Written by Aiste ꕤ
This August I finished my first ever internship in the real company, where I faced many challenges and got to see how the inside world of media works. The company that I worked for is a global organization, having its departments in various countries, including Lithuania. Thus, maybe I didn’t get to face as many different situations as I would probably have gotten to do in PR or communications agency, but I got to see how important communications is inside of every business and that without it, no company could operate successfully.
The journey of choosing an internship started around January when the assignment season was coming to an end and we had a little bit more time to chill and focus on other things. Why would you look for an internship instead of some part-time PAID job in the first place, you would ask? To begin with, not every internship is unpaid, however, when you don’t have a diploma, working in the field you’re studying is quite challenging. Thus, the majority of places that were doing summer internships, or at least the ones I came across with, were unpaid. I mean money-wise. This is where you start looking at other criteria. Experience? Yeah, I cannot think of another word, because anything I have in mind falls under this one notion. Experience. Any job, any activity, basically – everything you do is experience in a way, that will somehow benefit you in the future. No matter if it’s a pleasant one or the one you don’t really want to remember. Besides honestly loving my studies, that was the main and the only requirement/reason I had.
I applied to probably more than 50 different places all around the world. To be completely honest, Lithuania was my backup plan, since I was extremely ambitious to get it somewhere in the UK or even in the USA at first. I wasn’t applying through the university nor wasn’t it some kind of a placement program, so I did everything independently. I guess my ambitions were too big and I took it quite hard every time I received that email starting in a relatively sad way. At that time it felt like a failure. However, as Agne said, we need to learn how to fail and refuse to give up even when we feel like complete losers (see Agne’s post on learning to fail).
Hence, I got the in-house communications internship in Lithuania. One of the differences between working in a PR/Communications agency, as I imagine, is that by working for the latter you directly work with many communication specialists. Even though it might not sound like a significant fact, I do believe there is a huge difference between working with others on different projects for various companies and between working with only one person for 2 months straight and developing communication strategies for only one specific organization. Human connection and understanding of how to work together is also an important part of this experience that teaches you a lot. How amazing it is to learn from someone who has so much experience in the field and dedicates time to help you go all into this crazy industry?
My requirements for this internship weren’t high, really. I didn’t expect to be given responsible projects to complete on my own, to attend, organize or host important events. All I hoped for was to learn from the best and to immerse myself into the field. A lot of people from and outside of the university have shared their experiences of their first internships – making coffee all day long, throwing away the trash, or, if they got lucky, printing out the documents or translating the slides. I am a firm believer that there is no such thing as a bad job and you can always learn something, however, when you’re half way through your degree, you want some real-world experience in what actually interests you the most.
And so, my work was interesting. During the second year of university I realised that my favourite fields are crisis and internal communications, so I was secretly hoping to face at least one of them. And I got lucky! The most of the work and projects we did was all about internal communications. I don’t even know what’s better – to try yourself out in every single sphere for a bit or go in depth with one of them. However, now I’m happy things went the way it went, as I feel like I have so much more knowledge about the importance to reach out to your colleagues and to maintain the atmosphere in the company good, because at the end of the day, this is where it all starts. By doing internal projects and communicating with the staff you aim to build the trust and good relationships. It’s crazy though how challenging it can get. I guess the reason why it’s so complicated is because every person is different and unique, thus, it requires a lot of effort and knowledge to connect with them. There is no general rule or strategy, any fixed formula you can follow – that’s what makes it so diverse and exciting.
Regarding the jobs related to internal communications you can expect to get while working for a company are mainly the development of projects, organization of events and, of course, a lot of writing. Writing articles or posts for social media. Or doing presentations. You learn basics for planning the events, doing D-Day planning, budget counting and other needed knowledge in the university, but only after applying it in practice you notice how complicated and thorough it actually is.
One of, let’s say, fears I had before starting the job in Lithuania, was the terminology and a slightly different system comparing to what they have in the UK. However, I was pleasantly surprised when half of the tasks I did were in English, thus, I applied much more knowledge than I ever thought I could use in practice so soon after starting the internship. Therefore, throughout these months I not only got a chance to remember a lot of stuff I have already learned in the university, but also got to see the way it applies in Lithuanian context. That would be one of my tips – if there’s a chance to get a job in the international company – go for it. You will broaden your horizon and will be able to compare the differences and specific features every country has.
When my job ended and I had a bit time to reflect on it, I realised – I did learn a lot. I learned how important human connection is, how important creativity and uniqueness is. How important, but extremely hard it is to create something new and unseen, something exciting and engaging. Moreover, how hard and usually impossible it is to please everyone, but even harder to stay in your own path and take every word of criticism as a lesson rather than a failure. Thus, don’t get scared of the stress you might feel at the very beginning when you have no idea what is happening and what is your role there, because all of us have felt the same way at least in some point of our lives.
In the beginning of this post I mentioned that doing in-house communications internship is quite different than working for the agency. Stay tuned to hear more about that in Agnes post next week!