Major Lessons From My Internship from a Soon-to-Be College Graduate

By Janelle Vaca, Winter Intern, Randle Communications

For the last three months, I had the opportunity to navigate the exciting and challenging world of public relations and public affairs as an intern at Randle Communications. As a soon-to-be communications graduate from Sacramento State, I believe the insights I gained from my internship positively shaped my understanding of the industry as well as my future career path.

From Pajamas to Professional: Balancing School and Work as an Intern

Navigating the landscape of the Sacramento communications world as an intern has been an adventure. As a full-time student, balancing the demands of school and work was a challenge, but I quickly adapted to the hybrid environment and learned to work effectively from home.

During my first day at Randle, I was met with a new industry lexicon of industry language and business acronyms including CTA, KPI, PAC, ROI and many, many more. But with the help of my colleagues and mentors, I studied and quickly picked up on the terminology. My colleagues were patient and happy to explain any concepts or acronyms that I didn’t understand.

My first piece of advice for interns is to always ask questions, especially if you are unclear of what something means. There are a lot of acronyms in PR, and it can be confusing at first, but asking for help from those who have been in the industry for many years is the best way to learn and grow in your role.

Lights, Camera, Impact: Behind the Scenes

One of the most exciting aspects of my internship was the opportunity to learn about the energy, effort and strategy of activities conducted behind the scenes. As a public relations/public affairs firm, much of our work to position clients, industries and issues happens behinds the scenes. I gained a new appreciation for the importance of this work and what it takes to support client partners and achieve their goals through strategic communications and advocacy. I was, as an example, extraordinarily proud to be a part of a team who supported the important work of a local health care organization. Together, we helped make a positive impact in the community, and I learned firsthand how vital PR/PA work is in shaping public discourse and educating key audiences. It was a great feeling to be a part of something bigger, and to see firsthand the positive impact that we had on the local community.

From Social Media Rookie to Messaging Master: Skills I Learned

During my time at Randle, I also developed a range of valuable skills that will be useful throughout my career. Not only did I observe the mastery of the firm’s senior digital strategist, but I also learned the importance of creating effective messages that match platform distribution and are generated from trusted ambassador voices.

I also practiced executing work while under tight deadlines, a valuable skill in any workplace, but a necessity in the fast-paced world of public relations and public affairs. Traditional and new media landscapes are full of evolving content and with issues rapidly and constantly changing, and I saw firsthand the importance of flexibility and time management to ensure tasks are completed on time. In an agency, things move quickly, and I learned to ask colleagues for specific timelines to help prioritize my tasks, and those timelines were frequently adjusted throughout the day. I’m grateful to my team for helping me learn more about prioritizing activities and perfecting the art of time management.

Carbs and Communication: The Importance of Building Relationships

Networking is key in public affairs and public relations to meet and connect with other professionals and industry players. I was fortunate that my internship included frequent mentorship sessions and daily engagement with members of the firm’s leadership team. We also enjoyed weekly all-team meetings to connect with other coworkers, usually over some morning bagels or other goodies. This streamlined my onboarding process and helped me feel more comfortable in the office right away. The regular networking events were always a highlight of my week because I loved having the opportunity to connect with professionals in my field and learn from their experiences. It’s essential to take what you learn about networking with you after your internship. As you continue to grow in your career, don’t be afraid to ask other professionals out for coffee or lunch, attend industry events, and stay connected with your former colleagues. The connections you make during your internship and beyond can be invaluable for your professional development and help you succeed in the field of public affairs and public relations.

Lessons Learned and Future Goals: Reflecting on my Internship

Looking back on my internship at Randle, I’m proud of everything I learned and grateful for the experiences I had. I’m especially thankful for this introduction to the professional world, which will help me further my future in communications. My team gave me a head start on how to use programs that I will use for the rest of my career. Thanks to Randle, I feel more prepared and confident than ever as I embark on my career in the communication field.

If you’re considering an internship in public relations or public affairs, I can’t recommend Randle highly enough. It’s a challenging and rewarding environment that will help you develop valuable skills and make a positive impact on the community.