A Leap of Faith: How My Internship FORMed a New Career Path

  • Categories:

    Agency Life, Inspiration, Public Relations

  • Date:

    October 12, 2022

A Leap of Faith: How My Internship FORMed a New Career Path

Agency Life Inspiration Public Relations

According to a recent survey, 54% of college graduates don’t actually work in the field in which they studied. At first, that may seem like a negative stat, but that’s not always the case. In fact, many students get out into the real world only to find a career doing something they are even more passionate about.

That’s what happened for Wray Ward’s public relations and content coordinator, Alyssa Washington. As a senior journalism major at Winthrop University, Alyssa wasn’t sure where she would end up after graduation until she saw an email that highlighted Wray Ward’s FORM internship program.

Alyssa used this 10-week crash course in agency life and work as an opportunity to discover what she loved to do, even if it wasn’t what she imagined when she started college. Now she has a full-time career at Wray Ward, and she credits the FORM internship for helping her find her path.

I caught up with Alyssa to hear more about her story and experiences and how taking a step out of her comfort zone led to an exciting and rewarding new career.

How did your internship search lead you to FORM, and why did you apply?

It was the dreaded time of senior year when I was trying to figure out my life after college. Our mass communications department sent out an email blast with possible internships, and Wray Ward was on the list. The first thing that caught my eye was this fantastic new office, and the website made me feel seen because it used casual language — not industry speak. I also looked at the case studies and videos of their previous work and instantly wanted to be part of the team.

Even though I didn’t see a role that directly aligned with my major, I decided to go for it anyway and tried something related and interesting. I applied for the PR/content position, filled out the application and crossed my fingers. I thought my interview went well, and when I found out I got the internship, I was ecstatic.

What were your first few days as a FORM intern like?

Even though I was excited, I was super nervous. I’m not usually known for my punctuality, but I was so early on my first day I beat everyone else there. On day 1, I felt like a deer in headlights, but it was great to be there with other interns in similar situations. By the end of day 3, we all became more comfortable, partially because we interns began to get to know each other, but more important, people throughout the agency had gone out of their way to welcome us.

We knew what was expected from us very quickly. Just like syllabus day in college, I got a document that laid out my entire summer and the projects I’d be working on. Seeing it all planned out and understanding what would be required of me over the next few months helped me settle in.

What was the best part of your internship?

Choosing one thing is hard because there were so many great times throughout. I was grateful for the chance to work with We Rock Charlotte, doing real work to help a nonprofit that supports diversity and inclusivity.

I also loved the feeling of accomplishment at the end of my internship. Seeing the work I had created be used and appreciated gave me an incredible sense of comfort and self-confidence.

Tell me about a challenge you had to overcome during your time.

My college major was journalism, so public relations and advertising were new experiences for me. I immediately had to learn new terminology. I had no idea what the terms “paid, “owned,” “earned” or “shared media” meant, but I found out quickly. I needed to understand new service areas and what worked best with different social media accounts. It had been a few years since I’d written a press release in school, so I had to dust off those skills. Finally, this was my first full-time job, and I had to learn how to balance working and living on my own in a new city.

I am thankful that for every challenge, I had a great team at Wray Ward to support my learning and growth. Everyone was willing to answer my questions, breaking things down in a way that I could easily understand concepts that were new to me. The level of expertise and information that we had at our disposal going into projects made trying new things more enjoyable.

What kind of work were you doing during your internship? Did you get to jump in on actual client projects?

I got to work up close and personal with our clients and had the chance to do some real hands-on work. I helped develop a communications plan for We Rock Charlotte and what content they would create for each channel. I was also helping them develop a launch plan, complete with a media list, recommendations, sample pitches and emails for them to use.

I worked with other clients to develop content for their social media calendars and wrote a ton of press releases for both our clients and Wray Ward. It seemed as if there was always some meaningful project happening that I could work on.

How did you make the transition from intern to working full time as a PR/content coordinator at Wray Ward?

I think my interest in the work, my eagerness to learn and ask questions, and simply coming in each day and doing the job during my internship helped me realize that not only could I do this but also I actually enjoyed it.

The work I did during my internship was a launchpad into my current role. I don’t think it would have mattered where I applied — my experience at Wray Ward would’ve helped me land a solid role anywhere in the industry. I’m glad I ended up here though.

How did your time during FORM prepare you for your current role?

A full-time internship like FORM helps you see what the real world is like. I learned about managing my time more efficiently and how powerful collaboration with other teams across our agency truly is. Actually having the chance to work with clients was incredibly helpful in developing the soft skills necessary for a role like this. It helped me become a much better communicator and hone my presentation skills.

During my internship, my supervisor always told me to ask questions and be present. It sounds simple and cliche, but you truly don’t know something until you ask. I love that Wray Ward’s culture encourages a spirit of curiosity and learning.

Are you interested in paving your own path with an internship at Wray Ward? Applications for our 2023 FORM class open on November 28. Learn more and be sure to apply before January 20, 2023.

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