Alissa graduated in 2010 with a communication major and had an internship at the United Way of Central MN, St. Cloud, MN.
How did you find out about the internship and what was the application process like?
I found out about the internship through an email distributed through the CSB/SJU Career Resource Center and just sent in my application and cover letter.
What were some of the internship's highlights?
I thought it was really a great learning experience from a communication major standpoint; as a Communications/ Marketing Intern, I got to experience every aspect of what a communication or marketing department would do. We were very small, but I found that to be a more thorough and hands-on sort of experience as an intern. I had the opportunity to help plan/organize the Annual Day of Caring event and produced some of the marketing materials and writing pieces for it as well. I also had three stories published in the St. Cloud Times and had the opportunity to meet with individuals who help throughout the community and write pieces on them. Also, one of the most inspiring and motivating parts of this internship was the opportunity to tour other non-profit organizations and programs that United Way partners with to provide services. It truly was an eye opening and inspiring experience for me.
What was a 'typical day' like? What were some of your major responsibilities?
I worked the hours that a "regular" employee worked and so performed many of the typical office tasks (e.g. check email, follow up, work on projects, etc.). I always had something going on, whether it was a small task I was completing for my supervisor or working on a presentation to give to the entire staff.
What were some of the challenges of your internship?
Public speaking. For me this was something I haven't had a whole lot of experience in and something I have always dreaded. In order to complete the internship, one of the requirements is to give a presentation to staff on Branding and Marketing tools of United Way as a refresher course of sorts. I had an entire hour to myself to help refresh and teach employees that have been at the organization for up to 17 years! That was a bit of a challenge, or so I thought it was going to be. Turns out it really wasn't that bad!
What did you learn?
I learned a lot about creativity and using my resources to do the best I can with the project at hand. I learned that I really enjoy the non-profit world and hope to become involved in it in a full-time capacity. Specifically, I learned that marketing and communications is an absolute necessity for any and every organization.
What advice would you give other students interested in internships?
Always be sure to have an open mind, be ready to work hard, and be a great communicator to those who are there to help you. You never know when an opportunity will be at hand for your future. You will only take out of it as much as you put in and that can really make or break your internship experience. Remember, it's not a requirement, it's an opportunity.