Why the flashiest internship isn’t always the best internship

By: Jensen Strandberg

Students bustle around the MLC nervously awaiting emails and phone interviews for summer internships from the second they return to campus after summer break. I was not one of these people. I am definitely not promoting any length of procrastination, but patience paid off. My perfect internship floated miraculously into my lap, and I couldn’t be happier.

I had dreamed of an internship in a large company in a big city, but I knew I preferred to be back home for my last summer as an undergraduate student. I applied around on various job-searching platforms, primarily LinkedIn. I used PRSSA’s helpful resources to pinpoint my search to a public relations-specific role, and I actively reached out to my professors for tips to seek professional contacts. I strategically sought summer employment, but nothing was working out; I was too narrow-minded.

At the University of Georgia, I am surrounded by brilliant driven students — but, we often have tunnel vision when it comes to applying for summer internships. That is, we search for a handful of positions limited to a single field, typically the field of our major. That’s exactly what I was doing. But expanding my application list to include a singularly business internship has led to an incredible professional experience.

Here comes a (rare) shout out to my big brother. Oftentimes, we fail to take advantage of the professional networking that can occur within our closest existing relationships. I hadn’t even thought to ask my brother, who works in the finance industry, for assistance in my job hunt, but a post on his LinkedIn profile brought me one step closer to where I am right now. The post was from Las Olas Capital Advisors, a small financial advising firm located in downtown Fort Lauderdale, FL, seeking a marketing intern for the summer. And so I applied.

The interview process was enjoyable; the small family firm, led by experienced trader Paul Tanner and his wife, was bubbly and welcoming. I knew I would fit right in. Upon accepting the position and beginning my “big girl” job, I learned more about my tasks. I would control their social media (thanks, PR), create marketing materials and content, and assist with daily administrative tasks. More than that, however, everything I did allowed me to absorb financial knowledge that I had never been exposed to. It was a crash course in real-life finance, and I had some of the best teachers right across the table. In addition, I was able to train the new marketing coordinator who came on weeks after I arrived — an experience that taught me about my leadership style and gave me marketable skills as a professional.

In addition to working on financial materials that were sent to prestigious clients, I also assisted in their philanthropy coordination. Las Olas Capital Arts is their philanthropic organization that assists and promotes local artists in the community. Working with incredible artists and promoting art shows was an unexpected perk of my internship.

As my summer winds down, I have this to pass on to others studying public relations: the best things come in unexpected places. This small organization lacked the recognition and flashy title I envied of other students, but the lessons learned and the experiences had were ones that I wouldn’t trade. I was able to use skills I have acquired at UGA — promotion, social media, graphic design — while tacking others onto my set as well — marketing and knowledge of financial jargon. Working for huge corporations, I’m sure, is an incredible experience. But smaller, humbler companies can provide you with room for growth and the chance to wear many hats, even ones you thought were not your style.