The following is a post from Pyxl’s spring social media intern, Julia Suddath.
Sometimes I think interning has the same effect as immersion language training. When I studied abroad in Nantes, France in the spring of 2008, I definitely experienced culture shock. I quickly found out that the 7 years of studying French in school had not quite prepared me for the reality of being completely immersed in French culture. You can only get so far knowing how to say things like, “I like cheese,” or, “The monkey is in the tree.” Sentences like that just don’t seem to work in most situations. I’ve had a few internships now, but I had a similar reaction during my first internship.
However, sixteen hours worth of college credit taught in French, a host family with five kids, and plenty of adventures in the “City of Light” increased my knowledge and proficiency with the French language immensely. In my, albeit somewhat French, opinion, internships are the immersion experiences that college students need in order to gain significant proficiency in the field of their studying.
Deep & Wide
It is important to remember that an internship is more than being able to put down acquired skills on a resume. It’s not just about going deep into your particular area of interest or expertise. Part of it is getting the chance to go wide by joining the office as a whole, learning about the facets that make up an industry and immersing yourself into the office culture.
I’ve had previous internships where I’ve had an office to myself and I was e-mailed writing tasks, research inquiries, or a list of contacts to get in touch with, but very little interaction with the other departments that make up the organization. Don’t get me wrong, these internships were incredibly valuable. The reality is, though, when marketing a brand, putting on an event, or publicizing breaking news, it is usually a team effort. (So, yes, the group projects you do in school are, in fact, important.) We need design and development in addition to marketing and PR, but none are mutually exclusive.
So, here at Pyxl…
Pyxl immerses all of its employees and interns into a cooperative culture. Though most of the words that come out of the developers’ mouths might as well be a foreign language to me, and I could never dream of designing a concept cool enough to compete with the ideas of the design team here, the amount of information I have learned through simple proximity to the whole team has been immense. Actually, I get the best of all worlds as the social media intern. Researching trends in the entire industry using social media is part of my job!
Granted, we will all be in the same boat at one point or another—in a new internship trying to keep up with the established culture. A culture like the one here at Pyxl cannot be grown in a university setting. But as you look outside of your life as a student toward internship experiences, don’t forget to ask about the office culture and don’t be overwhelmed if it seems like you aren’t up to speed with everything. The fact is you have been studying this. So, its time to quit hanging out in the shallow end and jump in!