No, I Don’t Have a Big Internship and That’s Okay

By: Neena Zona, Director of Business Affairs

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This semester, I am the social media and marketing intern at The Shandygaff, a small bar in State College. This internship does not come with a flashy brand name, like Food Network or Ketchum. It’s not the kind of brand that people would instantly recognize. However, this internship has provided me with countless learning opportunities and given me the ability to figure things out on my own. And yes, it has come with people in State College thinking that it was cool that I worked for one of their favorite nightlife establishments.

I started my internship in September and my bosses are great, but they do not have the slightest idea of what social media is or how to use it. As a result, I had no guidance and it was up to me to come up with a plan and to not “screw it up” as my boss would say. So far, this is what I have learned:

Branding

As every public relations student knows, branding is important. A company’s brand lets its customers know what its core values are as a business and what they should expect from it. The Shandygaff had no brand; they just posted pictures, tweets, and statuses about what they liked, whenever they felt like it. There was no rhyme or reason to any of the content posted.  I quickly had to figure out what this bar’s brand should be within the limited timeframe that I had been working there. This was such a great hands-on experience that gave me the opportunity to apply what I learned in the classroom to a real business.

People Skills

People skills are something that I feel you can never learn too much of or have too much experience in. From working in retail to working as a waitress, I thought that I have developed pretty impressive people skills. However, I quickly saw that I had more to learn than I originally thought. Working in a bar, you come across many different types of people and I needed to learn how to respond to everything that came my way. Some people do not like their picture taken when they are out and some people will do anything they can to get the “Snapchat girl’s” (a nickname I quickly received) attention. It taught me that some people will lash out at you for no reason and that having a thick skin was vital.

Flexibility  

The Shandygaff has a fast-paced environment. I may have an idea of the type of Snapchats I want to post or pictures that I want to take for the evening, but most of the time they do not happen as I plan them to. It is hard to know when the PSU fight song is going to come on or when a group of patrons are going to break out in a dance. Both things that we like to show on our Snapchat story. So, I have learned that I need to be flexible, stay on my toes, and always be on the lookout for something that will make people say “we need to go there” when they see it on social media.

Independence

Above all, this internship has taught me to be independent and to hold myself accountable. I post almost daily on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram remotely. I need to make sure that by 7p.m. I have everything ready to go, without my boss telling me to. Also, I do not have anyone checking over my work so I have to make sure that everything that I send out is error free and stays consistent with The Shandygaff’s brand.

When I tell people from my hometown that I work at The Shandygaff, they may not know what I am talking about, and that is okay. I know that the lessons I have learned in this small internship I would never have learned in a big name internship. I have learned how to fail and recover from it; and I have learned how to work harder than I ever thought I could.

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