Ten Lessons We Learned Interning with FleishmanHillard’s Talent + Transformation Team
As September quickly approaches, so too does the end of the Summer 2021 internship program at FleishmanHillard in St. Louis. The close of any chapter tends to prompt reflection on lessons learned and goals accomplished — and this summer is no exception. Below, Meghan Lally and Molly Kostka, members of FleishmanHillard in St. Louis’ 2021 Summer internship program, touch on lessons learned during their time as interns on the agency’s Talent + Transformation team.
Meghan’s Lessons Learned
Branding Truly Comes From the Inside Out
As a current MBA candidate, one of the first lessons I learned in my brand strategy course was branding begins internally. If a company’s employees are not aligned on the same mission, purpose or business objectives, a cohesive brand cannot manifest externally. In this internship, I’ve seen the importance communication plays in driving employees’ understanding of and commitment to a brand. Contributing to programs focused on driving awareness and advocacy of brands has been both highly educational and rewarding.
Understanding How a Business Functions Is Crucial
In my previous job, I was a lifestyle journalist. One of my goals this summer was to understand how my two paths could merge into one career, while also bringing what I’ve learned in the MBA classroom to life. Working with the Talent + Transformation team did just that by providing a unique peek into various companies. I helped write intranet articles, supported communications for change management projects and served as a project manager for corporate transformations. I not only saw how businesses work at all stages of the game; I also gained a deep understanding of how communication impacts and facilitates each phase.
Brand Voice Matters
As a journalist, I wrote for several publications, which taught me how to vary voice and style by audience. I further refined this ability working on the Talent + Transformation team. I became an agile writer by learning to transition from brand to brand in a matter of hours and use unique perspectives and voices.
Listening Is an Invaluable Skill
A common responsibility for interns is note taking during meetings. As a journalist who interviewed subjects, you would think I had this down, but soon into this internship I realized I must have been dependent on my trusty recorder. By taking this crutch away and relying only on my ears, I polished a skill crucial in any stage of your career, and subsequently began more effectively digesting volumes of new information.
Lack of Self-Trust Can Derail Progress
I’ve always been a perfectionist, but, at times, to an unproductive level where I hinder my own progress. In an agency setting, a finite amount of time is given to complete each project, as practitioners must be responsible stewards of their client’s resources, delivering quality work on time and on budget. In previous roles, I would spend hours reflecting on each piece I wrote. In an agency setting, I was pushed to think quickly, write smartly and trust when it was time to send my work to a colleague, it was just as good — if not better —than if I’d spent hours contemplating seemingly inconsequential changes.
Molly’s Lessons Learned
Internal Communications Shapes a Business
During my internship, I learned internal communications plays a critical role in shaping business performance. First and foremost, it aligns employees to – and engages them in – advancing an organization’s business priorities. It can provide a vehicle for aggregating and reporting out employee feedback, sharing recognition, delivering essential business updates, fostering a strong culture and much more. I learned that to align employees, drive business forward and improve overall workplace experience, an employer must prioritize internal communications.
Research Fuels Decisions
Working for a global public relations firm, you need to understand what’s happening in the world. As a result, I learned the great value of research and the important role it plays in informing decisions. During my internship, I had the opportunity to flex my research skills by conducting audits and analyses on businesses, industries, communications best practices, employee engagement tactics and more. In some form, every project I worked on included research.
Asking Questions Is OK. In fact, It’s Encouraged!
To me, perfect is always the goal. I feel a rush after submitting an assignment knowing that, in my eyes, it was perfect. However, that assignment may not be perfect — and I’ve learned that’s OK. Before my internship, I wanted to understand everything right away. I quickly understood that wasn’t going to happen. It has taken some time, but I’ve learned to better educate myself, so I don’t make the same mistakes twice. How did I do this? By asking questions. Questions that clarified assignment directions, allowed me to collect new ideas and ways of thinking, helped me learn more about the industry, the agency and more. I’ve realized there’s beauty in both the path to perfection and the final product.
Being Open Minded Is Key in an Agency
In every way, being open minded has been crucial in this internship. In an agency, each day looks different. Being open minded and willing to problem solve has provided me opportunities to build new relationships and refine new skills. Plus, tackling new assignments has taught me the importance of project management and organization — and establishing processes that keep me on track. Something as simple as writing a daily to-do list has allowed me to maintain my workload and stay connected with colleagues — all while continuing to pursue unexplored projects and interests.
Being a Team Player Benefits Everyone
Growing up playing sports, I experienced the joy of teamwork. During my internship, I learned working in a professional setting is similar. Completing a task that benefits the group has been extremely rewarding. Knowing my work helps a colleague and client is exhilarating. I’ve truly enjoyed collaborating with my colleagues — and I’ve experienced firsthand that developing relationships and a collaborative culture is key to success in the workplace.
One final suggestion for anyone thinking about applying for an internship at FleishmanHillard – do it. And if you need more reasons why, check out the agency’s upcoming internship programs in St. Louis and around the world here.