GUEST POST: Voice of the Intern

IStock_000006234405XSmallThis post was written by Laura Murray, a talented young intern at SHIFT.  As her tenure draws to a close, I asked her how it went, what she’d learned, etc.  She provided a written reply that we decided to turn into a blog post.

If you like what ya read here, remember that we’re still hiring at all levels.  In fact, at 3pm today we’re hosting a live chat if you’d like to interact directly with our HR folks.

Here’s Laura:

Like most PR students at Auburn University, the only thing left before graduation was my internship. After deciding to make the move from sunny Alabama to still-chilly-in-May Massachusetts, all I needed to do was send out a few applications and rock my interviews, right? Ha! I was up to my eyeballs in cover letters, resumes and agency Web sites. Some called, some e-mailed, but SHIFT did something much different.


I was recommended to SHIFT by one of my professors. I did my homework, too. I began following the company on Twitter and PR-Squared. Before I had even sent in my resume, SHIFT contacted me via Facebook wanting to set up an interview. Although a little disconcerted that I was being looked up on Facebook, I immediately realized the SHIFT difference.


After an interview, a few phone calls and a 19-hour drive, I was ready to show SHIFT how much I knew about PR.


Remember what it was like transitioning from the cool eighth grader to a freshman nothing? Well, it was a little like that. I went from a PR education know-it-all to a know-not-so much intern.


As the summer progressed, I transitioned into my role and into the company dynamic. I began attending training sessions and company meetings and started receiving projects from my teams. I enjoyed being around the happy SHIFTers, who were all eager to answer my questions and explain anything from agency lingo to database formatting.


There was only one problem. Where was all the glamour?


Most PR isn’t all that glamorous. Neither is being an intern. I wasn’t out hosting events and rubbing elbows with Boston’s finest. I was sitting at a computer researching, reading and writing. I was working on the press lists and briefing documents that no one else had time to do. I was researching blogs and publications for days on end.  It turned out that these tedious and (let’s face it) boring tasks are vital to an agency’s success. SHIFT employees who I work closely with have been great at showing me what these intern projects do for the client in the long run.


So, at times things can get a bit redundant for an agency intern. However, I have no doubt that my internship at SHIFT will help me in my future job search. I have learned how to pitch in ways most agencies would never think of. I have learned how to write better and pay attention to detail. I have worked under strict deadlines and time-crunches. I have juggled researching and writing for one client at the same time I am building a database for another. I have been included in team meetings, company brainstorms and have sat in on client calls and PR workshops. I’ve come in early and stayed late to get projects done. I’ve been so busy I could pull my hair out and so bored I could cry. But, hey- at least I wasn’t fetching coffee and dry cleaning.


My advice for any intern is to ask questions and get involved in the organization. You won’t learn anything by only doing what you’re told. At SHIFT I have already had many doors open for me and have had the opportunity to work with some of the brightest and most creative minds in PR. I look forward to my future in PR and know I will be taking a rocking portfolio and resume with me.


Posted on: July 31, 2008 at 10:23 am By Todd Defren
11 Responses to “GUEST POST: Voice of the Intern”


  • Laura Murray says:

    Thanks all for the encouragement and kind thoughts. My internship has been thought-provoking and invaluable in many ways.I am ready to embark on my next journey (moving back South and applying/networking/interviewing– ah!)with the endless knowledge SHIFT has given me.
    Work hard and speak up!

  • Kevin from Minneapolis says:

    Pretty much describes interning to a T.

  • Julie Power says:

    This post follows on something I just wrote about how to exploit teens and interns to do those boring, but necessary marketing jobs that you never ever have time to do yourself. And also to exploit their Websavvy (like setting up a Facebook account) and social media skills. And it also reminds me of an idea that someone gave me that I didn’t write up yet: Use interns to give you a frank outsider’s impression of the things your company does well and badly. Good luck with the next step of your career, Laura. You deserve to do well.

  • Celeste says:

    This was a great post. Good luck Laura!

  • Natasha says:

    Hi Laura,
    I’m currently into the second month of my internship at Chocolate Communications. I must say i have found the transition from theory to practice quite hard, so working within a group of individuals which are always helpful is a plus. I’m just worried that after this year of experience i’ll be quite hesitant to return to university for my final year!

  • Parker says:

    As a former intern of the former company from which SHIFT blossomed, I can understand a bit where Laura is coming from. Wonderful post, as it reminds me of when I was just an intern and everything was brand new. Thanks for the revival of the good memories!

  • Zach says:

    Would have loved to have caught the live chat – is this something you do often?

    As for the post above, it is interesting indeed to get an intern perspective. Funny that her preconceived notions seem to have been well in line with Cody’s recent post about the misconceptions that college students have of the PR world. Good to see that this hasn’t deterred Laura, as she was instead able to discover the real value that PR has. Good luck!

  • Laura,

    I really enjoyed reading about your internship at SHIFT. What you did sounds really cool. I had an internship last summer and I wish I did half the things you did. Unfortunately, I worked for a company without an established internship program. My business partner, on the other hand, had an experience similar to yours. It just shows how differently companies handle their internships. Because of our experiences, we were inspired to start

    I hope to see your rating on the site. I know SHIFT has an amazing internship program but it would be great if other students knew too!


  • C.C. Chapman says:

    A great post and a nice reflection on the job. I couldn’t agree more with the last paragraph and the statement of:

    “My advice for any intern is to ask questions and get involved in the organization. You won’t learn anything by only doing what you’re told.”

    This is true for any employee. Sure you sometimes end up getting your hand slapped, but in the long run it is always worth it.

  • Megan says:

    It’s great to hear Laura had such a positive experience as an intern. I was an intern too. Three times, actually. And rarely did any of these pre-work experiences attempt to integrate me into the company or give me much more than grunt-work to fill my time. It sounds like Laura was lucky to find a place at SHIFT. It’s so important for companies to foster young talent and give newbies a chance to join in, yet, now faced with the possibility of hiring my own interns, I see how it can be difficult to schedule the time to train these newbies, many of whom won’t be staying for more than a few months. How does SHIFT balance this?

  • Chris Norton says:

    Laura, Todd – great post. I have just read it out loud to our intern Claire and Beth Kay, our Account Executive, who found the similarities scary even from the other side of the pond. PR isn’t as glamorous as everyone likes to think and it can be boring, fun, challenging, tiring and exciting all in one day, which I suppose is why I am still doing it after nine years.

    Good luck with everything Laura.

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