By Bailey Klingaman – Digital Editor
There is no doubt that finding an internship right now can be nerve racking. Between COVID-19 and searching for the internship that fits you and your schedule best, it is easy to focus on the list of things you still need to do. But let’s take a moment to appreciate what has already been accomplished and the people doing the jobs.
Junior communications major Madelyn Hedges was contacted by John Guilfoil at the end of last semester about her dedication to participation in his Political Communication class, despite uncomfortable topics. Knowing that Guilfoil owned his own PR company, she used this as an opportunity to land her first internship.
At John Guilfoil Public Relations (JGPR), Hedges mainly produces press releases for local police and fire departments. “I like PR and I feel like I’m actually helping someone….Their purpose is to put information out to help a company because that’s when people reach out to them… You actually feel like you’re kind of… helping get really important information out,” she says.
She was first introduced to public relations in COM213: Writing for Public Relations with Professor Sheila Lalwani last semester. Hedges knew her interests didn’t lay in traditional journalistic writing, but wasn’t sure what her preferred style was. While taking [the class], she realized a potential passion for PR, “I like step-by-step, and press releases are very step-by-step. There’s an exact science behind it.”
According to Leah Comins, JGPR Account Executive for Southern New England and primary consultant for internship admissions, Hedges is extremely resourceful. “Our style, it takes some time getting used to. It’s only the second week, but so far she has done a good job adhering to our style and using the knowledge that she has about writing press releases,” says Comins.
These traits made Hedges a good applicant for the internship, as JGPR was looking for students who were interested in their mission and had the writing experience to match their style. “When we do interviews, I always look for people who are personable. I remember [Hedges] striking me as being able to have a casual conversation at the same times as a professional conversation,” Comins says.
After the interview, Hedges received two writing tests to show that she knew how to compose a press release and conform to the company style. “The purpose of the writing test is to show that they are capable writers, because we actually have them writing press releases,” says Comins. “She was definitely interested in what we do and interested in our clientele.” Comins knew Hedges was interested in the internship when she reached out about her writing test results, wondering what she could do to improve.
Most of the feedback Hedges has received so far has been about AP style and grammar. She admits that these are challenges she has been working to overcome, and credits her progress to COM316: Publication Editing with Professor Stephanie Schorow, “…if I didn’t take my class last semester for AP style writing, I would have no idea. It was literally all about AP style writing and it was very tedious, but it actually helped me a lot. I didn’t think I’d use it, and then I was like, oh, no, I am. Like every day.”
Aside from spelling and grammar, the feedback has been constructive and mainly positive. According to Hedges, the staff recognizes that she is an intern and make themselves available to suggest edits and improvements. However, both Hedges and Comins acknowledge that the experience would be different if they were in the office.
Despite COVID-19 and not being able to work at their offices in Braintree and Georgetown, JGPR has maintained their internal communication via group messaging. For Hedges, she puts in the group chat that she is available and waits for someone on the staff to send her a project. But because “everything is through a group chat or through email, explaining what you’re struggling with or asking questions can be kind of hard. And if it was in person, it would be a lot easier to get across what you’re saying,” Hedges says.
Comins agrees, “We enjoy having interns in the office because they can immerse themselves in the environment and culture, and can communicate with the other employees.” She notes that Hedges has been very thorough with letting everyone know when she is available. If they were in the office Hedges would be encouraged to sit-in on conferences, video shoots and on-site experiences.
But no matter the circumstances, Hedges enjoys her internship and makes the most out of the experience. She hopes to one day work in public relations for a nonprofit organization, although she has no preference for the kind of nonprofit. Hedges regularly checks Indeed, an employment website, and actively searches for jobs in the field of Communications.
In addition to her resume and experience, Hedges defines herself as motivated, a consistent worker, and good communicator. This is clear after meeting with her. Despite not having a specific vision for her future, Hedges has something arguably better: flexibility. The quality of her writing, which is endorsed by Comins and Guilfoil, and her dedication to timeliness make her an excellent example of what companies look for in a Communications intern.
No matter what field Hedges decides is right for her, she will be the right one for the job.