The End of an Era

And by era, I mean… internship? A ten week internship at the Castle Group. Not that long, but looking back, it seems like a huge expanse of time. And now it’s over! Woah.

I have learned so many things in the past ten weeks; if I wrote them all out, item by item, one by one, it would be a longer document than all my status reports, all my instruction sheets to the next intern, all my email correspondence put together. There is nothing greater than experience– no better way to learn than jumping into the middle of something where you don’t know what you’re doing. And, to anyone who has read a blog of mine before, I am a nervous person and so for me to say this now, sans any fear, is incredible. Looking back on my first day (my first week, even!) when I was miserable and lonely and feeling like an idiot, I see someone with a lot of learning coming her way. And yes, at times it was really difficult and I really did feel totally useless, but now, at the end, I’m beginning to feel..well, almost like an integral part to my office machine.

I made phone calls to people who didn’t want to talk to me with less fear than I’d ever imagined I could; I sent out daily emails to my entire office with a client coverage that I put together; I wrote, edited, sent and followed up on pitches; made lists of media outlets relevant to a given release or pitch; did research on publications, awards and clients. And a lot of other things. Whew!

But another side of what I’ve learned is how to interact professionally with a group of people while still building meaningful personal relationships. Bam! I love meaningful personal relationships. I’m all about social contact and learning about the people I spend my days with is really important to me.

So here I am. The last day of waking up at 6:30 and leaving the house before 7:30. Arriving back (on foot, no less) around 6:30 pm, another day over and done with. No, I didn’t get any pay checks (and my train tickets came in just under $300) but I have certainly gained a lot, that, as cheesy as it sounds, I deem “priceless.” (Wow, i’m the star of my own mastercard commercial).

I don’t have any revolutionary final thoughts and reflections, I’m just really happy with my decision to not return to camp in favor of getting some experience in the real world. I can only imagine how scared I would be if, upon graduation, I literally had nothing on my resume that resembled office work. And, after proving to myself that I can have a good summer while not at camp (though I certainly missed it) I feel like I went cold-turkey enough to not necessarily need it next summer. Weird.

Now, time to look forward: next week I’m going to New Orleans to visit my friend Schuyler! After that I have a few short weeks and then head up to school for senior year. I’m incredibly excited to use my newly gained PR skills to pump up my job as publicity director of WRBC!


Calling Israel

That’s what I did this morning. Seriously. And I now think it works as a good analogy for the progress I’ve made working at the Castle Group so far this summer. Let me explain..

Back at the beginning, when I was still scared and sad and had no clue what I was doing, I was asked to call Israel. It was my second day. I will be the first to admit that I am a phone-aphobe. Well, only in situations where I don’t know the person I’m calling or don’t know everything about the situation. I KNOW, I KNOW, grown ups (especially grown ups in the PR industry) cannot be phone-aphobes. Chill out, I’m working on it. I was terrified. The mission was to contact an Israeli business newspaper that is translated and posted online for the English speaking community. We needed an email address for an editor to send an idea to– so could have talked to anyone, as long as they could list the email address of their boss.

I googled “how to call israel from US.” I cross-checked how to make outgoing calls from my office phone. I wrote out a faux script of what I would say. And then..I dialed their switchboard. And… nothing. There was a busy signal. As the reality of the situation set in and the tone pulsated in my ear, I realized, hey, maybe I did all I could do! Maybe I got out of this!

My boss then told me to call every phone number on their contact page. Each last digit I punched in to the phone was accompanied by mumbles of “please don’t work please don’t work” and those mumbles must have worked. None of the calls went through. Whew.

About a week later, I was asked to give it another try. This time, instead of using the specific client billing code for the long distance call, I should just use the general one, because the codes had been acting up lately. Oh no. I proceeded with caution. And when I dialed? REALLY FAST WORDS SPOKEN IN HEBREW THAT I COULDN’T UNDERSTAND!!!!  So the call had gone through! But unfortunately, hebrew is not listed on my CV and therefore I was unable to move forward with the matter.

I’d all but forgotten about Israel when this morning, after finishing my daily scan of news relating to our clients that I send out to the company, my boss sent me an email with a subject line “Israel…” Here I am, six and a half weeks later, and all I needed was the number and a quick reminder of the dialing procedures before I jumped on the phone. Though the call was not answered in English, I began right away with my intro speech and she caught on and began transferring me around. And in the end, I got an email address. As I hung up the call, my boss was walking by and asked, in disbelief “wait, did you get through? Was that actually Israel?”

I was so proud to say “yep” as I hung the phone up with a satisfying crack. So, like I said, this little anecdote has the potential to represent the progress I’ve made so far. Something that was an unsurpassable barrier, a giant behemoth in the way of my success and made my heart beat fast out of anxiety– taken care of before 9:30 am with ease.  I’m making progress!

I mean, come on! When was the last time you called Israel?

And when was the last time your walk to work looked like this?

Transmissions from the Real World

Sorry for the hiatus in posting, but life post-Paris has been hectic yet slow, engaging yet dragging, but mostly just… not Paris. I can only imagine that anything I post from now on will pale in comparison to the posts from this past semester –rich in photos from exotic locations from around the world and vignettes of my experiences traveling internationally. I categorize my time in Paris as very idyllic and in that, very not real life. So… the transition into my current situation has been slightly jarring. Enter: the real life summer internship.

I am at this point, half-way (GOD, it’s only WEDNESDAY!?) through my third week of my summer internship. I’m a Public Relations Intern at The Castle Group and lets be up front– I know nothing about public relations. Well– I knew nothing. I’m learning– slowly. I figured the publicity work I’d done on campus for student orgs like WRBC or the Rob Players would have appropriately prepared me to work in a real firm. Guess what? I was wrong. I am learning new strategies, techniques, protocalls and research skills every day. But I have to say — it’s hard to ask for help.

So let’s just rewind back to June 6, my first day of work. Could barely move I was so nervous. Accidentally got to my office (which is on the Navy Pier in Charlestown, MA) 45 minutes early. Anxiety was brewing like morning coffee in my stomach and I could feel my chest tighten with each step I took towars the elevator. Yeah, that bad. The first day of any internship or job, I can imagine, has got to suck. I mean, you don’t know what you’re doing, you aren’t familiar with the routine, the staff, the facilities or the tools you’re supposed to use. I was tucked into a corner at a desk and essentially just “familiarized” myself with the clients and a database all day. And didn’t talk to anyone. And when I say all day– I mean it. No one told me “hey we’re having lunch” and I was too freaked out to notice until 4 pm, when I realized, “shoot, I’m really hungry.”

I came home that day pretty bummed. I hadn’t anticipated it to be so hard. I like to put myself into situations that I’m prepared for– to minimize stress and embarrasment. But sometimes… that’s impossible. That night I thought about the decision I’d made about this summer– choosing an unpaid internship (that’s good for my resume) instead of returning to beloved theater day camp where I am worshipped by 9 year olds and dance to top 40 hits all summer. But, I got up the next morning and went to work. That morning happened to be my birthday. I was also still so nervous I failed to tell any of my coworkers about the occasion, and every few minutes when my phone would buzz announcing another wallpost from facebook, I’d shove it in deeper in my bag to try and stifle the noise from the vibration. But, you know what? It got better. They told me when they were all eating lunch! And that was all I needed. From then on, I was less afraid and I tried harder.

I met people. I started remembering names and getting a feel for the office– the dynamics, the schedules, the work. I met the other interns and found  that they were all really nice and helpful. (Though with them, I usually find myself running to catch up. As an English major from Bates, at school I learned “how to learn.” So I know how to write, and now am slowly picking up the specific application of my skills to this career. The other interns, however, are all communications or marketing or PR majors. I think they have a head start…)

I find myself with a purpose now– each morning it’s my job to come in and compile and send out a document of all the news coverage of any of our accounts or their competitors from the past day. I feel entrenched in this grown-up 9-5 (which is really 7:30-6:30 if you include the commute) lifestyle, and you all know how I feel about growing up. (And if you don’t, it’s that I’m scared– I’m really really scared of growing up.)

I will admit that this working girl routine has got me super tired out– my bed time usually falls somewhere around 10:30, unless there exists some extenuating circumstances. It was just such a staggering switch– to go from living this life in Paris that was all about my own life and experiences on my own schedule, to a regimented, business casual full-time job (while living with my parents, no less). But I think that happens anyways– reverse culture shock, right? I was watching an episode of “Covert Affairs” ondemand (please don’t judge my social life or television viewing decisions, I stand by them) that was set in Paris, and each new scene made my heart break a little more. That street corner! It was right by my school. The Louvre! I had class there every Wednesday night! That bakery! They make the best baguette in Montmartre! etc etc. Clearly I left a little bit of me in Paris, but I’m trying to fill myself in with this new, adult, successful and passionate person who sits at her desk each day and is slowly trying to learn everything she can about this big new world.