June 6, 2013
“I took the road less traveled by…”
The career of public relations asks us to take a step outside the box. Through an unforeseen opportunity, I took a step outside of the internship box and onto the “road less traveled by” that led to offices of the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) District 1.
When thinking about public relations, most don’t associate it with highway construction and snowplowing. However, because I took the opportunity to be a Public Information Office Intern for ODOT, I have gained a new perspective on the limitlessness of PR, the importance of the work done by areas of the public sector and what it truly means to be versatile.
When I began, I didn’t know the first thing about construction. I didn’t know the terminology, the safety protocol or the purpose of the projects. On my first day, I attended orientation where I was briefed on basic procedure. They gave me an office, phone, computer, office supplies and a hard hat. My second day included going underneath I-75 and taking pictures of one of the largest culvert installations in ODOT history (basically, a huge drainage pipe). How many rising PR pros can say they have done that? I learned the terminology, I learned the protocol and I learned by experience.
There is only one Public Information Officer on staff per district. My supervisor, Rhonda Pees, is the Public Information Officer at the District 1 office and is constantly updating the public by means of press releases, multimedia presentations, photo stories, written articles, social media and community outreach events.
To my delight, Rhonda is someone that trusts me as a team member rather than her intern, and I have developed excellent portfolio pieces within a few weeks. I gained experience through these different areas of PR, and consider myself versatile in my skills because of this.
I have only worked for ODOT for one month, and I already feel like I could work there forever. The people are lovely, the work is challenging and interesting and I constantly grow as a person and a professional. That is the benefit that comes from taking on something new. The transformation within oneself is worth the courage it takes to get there.
“..and that has made all the difference.”
-Allison Evans is a junior studying strategic communications with a specialization in marketing. Keep up with her summer internship at ODOT at @Allison_Evans.