2014 Greenough summer intern Brian McMahon shares thoughts on his experience
Walking into Greenough for the first time a couple of months ago, I was immediately taken by the intimate, modern feel of the office. Actually, that’s not quite true: my first time walking in was actually a semi-frantic attempt to find someone who could point me towards wherever it was I was supposed to park….but the second time I was truly taken!
Finding an internship can be a daunting task, and finding one where you don’t feel overwhelmed, underappreciated or insignificant can seem nearly impossible. A company like Greenough, however, offers a unique learning opportunity: a rigorous working experience filled with challenging tasks mixed with the comfortable confines of a tight-knit small business. This comfort helped me adapt to the newness of everything I was doing. While doing work for Greenough’s broad range of clients, I had the opportunity to learn about everything from mobile banking and cloud software to the Australian economy and World Cup security – but most importantly, I learned that it was OK to seek guidance when I needed it. Like many interns coming from rigorous, competitive academic environments, admitting unfamiliarity or lack of knowledge was taboo to me; learning to accept and benefit from the greater expertise of others has been a valuable lesson.
When it comes down to it, school cannot fully prepare us for the working world. College courses, no matter how inventive the professor or prestigious the school, remain static compared to an unpredictable office job. Only getting into the office and learning on the fly can truly ready us, the young working masses, for dynamic work situations.
During my time working in the PR world – which is still new to me – I have learned about the importance of the getting the little things right. Finding the right contact, publication or pitch for a client can take a while, but commitment to finding the perfect place for a story is almost always the right strategy. By nature, this industry pushes sexier news and developments to the forefront while veiling the work that goes on behind the scenes – the work without which buzz could not be created or brands expanded. As with shows on screen or stage, the audience tends to neglect the backstage work, failing to consider everything that goes into the articles they read and marketing campaigns they consume.
As a college student, it can be easy to dream about future pay and prestige without thinking about the work that goes into getting, keeping, and thriving in a certain occupation. Interning offers the chance to be the person learning the tools of the trade, instead of coasting in a structured academic environment. Nevertheless, we do not want to find ourselves utterly invisible, and in my time at Greenough I have found a sort of middle ground between having the spotlight on me and being unseen – following orders and fulfilling tasks while still being able to see the fruits of my labor, in media connections and client satisfaction.
I did not know what to expect coming into the summer, but I leave Greenough with a variety of new skills and interests. I have grown as a thinker, worker, and teammate. What else could I ask for?