link you gave in the tweet only went to your ‘blog itself’ as opposed to the actual blog post. Make sure you click on the title of your post and copy+paste the URL for the post into the tweet, not just your blog’s URL (cuz that can be confusing). I’d also recommend perhaps tweeting the post to the individual without “/Cc’ing” all the other people too so that it doesn’t feel like spam and so that it’s more personal with me that you are creating a personal dialogue with me not just a group “FYI” tweet, ya feel me?

    Better yet, do some digging and pull up the email addresses of the people you included as examples here and drop them a super short, humble but clear and informative email with a link to your post and let them know in the subject line (if they aren’t like, uber successful… e.g. I wouldn’t write an email to Michael Arrington of TechCrunch letting him know that I just wrote a blog about him haha) that you just wrote about him/her.

    Keep doing what you’re doing, but read a TON more than you already are so that you can soak up stuff and recognize people’s name in the industry and get your blog to a new level every couple weeks. Hyperlink the Twitter names you mention btw!

    Never stop the hustle mate… but take a step back and learn to prioritize properly too!

    Take care,

    john X

    • Shoooot boss, I should mention that I wrote a super-detailed story about how I got my dream internship with Hashable here: http://blog.hashable.com/2011/05/02/for-the-love-of-hashable-welcome-john-exley/

      Perhaps this might be helpful as you chase your dream internship/job in New York!

      Also P.S., lot of very good girl friends of mine go to Brockport! If you know Christian Case, Brooke Greer, Mindy Arnold, or Lindsay Johnson tell ’em I said what’s up!

      Thanks again for the shout out in your story above. Take care and keep hustling.

      – John X

    • John, thanks so much for the great advice, definitely some great feedback. If you come back to this blog in a few weeks, you will be very pleased to see some changes that you suggested!

      Also, Brooke Greere plays soccer here with my girlfriend, I actually just met her the other night! Small world, man!

      • You got it boss, glad to hear that. Drop me a DM on Twitter when you publish some of the changes and I’ll swing by and check ’em out for sure.

        That’s crazy you know Brooke man, next time you see her, call her “Echo” and tell her how we chatted here and stuff. She’ll get a kick out of it man. One of my oldest friends she is. In fact, to this day I write “ECHO” on every single pair of socks I own for good luck and to shout her out.

        Also, my boy Andrew Whelehan also goes to Brockport, and Kyle Sanders and his girlfriend Steph Hotchkiss, not sure you know any of them… but a bunch of good friends of mine from back home go to the ‘port mate. Haha holla soon – john X

  2. I like the blog James. Playing devils advocate, I wonder if the speaker you mention has any tips for making networking efforts not seem like an attempt to constantly be making a “Plan B”.

  3. Joe,

    I actually just saw this comment so sorry for responding so late. Can you please provide some more detail as to what you mean? I had a clear goal in mind and all of my networking efforts revolved around that goal, or that “plan B” as you mentioned.

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