Earlier this week we had the opportunity to interview a current employee of the Indiana Chamber of Commerce. Symone Skrzycki is the communications manager for the Indiana Chamber and a writer for BizVoice® Magazine. This summer, she will celebrate 19 years of employment at the Chamber. Previously, Symone interned at the Johnson County Museum of History (then known as the Johnson County Historical Society) and WB4 Indiana. We asked her a series of questions about her internship experiences and how they helped her transition into a professional career.
Indiana INTERNnet: When and why did you decide to start searching for an internship?
Symone Skrzycki: The summer after my junior year. I wanted to get professional experience and at the same time, gain a competitive edge over the competition. I completed my museum internship that fall, and the one at WB4 Indiana the following spring.
IIN: What would you say was the most valuable thing you gained from the internships?
SS: The most valuable things were exposure to an office environment, handling deadlines and staying organized. Early on, I wanted to complete everything on my to-do list in one day, but I learned that’s not always possible. It’s better to break projects down into smaller tasks and track your progress. Also, don’t be afraid to make mistakes; it can be a valuable life lesson.
IIN: What advice would recommend to students searching for internships?
SS: The earlier you start, the better! Don’t give up on the job application process no matter how intense it gets. Believe in yourself and keep going. Once you secure an internship, find a mentor there to guide you.
IIN: How did you separate yourself from the competition when applying for positions?
SS: In-person interviews that allowed employers to see my passion and hunger for learning really helped. You can’t train enthusiasm. I also demonstrated how academic achievements in areas such as writing would translate to the workplace.
IIN: How did your previous internships prepare you for your professional career?
SS: Working at the museum helped develop my writing and research skills. At WB4 Indiana, I was the associate producer for a community affair show. I loved it! I was in charge of booking talent and creating content.
Shortly after earning a bachelor’s degree in English from IUPUI, I joined the Chamber as an administrative assistant for two lobbyists. Since then, I’ve had roles in our event planning and foundation areas. I joined the communications team 12 years ago.
My internships gave me the confidence that I have today in my work; professional writing experience, working with people, multitasking.
IIN: What career advice would you give to current students?
SS: When I was young, my dad said to me that the trick is to “find something you’re good at and like to do.” I’ve adhered to that wisdom. I’d also tell students not to be afraid to take ownership of projects. Stand out!
IIN: What would you have done differently?
SS: I would have applied for more internships and sought out more diversity industry-wise.
IIN: What is the hardest part about the internship process?
SS: Writing your resume and cover letter. They’re on a piece of paper or in an email – it’s tough to display your personality and passion. You can do it – and you have to do it – to be noticed. But it’s not easy.
IIN: How did you find your internship?
SS: Cold calls! I looked up companies I was interested in and contacted them to see if they were looking for an intern. I did the same thing with the Chamber. I created my own opportunities.