Friday, August 12, 2011

It Pays to Be an Intern at Kurman

A personal reflection
By: Stacey Nardozzi

According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), recent college graduates who participated in internships did far better than their classmates who had not had that experience. Most universities hammer into students the importance of obtaining an internship and some even make it a requirement for your degree.

One may think that sending your child to work at the family sub shop or a part time job at the mall this summer is more valuable than an internship, but trust me, the experience and knowledge one gains outweighs any job at the GAP (unless you want to be in retail, fashion merchandising or other related field).

With the depressed job market, opportunities for employment in for-profit companies and corporations are few and far between; this is especially true of the public relations industry. To secure that initial phone interview or even get your resume noticed, it helps to know someone on the inside, which is how I landed my internship with Kurman Communications, Inc.

My Public Relations Student Society of America Chapter (PRSSA) went on an agency visit there this past February and was introduced to Cindy Kurman and her team. At the time, they were looking for summer interns and I decided to send my resume and cover letter. I returned a month later for the interview and received a call notifying me that I had gotten the position.

With exams and Grand Rapids in my rearview, I looked to the Chicago skyline with anticipation and excitement for my internship with Kurman.

Little did I know it was going to be the most challenging, stressful, rewarding, crazy and fun summer of my life.

My initial thoughts of this internship were that I was going to be answering phones all day, fetching coffee for my boss and running errands; basically doing all of the grunt work. But boy, was I mistaken!

The Kurman intern position is anything but typical. Some of the tasks that I completed during my 15 week tenure with Kurman included:

• Yes, I did do tasks such as answer phones, took a valuable member of the Kurman team, Truffle their 6-year-old Bichon, for a walk and sorted through newspapers; it all comes with the territory

But I also:
• Managed 4 Facebook and Twitter client accounts by writing, responding to direct messages, comments and distribution of the client messages

• Wrote and distributed media alerts for client events; one resulted in a closing color spot on the
10 p.m. ABC 7 newscast

• Made lots of media follow up calls

• Built media contact lists to add to the database

• Wrote quite a few pitches resulting in clients being mentioned in a late night dining story in the Chicago Sun-Times and a Summer Drinks story in the Daily Herald

• Attended and worked at some fabulous events

• Experienced some of the best dining in Chicago; just one of the perks of representing restaurants

• Getting the opportunity to meet people like food critic and founder/moderator of, David Hammond, food reporter on ABC’s Hungry Hound, Steve Dolinsky
and Jennifer Olvera, food critic and author of the Food Lover’s Guide to Chicago: Best Local Specialties, Markets, Recipes, Restaurants & Events

• And…used Google alerts to track and find client media placements

Overall this experience has taught me a lot about PR. It was stressful at times, but that’s the nature of the business! I have made a lot of great connections in Chicago, gained a better understanding of writing for the media and learned things about social media that I didn’t know even though I am immersed in it every day. I have become a person that obsesses over every detail but I’ve gained some of the best PR knowledge that anyone could ask for. I know what this experience has taught me and instilled in me, I know that I have a passion for PR.

Encourage your children and friends to pursue an internship in his/her chosen career field. Don’t be short sighted. You couldn’t buy this kind of experience. A good internship far outweighs a menial summer job. It could lead to full-time employment offers from the company of the internship or at another via a recommendation. Internships instill a quality work ethic, knowledge of the career that cannot be taught in a classroom and a chance to do work that they are passionate about. My internship at Kurman Communications, Inc. has been a valuable experience and I am grateful that my family supported and encouraged me to pursue this opportunity.
Photo 1: At the Chicago French Market Cooking Channel Truck event
Photo 2: The Kurman Staff outside the office
Photo 3: ABC 7 at the Green City Market
Photo 4: Intern Farewell luncheon at Ethyl's Beer & Wine Dive

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