Have you heard about Vail Resorts’ Epic Race?
The first 10 people to ski at every Vail resort (there are 29) will receive a lifetime Epic Pass. Personally, I’m cheering for Lake Tahoe newlyweds Dave and Jessica Schnoll, who are undertaking the challenge as an extended honeymoon. Before deciding to support Team Schnoll, I actually spent some time reviewing frequent flier miles and contemplating how I could participate, checking out flight info into the obscure little ski resorts in Minnesota and Wisconsin (who had heard of Afton Alps or Mt. Brighton before this?) plus resorts in Austria, Switzerland and France. I quickly realized I can’t really take off 29 days plus travel time to ski in November and December when our company is busy directing PR efforts for the launch of The Landing Resort & Spa, Lake Tahoe’s new five-star luxury property on Lake Tahoe.
So I have boldly created my own version – let’s call it the Sort-of-Epic Race. I plan to ski at every WordenGroup client location:
Jackson Hole Mountain Resort
Heavenly (Lake Tahoe)
The prize? Great skiing at my favorite resorts PLUS a celebratory cocktail after each ski day. Watch WordenGroup’s Facebook page for photo proof of my adventures – and let me know if you want to join me!
The phrase, “time flies when you’re having fun” could not apply better to the time that I have spent at WordenGroup Public Relations. At the beginning of the internship in early January with the Denver and Jackson Hole-based boutique public relations firm, I lacked any previous experience or knowledge of public relations. As time went on, I began working on media lists, client lists, news releases and media releases. With more experience, I became more comfortable with the projects I was assigned and was able to take on more responsibility. Since my time left in Denver is limited, here is a recap of some of my most embarrassing moments during my PR internship moments – plus the most important things I’ve learned while working at WordenGroup Public Relations:
While I could come up with several embarrassing moments to choose from, probably the most embarrassing occurred early in my internship, when I was in Jackson Hole, Wyo., helping with WordenGroup client the International Pedigree Stage Stop Sled dog race. One of my jobs on the race was to ask where people were from and whether they had attended the race before. Numerous times I would give someone my (rather long) spiel before I realized that I had already talked to them! (I chalk it up to a combination of nerves and the fact that people are harder to identify when bundled in layers of down and fleece). Other times I would ask people questions and they would give me a confused look until I apprehended that they were one of the many international guests who visit Jackson Hole and attend the race, and they had no idea what I was saying.
Antler arch in Jackson, WY
One of the funnier things that happened during my internship took place every Monday, Wednesday and Thursday, when Anne and I worked together at the Denver office. Anne and I liked to compare lunches and see who held out longest before digging into our lunch sacks (starting at around 10 a.m.). But we both had trouble remembering to bring utensils, resulting in some odd situations for eating soup, say, or leftover Chinese food. Finally, by the end of April we filled an entire desk drawer with various lunchtime necessities.
The most important thing I have learned about working in public relations – which I guarantee will be true no matter what PR firm you work with – is to RECORD YOUR HOURS! I have to admit, I was terrible at first about recording my hours of time spent on each individual project. I didn’t think it was that important. Boy, was I wrong. Not only does recording your hours determine how much someone gets paid, but it also lets the company know how much time they are devoting to each client.
One of the most important things I’ve learned from interning is, if you don’t put yourself out there and take a chance, you will never find what you are looking for. While looking for internships, I decided that it couldn’t hurt to apply out of state. I found WordenGroup PR after googling, “PR firms in Colorado.” Darla’s contact information came up and I decided that it wouldn’t hurt to send her an email to see if she was interested in taking on an intern. Surprisingly, I heard from Darla the next day and it wasn’t long after that that I arranged to work with WordenGroup Strategic Public Relations.
Although public relations might not be for everyone, I have come to fall in love with this profession and specifically WordenGroup. Hopefully, I will continue to work in PR throughout and after my college years and stay in touch with all of the amazing people that make WordenGroup the successful and dependable PR firm that it is today.
Intern Sydney Smoot
Finding the right PR internship can mean either endless days of miserable office hours or having office hours that fly by. Location, area of interest, and firm size all come into play when finding an internship in public relations.
Location shouldn’t play a key role in your decision of accepting an internship, but living somewhere that you could see yourself thriving in is a definite plus. If you are from a small town, venture into a big city. If you are from the East Coast, try going to the West Coast. If you take a chance, it could be extremely rewarding – or maybe you’ll realize that it’s not for you. Either way, you’ll uncover valuable information for future career decisions.
When I was looking for an internship for my fall semester, I was in Boston and applying for mostly East Coast positions. I realized it would be most rewarding to go out of my comfort zone and try to live somewhere that I have always wanted live, which turned out to be Colorado. The move from Boston, away from friends and my current apartment, to Denver was indeed nerve-wracking. Four and a half months later, Denver had become my new home with friends that I will stay in-touch with and my office experience was wonderful and valuable.
Some great advice in relation to short-term internships that can help you push beyond your comfort zone is, “If it’s six months or less, you can do anything.” If your internship is for only a couple months and you hate, it’ll be over soon anyway, if you love it, you’ll have enough time to embrace it and will know it’s something you want to explore more going forward.
View of downtown Denver and the Rocky Mountains – site of the office where I spent most of my PR time, though I also got to experience client work in Jackson Hole and Vail
Public relations covers everything from “fun” subject areas like luxury travel to film entertainment to the nitty gritty like politics and car parts (one of my bosses talks about a career low point when she was doing PR for automobile timing belts). Take time to identify and be honest about your interests, so you can narrow your search to companies that are most likely to be a good fit. If you are not sure what your area of interest is, look up an industry that you think you will like. Who knows, it could be your calling.
I personally was most interested in travel PR and while I was searching for potential internships online, numerous job opportunities came up that were not in my area of interest. I finally found specific companies that I was attracted to and decided to contact them asking if they would be interested in a fall semester intern. The worst thing that could happen, I figured, was that they’d say they were not interested, so I gave it a shot. I ended up hearing back from a couple of companies as well as not hearing back from many. I set up online and phone interviews with the companies that replied to my email. After the interview process I was offered a position at WordenGroup PR. Before I even heard back from the other companies I interviewed with, I’d agreed to spend four and a half months in Denver, Colo., as an intern for WordenGroup Strategic Public Relations, specializing in PR for travel, arts and architecture clients.
Different perks come with interning at large and small companies, but both have their advantages. Working at a smaller company provides more one-on-one instruction and possibly a higher level of responsibility with each person playing more roles. You will be working with a small group of people who can help you excel – often including top people in the company. I spent my days at the WordenGroup office with writer/editor and PR strategist Anne Parsons. Anne delivered excellent instruction as well as advice when I needed more direction on a project or task.
Larger companies usually have a more corporate structure and are more likely to have an existing internship program, so you’ll be more likely to work with other students and people close to your own age. Personally, I don’t think that you can go wrong with either choice.
The PR Intern Papers: What do you wear to an internship in a world of business casual, casual casual, sled dog race casual?April 25, 2013
No, not me – this is from “What to Wear to an Internship Interview” on About.com: http://jobsearch.about.com/od/interviewattire/ss/What-To-Wear-To-An-Internship-Interview-Internship-Attire_7.htm, but still a good business casual choice – and something I’d be comfortable wearing to the office.
A number of people have asked me what I’ve learned in the PR trenches about what to wear – or what NOT to wear – in an internship in a world of business casual, casual casual, and in rare cases, perhaps sled dog race casual. Every work event that I have ever attended has caused me anxiety, stressing over what to wear or what is considered appropriate attire. With the caveat that I’m lucky to be working for a boutique PR firm in the already dressed-down Rocky Mountain West, attending work events and going to the office in Jackson Hole, Vail, and Denver, here’s a list of my what-to-wear suggestions for an internship in a world of business casual (throughout the winter and spring months and strictly for ladies – guys, you’re on your own):
- Dressing for the office:
In the past two weeks Denver has seen everything from high 70s and sunshine to a record (for this late in April) 19 degrees with snow, wind and ice – sometimes both in a single day. The ups and downs prove the wisdom of layering. One of the worst things (that can possibly ruin your day) is to be uncomfortably hot or cold at work. Sometimes even on hot days air conditioning makes the office cold. By taking an extra sweater or coat with you, you can put it on or strip it off to keep you comfortable and more relaxed to focus on work. (Or slip it on to cover up a stain if you spill while eating lunch at your desk!)
- Dressing to meet clients:
Of course, you need to look your best for meeting with clients. You want to give the impression that you take yourself seriously (which you do) as well as the company you are working for. A nice pair of pants with a cozy sweater and a cashmere scarf is a good go-to choice for fall through spring.
- Dressing for a business formal work dinner:
As an undergraduate student with limited office experience, dressing for a business formal work event usually doesn’t come around too often – luckily. Since you will most likely be around clients and higher ups in your company, you should dress to impress. Make sure you don’t look disheveled by leaving your hair a mess (keep an extra comb in your purse) and if you don’t have it already, keep your eye out for that perfect “little black dress” in a classic cut whenever you’re shopping Nordstrom’s Rack.
- Dressing to work at a sled dog race:
Working a sled dog race is probably a rare eventuality unless you, too, end up interning for WordenGroup, but it does raise the need for all interns to always be prepared, flexible and game for anything. When it comes specifically to a sled dog race in Wyoming in the middle of winter, the most important thing is to STAY WARM! You will be outside for long periods at a time and if you are cold and miserable, it’ll be hard to stay entirely focused on your task at hand. Stash some hand warmers in your pocket and don’t forget your hat. Even better, find a hat, scarf, or vest that sports the sponsor’s logo; that way you will stay nice and cozy while looking professional and representing your clients.
Hardy types showing how it’s done at the Jackson, Wyo., start of the International Pedigree Stage Shop Sled Dog Race. And yes, that’s my boss, WordenGroup President Darla Worden far right in the white hat (photo: Chris Havener/IPSSSDR)
- The summer internship:
With summer fast approaching, the best advice I have ever heard regarding attire at the office is, “don’t wear anything that you would be embarrassed to wear in front of your grandma.” But if your grandma’s particularly racy and that might not be safe, refer back to your high school dress code and don’t wear anything shorter than your fingertips with arms extended fully downward or with straps that are less than three fingers in width. And remember a sweater or light jacket in case of chilly air conditioning or an unexpected meeting.
Finally, if that odd work event or situation comes up where you’re really not sure what’s appropriate (like the time we attended a Hawaiian luau in a tent in a snowstorm at the base of a Vail ski run with client and Antlers at Vail GM Rob LeVine. Hint: we brought leis with us from Denver), don’t be afraid to ask your boss or a coworker who always looks pulled together. They’ll be impressed by your desire to look professional. And in a pinch, remember that your energy, positive attitude and confidence are always more important than anything you’re wearing.
Previous work experience for many undergraduate students has included working retail (getting discounts on the clothing is always a plus), hosting at the restaurant down the street (maybe you can even work with your friends), or working at a golf course (tips will help with student loans). For these jobs, hours can be sporadic and you have the luxury to wear ‘almost’ whatever you want. Some students may like this more relaxed work routine for now, but for many students, working at an office is just around the corner.
For any undergraduate students that are considering or have already accepted an office internship, get ready for a huge schedule change.
Pros of working in an office as an undergrad student:
- Your schedule is always consistent. You work specific hours and you never take your work home with you (unlike college where you are constantly stressing and thinking about homework, projects, and exams)
- You create a family at work. You are with the same group of people every weekday and end up spending a majority of your waking hours with them
- You don’t have to deal with nonsensical frat guys (enough said)
- You create an understanding of what your future will be like if you follow the career path that you are currently on (or you decide that you want to do something different)
- You learn important life lessons and work etiquette that you will never learn in a classroom
Cons of working in an office as an undergrad student:
- You never have time for a nap (but you will never need to nap given the extra amount of sleep you will get when you are not cramming for exams)
- You can’t wake up five minutes before you have to be at work
- Your schedule becomes repetitive (there are a lot of things you can do to mix up your schedule)
- You can’t wear sweats to work (but dressing in business casual will make you look and feel more professional)
- Commuting to work can take longer than walking to class (at least you aren’t walking to and from classes in a blizzard)
After the first couple weeks of working at WordenGroup Public Relations’ Denver office, Darla asked me if I wanted to travel to Jackson Hole, Wyoming and help her out with a big annual Jackson Hole travel event, the International Pedigree Stage Stop Sled Dog Race (IPSSSDR), the largest sled dog race in the lower 48 states. Having never witnessed even a small sled dog race in my entire life, I was more than excited and eagerly accepted the offer.
Since Salt Lake City is only a few hours from Jackson, I have always driven there rather than flown, so I was taken aback by how striking the descent into Jackson was. The snow-covered Tetons soared in the distance and provided an excellent welcome to my three-week stay in Jackson.
Skiing at the Jackson Hole Ski Resort
My first weekend in Jackson was spent helping out in the WordenGroup Jackson Hole office by putting together prizes and gift bags for everyone involved with the sled dog race. The gift bags consisted of items donated from Pedigree and M&M’s.
IPSSSDR gift bags dontated from Pedigree and M&M’s
The race finally arrived and my duty was to survey the spectators waiting in line to receive prizes at the Pedigree gift tent. The purpose of the survey was to find out how many spectators represented each state and country around the world. Surprisingly, a majority of the bystanders were from Brazil and Australia, enjoying the Wyoming ski season.
Start line of the race
Once the race started, my job, along with WordenGroup’s Katie-Chloe Stock, was to count the crowd gathered around the racetrack. With the use of the iPhone Clicker Tally Counter application, we were able to count around 3,500 people.
Working with the IPSSSDR allowed me to realize how much time, effort, and work goes into planning an event especially one as large as 3,500 people (not to mention over 200 dogs to take care of).
After the IPSSSDR had left Jackson to start its stage stop course across Wyoming (plus a bit of Montana, Idaho and my home state of Utah), I had the opportunity to intern at the National Museum of Wildlife Art. Each morning I would catch the bus at the Aspens, dreading the walk to the bus stop because I always managed to run into a moose. (I am personally terrified of moose and prefer to keep my distance.) After surviving the walk to the bus stop and avoiding any potentially dangerous collisions, I would ride into town where I would meet Emma Zanetti, the museum’s Assistant Director of Marketing, who proved to be an amazing supervisor.
Moose sculpture at the National Museum of Wildlife Art
As an intern/volunteer, I shadowed Emma and helped out with various projects, including updating the NMWA’s Pinterest account and adding pictures. I also helped with creating a social media National Geographic give-away contest.
Being able to work at the NMWA sparked my interest for wildlife photography and art. The people I worked with were understanding, caring, and welcoming, which provided the perfect environment for any new intern.
My final week in Jackson was spent researching information for Ward + Blake Architects. My task was to find Western images taken in the early 1900s, and the Jackson Hole Historical Society had just what I was looking for. The photographs I was sent to find, consisted of the Teton Range, the Snake River, various log structures, barns, and many other classic Western photographs. I filtered 100 photographs from the thousands that I had been viewing into six categories. The images will be used for a new book that Ward + Blake is publishing. Something that I didn’t know about Jackson before sifting through old photographs was that the original Wort Hotel had previously burned down. The hotel was rebuilt with a few modern touches but one would never know that the original structure had been destroyed.