This success story is part of a series profiling people who leveraged their college internship experience into a full-time job. This interview features Leigh Peterson, a communications professional.
Leigh, what college did you attend?
The University of Akron, Akron, Ohio
What year did you graduate from college?
Where did you complete an internship?
The Carousel Dinner Theatre in Akron, Ohio. It was the largest professional dinner theatre in America until it closed in January of 2009, thanks to the recession.
How did you find/land your internship?
I was studying Communications with a PR track, and I took a second class from this one PR professor. I really enjoyed his classes and he could tell. He also knew that I loved the world of entertainment. A former student of his had become the head PR person at the Carousel, and her boss had recently left the company. So, he thought maybe there would be room for an intern. He told me to call her and I did. I had one interview, she spoke to the owner, and I was in!
What type of work did you do during your internship?
I wrote press releases announcing new shows, wrote creative and show-themed menu descriptions, and put together each show program.
What was one significant thing you learned about working during your internship?
There are two sides to PR: the creative side and the networking side. I learned that I’m much better at the creative side, particularly writing, than at networking. My boss and I were a good team since she was great with people. I learned that I would likely always be more comfortable in a supportive role as opposed to a management position. I also learned that your writing style must be flexible enough to please different bosses with different tastes.
How did your internship lead to a job offer?
The internship was initially supposed to be for a few months. I started in August and was graduating in December. My boss didn’t want to stop having assistance, so she rallied to have me hired on and it worked! She was barely one year older than me and she had a younger sister, and that was sort of the relationship we developed. She always had my back.
I worked at the dinner theatre for three years until there was a change in ownership. The vibe changed then, and I opted to move on. I have had many different jobs since, but I always go back to creative PR type work. A few years ago I transitioned to internet PR, and I work at a music agency. I’m also a singer in one of the agency’s bands. I’ve accepted the fact that I’m a Renaissance personality; I need lots of variety in what I do.
Any words of wisdom you would like to share with current college students?
For me, it’s always been more important to be in a field for which I have passion than to just do a job for money. There are plenty of opportunities for you to work in a field you actually enjoy. Don’t settle! When I began working at the music agency five years ago, I started as an office assistant because I had decided that I really wanted to work in music. Over the years I started showing my boss what I could do little by little, and then in early 2008, I prepared a presentation with an e-marketing plan laid out for him to see. He agreed to let me go ahead with the plan. I basically created my own position at the company, and even got to choose my title.
Most recently, I’ve been working from home, doing a lot of the creative work I enjoyed so much at the Carousel. In addition to e-marketing for the music agency, I do virtual assistant and online work, including article and copy writing, websites, and social media. You can visit my website at LP Communications.
Thank you, Leigh, for sharing your experience and advice.