Have you ever felt you were being thrown into the big leagues? Try being a media relations intern for an ROTC camp at one of the most renowned U.S. military bases in the world. Fort Knox, Kentucky is rumored to house our country’s gold and although I haven’t seen any gold, I have seen plenty of camouflage.
Applying for this internship I was confident of my portfolio, due to the pieces I gained from being an account associate for the ImPRessions Army and Air Force ROTC account. I had background with event coverage, the chain of command and LOTS of press releases. The opportunity to be a media relations intern for the ROTC’s Leader’s Training Course seemed like a perfect fit. I sent in my cover letter, resume and portfolio and then I waited.
After close to a month and a half of waiting, I got an email. I jumped out of my chair when I read that I had received the internship. Not figuratively jumped either, I literally knocked my desk chair over. I called my contact the next day within the allotted time, to verify my acceptance. When discussing the details, the public affairs officer whom I spoke to asked me how a freshman in college was able to put together such an extensive portfolio. My answer was simple; ImPRessions, the Ohio University student-run public relations firm. He sounded impressed, a very good sign considering I was dealing with the United States Army and I was just a freshman in Athens.
I’ve been in Fort Knox for close to two weeks now and thank ImPRessions every time I’m given a new assignment. My experience with the Army and Air Force ROTC account could not have prepared me better; my experience translated over perfectly. However, there are a few necessary things I’ve learned about taking on a big internship in my first weeks here.
Lesson 1: Make Friends. Friends are good to have no matter where you are, but when you’re working and living with 15 other interns for the majority of the summer, they’re essential. The last thing you need is drama from the hotel or wherever you’re staying carrying into the workplace. Getting along with everyone may be difficult, but it is totally worth the extra effort.
Lesson 2: Be Respectful, Not Intimidated. Coming onto a military base I knew that being respectful was going to be a huge part of the job. No matter whom you are dealing with, whether it’s another intern or a Major General, respect goes a long way. Just because you are respectful though, doesn’t mean you should be intimidated. No matter what the rank of the person you working with, it is your job to be there; act like it. Chances are they will respect you more and be more helpful if they realize you are serious about what you do.
Lesson 3: Do Not Let Anyone Underestimate You. Being a freshman, I am one of the youngest interns here. Most are going into their senior year of college or just graduated and many of them act like I am the baby intern. Although I may only be 18 years old (19 in three days), I have experience and I know what I’m doing. Letting them underestimate you will only make you believe what they’re saying. Take charge and prove your skills. Nothing feels better than having your boss ask you specifically for help on a job and nothing looks better than everyone else’s jaws dropping when you do well on an assignment.
Every internship experience is different: from the application process all the way through to the last day. I was lucky to have such extensive experience beforehand, but I still have a lot to learn. The best advice I can give to anyone starting an internship is “you get out of it what you put into it,” no matter how experienced your resume is before it will not benefit you unless you work hard and do your best. I’m looking forward to what the next two months hold for me.
-Rebecca Zook is a sophomore.