internship recap stephanie lasica

Surviving and thriving through a virtual internship

Let’s play two truths and a lie:

I interned at one of North America’s largest and most acclaimed independent communications and engagement firms. 

I thrived each day, building new relationships, developing new skills and growing my confidence.   

I survived my virtual internship alone in my basement, with nothing but a notebook, computer and a trusty CP Style Guide. 

Can you guess the lie? Keep reading to find out. 

Securing an internship at Argyle  

As a Humber College public relations student, an internship is a must-do to complete the program. 

After having a guest speaker from Argyle  address my public affairs class, I stumbled across an internship opportunity at Argyle on Humber’s online career portal. (That’s a lie. I didn’t stumble. I searched with purpose.)

I crossed my fingers as I  submitted my resume and cover letter, and a few days later, I received an email from the internship coordinator, inviting me to the office for an interview. My application and interview process took place pre-pandemic. 

I did what my professors told me to do. I dressed my best, took my writing samples and researched my interviewers – the two internship coordinators. Even so, I was nervous. 

To my luck, I had a great conversation. I was always told that an interview should be a two-way conversation, and this was my first time experiencing that. I felt comfortable, safe and respected. 

Luckily, I made it to the second round of interviews, met two more faces and had another exceptional conversation. 

Walking out of both interviews, I knew this was the internship I wanted. I could hardly contain my excitement. I am sure I used one too many exclamation marks in my post-interview thank you emails and cards. 

After Argyle spoke with my references, I was offered one of two positions as a PR intern. The entire process took no more than three weeks. 

Work environment

Pre-pandemic, Argyle set my internship to begin in-person, in May. Not knowing what tomorrow could bring during a global pandemic, Argyle decided to postpone my internship start date to July. 

I completed my internship from the comfort of my home while the agency ensured I had access to the necessary tools to survive and thrive. 

My first few weeks were spent on training, onboarding and getting to know the team. I was fortunate that my co-intern, Marlee Socket, was also my Humber PR classmate. 

Together, we scheduled Zoom calls with each new colleague. We made an effort to get to know them on a professional and personal level. My go-to question was always, “what is your favourite TV show.” As an avid popular culture fan, I think you can tell a lot about a person by asking that  question. 

My daily tasks included drafting pitches, crafting targeted media lists, contacting influencers, media monitoring and researching. Being assigned tasks virtually can be difficult, but it was up to me to over communicate, ask questions and ensure that I followed up throughout the task. 

I completed the smaller tasks with a big smile and an even bigger thank you. This helped me build trust with my team members, and soon enough, I was working on more significant tasks with confidence.  

Despite the circumstances of being separated by kilometres and screens, my work environment was more than pleasurable. From trivia nights, Zoom hangouts and Slack chats, I felt a part of the team.

Overall, the entire team was welcoming and did their absolute best to help me as I built new relationships, developed new skills and grew my confidence.   

Technical skills

Argyle’s internship program provides real, hands-on learning opportunities. Interns can build technical and interpersonal skills while acting as a key member to  Argyle’s practice groups. 

  • Media monitoring – I learned to use media monitoring and listening tools effectively. Programs like Cision, MRP and Pulsar became second nature. I really enjoyed my daily media monitoring and became a subject matter expert for specific news cycles and beats in a short time.

For one client, my daily responsibility was to monitor mentions in the media, highlight any COVID stories that can impact the client or its community, and flag news stories that could be of use to the client. 

  • Community management – I gained an understanding of the importance of a brand’s essence and a constant brand voice. By engaging community members via social media platforms, I learned that having an ear to the ground (or to Twitter) was necessary to see what was happening from the consumer’s perspective. 

Advice for future interns

Many of Argyle’s current employees began their careers as interns with the company. 

My advice to future interns is simple – make an effort, raise your hand and let your passion shine. 

My co-intern, Marlee and I authored an advice blog post, Insights from the Interns: Joining the PR Industry – Virtually. The blog features six ways you can survive and thrive during your remote PR internship. Check it out. 

Final thoughts

When getting to know your colleagues in a virtual environment, you must get creative. The intern supervisors did an amazing job, ensuring we felt connected to our teammates and the work we completed.

Now, let’s get back to playing two truths and a lie. 

I interned at one of North America’s largest and most acclaimed independent communications and engagement firms. True

Argyle has been putting big ideas onto the public agenda and communicating confidentially for over 40 years. 

I thrived each day, building new relationships, developing new skills and growing my confidence. True

Each day was an adventure filled with lessons learned. Without my internship, I would not be where I am today – a regional logistical and communications coordinator at Argyle.

I survived my virtual internship alone in my basement, with nothing but a notebook, computer and a trusty CP Style Guidebook. Lie

The notebook, computer and CP Style Guide helped, but I didn’t do it alone. I survived and thrived with the help and guidance of over 100 full-time professionals in major cities across the continent. Without them, I would not have seized the opportunities presented in front of me.

Just as it takes a village to raise a child, it takes a kick-ass company to host a successful virtual internship. 

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