What They Couldn’t Teach Me in the Classroom

What They Couldn’t Teach Me in the Classroom

 In PR Strategy

When we unfolded the tablecloth and wrestled it onto the table, careful to not let the candy topple off, I remember feeling nervous. Recruiting other students to come work for my current co-op, which is at a leading healthcare agency, might seem like a fairly easy task, but my introverted nature has been one of my biggest challenges while working here. I understood that I was really the best person to accompany my manager to the career fair, but I knew it was not lost on either of us that this would test my communication skills. And communication skills are an asset, which in PR are as essential as breathing.

When the students started trickling in, I let my manager lead. However, she had other plans for me and passed the torch after a quick introduction, expecting me to share my experiences as a JPA Health (JPA) intern and deliver the elevator pitch.

Everyone has heard of an elevator pitch, and if you are reading this, I’m sure you’ve delivered one as well. My first time articulating that information wasn’t nearly as succinct or polished as I would have wished, but as the day progressed, I became more and more aware of the key messages that would resonate with fellow students and how best to convey them. I was able to craft a palatable and engaging JPA story; a crucial skill that any PR, communications, or marketing student must know. It is the essence of what we do that makes us more valuable as employees.

Here at JPA, I am constantly driven to cultivate my communications skills. Day-to-day, this means getting to know a pharmaceutical client and becoming familiar with the diseases it is targeting, its solutions, and what these solutions will mean for patients. What is most important in this story that deserves to be told? What are the company’s assets and how can we convey the potentially life-saving work it is doing? This also means fostering relationships with advocacy groups and reporters, maximizing brand equity and supporting engagement with key opinion leaders; bottom line, advising our clients on strategy that will deliver results.

In the four months that I have been at JPA, my team has regularly challenged me and helped me understand that process. My team has made sure that even as an intern I have a clear understanding of the inner workings of a PR firm and I am able to contribute as well. Even in my short time as an intern, I can see the positive impact that I have made as an employee and I am aware of the positive impact my leadership team has made on me as an employer.

I found this internship through Northeastern’s co-op program, which can provide up to three excellent, six-month internships through trusted companies in the Boston area and beyond. But finding an internship can be a daunting task. It can be difficult to understand what kind of atmosphere you will thrive in, especially if it is your first job experience. JPA Health has been an eye-opening opportunity to interact with the world of PR and gain a valuable education. That day at the career fair, I felt myself become a more confident, communicative individual, and I am thankful to JPA for helping me find both my voice and a new-found self confidence that will define me in my next co-op and throughout the entirety of my career.