By Marissa Peters
As I sit in my desk with only a few weeks left of my summer internship at Heron Agency, I can’t help but reminisce about my experience over the past three months. I never thought I would be able to learn as much as I did and have never felt more excited to graduate and enter the world as a PR professional.
My first day at Heron was full of emotions. I was excited, nervous and overwhelmed. As I eagerly walked to the office that morning, I could feel my heartbeat racing and palms sweating. I was uncertain how I was going to make my mark at one of the top PR agencies in Chicago. Little did I know, I would soon thrive and meet some inspiring people on this journey.
The internship program at Heron not only developed my writing, organizational and interpersonal skills, but has helped me grow as a person. The program pushed me to my limits, but in the best possible way. I better understand what I’m capable of and have developed the skills to excel, not just become a ‘PR wannabe.’ I’m grateful to have obtained real world experience, especially to have been chosen to learn from the knowledgeable women at Heron. My professors at Illinois State University have taught me a lot about the industry through the PR program, but I have found that learning and executing the same tactic for an actual client are very different. I have acquired experience in compiling media lists, writing press releases, creating content calendars and much more.
One of my favorite parts of the summer internship was having multiple opportunities to attend segments we secured, seeing the team’s hard work pay off was the most rewarding. I’m eager to show off my new skills, courtesy of the Heron team, in my senior capstone courses. I can honestly say that this internship will be one of the contributing factors to success in my future.
At one of our weekly meetings Noreen, the President of Heron Agency, said something that I will value and never forget: “As a publicist, you have to try and think of every possible traditional way to gain exposure for your clients, but then also the crazy, off the charts, creative ways to promote your client.” She gave the example of how she was walking to work one day and passed a young girl drawing a cupcake and writing the name of a local bakery on the sidewalk with chalk. That idea inspired her to mount a sidewalk chalk campaign for a local musical whose demographic was mothers, “Motherhood, The Musical.” A small agency team went out and wrote the name of the production with the website at local parks where moms might see it and become intrigued. This story really motivated me to think creatively and makes me so excited about my future. Wherever my PR career takes me, I will pay more attention to my surroundings in hopes to connect a creative idea to a client.
Every day before going to the office I would tell myself: “Give 100 percent on each project and the hard work will pay off.” Eventually it did, as I secured my first placement and I have never felt prouder of myself. Each employee at Heron was more than willing to advise and provide feedback on my work. I asked many questions but they always took the time to answer them thoroughly. They were there to help me grow and I appreciated that the most. I came into this internship program expecting to learn PR skills but gained additional experience in marketing, social media and advertising. I appreciated their openness to providing any additional experience I desired.
I could continue to write a novel about my phenomenal experience at Heron, but I believe the biggest takeaway from this article is the team atmosphere it possesses. As an intern I didn’t expect to feel like an asset to the agency, but in all honesty I felt as if I was a part of the team. From the weekly lunches to attending events, they treated us as if we were full-time employees, a difficult quality to find in a company as an intern. The team at Heron goes above and beyond for its clients and in my future career, I will exemplify this quality. I can’t help but feel sad as I have to say goodbye to the other interns and the rest of the team soon. This summer has been one to remember and I will be forever grateful for this summer internship experience and the connections I have made.