Despite the amazing resources and speakers I had access to my sophomore year at Ohio University, I could never motivate myself to actively seek a high profile summer internship. I had a list of possibilities posted by our chapter of Public Relations Student Society of America, yet none of them were my “dream job.”
Therefore, this past summer I woefully found myself back at my hourly ice cream job living with my parents. Yet all was not lost for my internship hunt. If there is one thing I have learned about the professional world from college, it’s that connections and networking are everything. It is never about what you know, it is who you know. A couple weeks into my spectacularly eventful summer, I found myself in the same household with a valuable connection.
My mother did grant writing for the Cuyahoga County Public Library and found an opening at their administrative office for an internship. Naturally the first thing I thought was what a library could possibly have to do with journalism, marketing or public relations. “Everything,” turned out to be the answer to that question.
During my three months with CCPL I got the chance to do marketing for their annual Writers Center Stage lecture series. When I looked at the flier and saw that the first author visiting was Michael Chabon, I knew that I was in the right place. I immediately read at least one book from every author and realized that although it was unconventional research, it was research nonetheless. And research, I realized, was everything in my time at CCPL. I researched authors, donors, local interest groups, foundations, other area nonprofits, as well as the library’s own catalogue system.
After taking Strategic Communications Research and Theory this past spring semester, I made the connection very quickly between my internship and my future career path. I also learned that any job, no matter what area, comes down to the people you work with. I was lucky enough to have amazingly supportive coworkers who talked me through all the new programs and formats I had to learn. I had the privilege to work alongside graphic designers, insanely smart librarians, fundraising specialists, marketing professionals, event planners, and of course my all-star Development Director supervisor.
Although I did not have the standard internship experience of working with Dix & Eaton or Fahlgren Mortine that most of my peers experienced this past summer, I could not be more happy that I took the risk to see the world from a nonprofit perspective.