Marais Jacon-Duffy graduated from Butler University in Dec. 2014 with a degree in journalism and political science. She is the social media and technology intern with the Indiana House Republican Caucus. In this role, she assists in monitoring and managing caucus social media accounts, creating content, takes photos, videos, and writes press releases.
Flashback to November 2014: I am a month away from my college graduation. I recently accepted an offer to intern with the Indiana House of Representatives Republican Caucus. I couldn’t be more thrilled—for four months I will be in the thick of politics, at the center of news coverage and seeing first-hand what goes into the operations of the state government.
The politics and news junkie in me couldn’t wait to get started.
This would be my first experience in public relations ever. I had never taken a class on public relations, strategic communications or social media—I had never even written a press release. Would the learning curve on such basic PR cornerstones slow me down?
While it is, arguably, a good quality to have high self-expectations, it is understood at any workplace that interns are learning and growing. Likewise, staff are also learning and growing. People make mistakes, and while you can’t anticipate mistakes, any reasonable person will forgive them.
As my internship with the Indiana House Republicans is now winding down to the final few weeks, I find myself ready to take on anything. The last three months of interning have flown by in a blur of social media clips, press releases, press conferences, legislative session, amendments, committee reports and infographics.
Being an intern is hardly glamorous, no matter where you go. But after all is said and done, an intern has experience to show for their work.
Tangible portfolio items are great, and there’s a good chance that you’ll walk away from any (decent) internship with a few new pieces to show off your skills. I will certainly leave my internship at the House with lots of design and writing samples to carry into job interviews.
However, not many interns have the opportunity to eloquently explain that they were in the thick of real action. Interns with the House Republicans, like myself, will definitely get to boast about moments when we held real responsibility.
During my time at the Indiana Statehouse, a few bills gained national attention. While the media attention was a little overwhelming, I quickly realized how valuable my experience would be. National news stories were posted every minute and social media clips increased exponentially. Reporters were everywhere, asking questions, wanting data, wanting answers. I saw, firsthand, how to handle crisis communications. After this, my confidence to handle stressful situations has soared. Undoubtedly, the lessons I learned during my internship with the House will be something I can talk about in job interviews for the rest of my life.
In sum, challenges during an internship are well worth the short-term challenges they present. Young people intern to develop their skills and to gain experience that will benefit them in future careers. I certainly feel lucky to have had such an exciting experience at the House; I have learned more about myself and my ability to perform under high-stakes and step up to challenges, and I know that this experience will benefit me for many years to come.
What will you gain from challenges at your internship?