Social Media Internship: A Learning Experience For All
by Rachel Strella
05 Aug 2018
For the past few months, we’ve had the opportunity to welcome a summer intern named Lindsay Newton. Her 120-hour internship was the final requirement in order to obtain her Bachelors’ Degree in Communications from Penn State Harrisburg. We thought it would be fun to talk about the internship experience – from both her perspective and our own!
Prior to starting my summer internship, the only experience I had with social media marketing was one class I took during my senior year at Penn State Harrisburg called, Social Media Strategies. It was the first time that class was taught at the campus, so it was a learning experience for us, as students as well as the professor.
I was expecting my internship to focus more on the strategy for different businesses. I was surprised to find that was not really the case. In fact, the strategy class I took was helpful, but I really didn’t know much about what social media marketing entailed or how to know what to post for business pages. I was also surprised that I was working remotely. I didn’t have to go to an office and I could work from home, which was helpful scheduling around my part-time jobs. It did take some getting used to, though!
In my first few days working with Strella, I was already using new online tools that I had never used before, let alone even heard of. One was Trello, which is a way to organize tasks and collaborate with team members. Rachel or Stephanie posted my jobs to a Trello board. As tasks were completed, I would either upload a document to the card or archive the card, on my board, when I was finished. It is very useful, especially for companies that operate online. It also provides easy communication with your teammates with board sharing and tagging in the cards’ comments.
Another online tool that I worked with was Lumen5 Video Creator. This is a simple, yet efficient tool for creating short videos from blog posts. It was a fun, creative way to generate more content. You can check out one of the videos I created by clicking here.
Rachel gave me an amazing opportunity to be able to travel to clients’ businesses to take pictures or gather video content for their social media pages. It’s a neat change of pace for the week. I enjoyed being able to meet the clients in person and learn more about what they do with Strella. I have found that a lot of clients are shy about having their picture taken and it takes some coaxing to get them to take more than one shot.
The biggest challenge I faced during my internship was getting the hang of pulling reports for some of the client pages. I first learned how to do this with Stephanie through Zoom (an online video conferencing tool) and asked her to record the process, because it entails many steps. I had to watch the video a couple of times and take notes on it before I fully understood how to do all the steps. The process requires pulling stats from Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter from all the pages, so we can measure what’s working or not working week to week. I enjoy doing this task now that I know how to do it correctly.
I have many takeaways from the time I have spent interning with Strella Social Media – from the new skills I have learned to the greater sense of professionalism I have developed. My internship gave me the opportunity to develop real-life work experience and exposed me to a professional work setting, even though it was remote. It gave me the knowledge to keep up with the quick change of pace in this industry while allowing me the opportunity to be creative on different projects. I am very excited to stay on with Strella after my internship ends and to keep learning new things.
Thank you team Strella for all you have done for me!
In the Spring, Lindsay reached out to us about a possible internship. To be honest, I was reluctant to hire an intern. While I’ve had positive experiences, in the past, the last intern I employed was in 2012 – so it’s been some time. The sheer speed of change in this industry makes it a challenge to find someone qualified to work, at this pace, without a lot of training.
Our time with Lindsay was a learning experience for all of us.
Lindsay was diligent in completing her work, although we did struggle to find her footing the first few weeks. With little hands-on work in this field or regular personal use of social media, it’s quite a learning curve.
I believe it was an added challenge for Lindsay to work remotely. A career in social media – especially as a social media manager – is on the computer, so we wanted her to have the discipline and initiative to work in this setting. I think that was a change for her, but she rose to the challenge – and by the end of the internship, she was excelling with the balance of at-home work and in-person work.
Once we found Lindsay’s creative flow, she enjoyed taking on new responsibilities, devising creative campaigns and sharing fresh ideas for doing things. She excelled as she got more comfortable with the clients, especially taking photos and videos. Lindsay is very likable, friendly, and cooperative. Our team, our clients and my colleagues had a positive experience working collectively with Lindsay. She loves working with people, which is fantastic. She also seemed to enjoy learning new things.
I did share my feedback with the university about the lack of preparation for a career in this field. A stronger emphasis on social media marketing is vital for anyone who would like to work in the areas of communications, marketing, public relations, business development or community relations. Students need hands-on working knowledge of social media strategies for all types and sizes of businesses, an understanding of the integration into an overarching marketing plan, and familiarity with analytics and results.
Fortunately, Lindsay’s enthusiasm outshined the drawbacks in preparation. She’s a sponge for knowledge. If we had any other intern, I do not believe we could give as much positive feedback about the experience as we did with Lindsay. I’m pleased to say she found her stride and we are keeping her on our team part-time. My hope is that we can grow her in ways that college couldn’t, so she’s prepared for a job in online marketing.
Good luck Lindsay and to everyone graduating this year!