“The media will not stop for a pandemic and neither should you.” – Katie Iver, Ruby Media Group
The impact of COVID-19 has been immense. Lives have been lost, the economy has spiraled and job opportunities have declined, dried up or become nonexistent. Many ambitious college students have lost their summer internships. These internships are crucial for students because it provides a learning experience that cannot be found in school. Summer internships offer students a glance into the real world. What will life be like after college? It’s crucial that students dip their toes into the work world before graduation. Many companies retracted this opportunity due to the dangers that COVID-19 brings forth; however, Kris Ruby did not allow a pandemic to stop her company from giving students a chance to learn.
In March, the pandemic brought me home from Binghamton University. My classes were online for the rest of the semester, providing me with way too much free time. I spent the first week watching movies and enjoying this extra time, however, I soon realized this was not enough. How could I make the most of this time? I wanted to be as efficient as possible and Kris Ruby, CEO of Ruby Media Group, allowed me to do just that. Every week I received a new e-mail from one of the internships that I applied for that the program had been canceled. These cancellations did not stop me. I was determined to find an internship. It wasn’t until I was scrolling on social media and saw Intern Queens Instagram story that I decided to give finding an internship one last shot. I applied via e-mail after seeing the public relations internship opportunity. Later that month, Ruby Media Group offered me a virtual internship.
I initially wondered how a virtual internship would function. Would we video chat during the day? How could I work for a company without ever meeting my boss? I soon learned how productive, beneficial and straightforward a virtual internship could be. Interning virtually has some significant benefits. For example, all work has a purpose and you will never be assigned busywork (one of the key benefits to virtual vs. in person). Also, you do not have to commute, which is another major bonus.
Every day at noon, I opened my laptop to the real world. It’s the equivalent of driving to work; only shorter and does not require gas. The first step to making a virtual internship work properly is to have a professional mentality. Understand that working from home holds the same expectations and requirements as working in an office. A virtual internship requires this mindset in order to reach career success.
I began my workday by e-mailing the company founder Kris Ruby my daily agenda, which is a list of tasks that I intend to complete during the day. I end the day with my end of day report, a detailed list of what I accomplished throughout the day. This transparency and organization allowed for a clear understanding of daily projects.
Despite not meeting in person because of Covid-19, Kris and I were able to build a professional relationship via Zoom and other video chat services. Communication is a key feature in making a virtual internship effective. Asking questions, clarifying tasks, and suggesting ideas is not always easy, however, it must be done to work productively.
A virtual PR internship did not stop my fellow interns and I from collaborating with one another. We shared our research, helped each other on projects and offered creative solutions to pressing PR challenges. During the day, we communicate through Slack, e-mail and video chat platforms. Working together has not posed a challenge because we are eager to collaborate. Being able to communicate with one another and collaborate on ideas makes the outcome of projects even better. We offer each other ideas that perhaps we could not have thought of alone.
We are also part of Ruby Media Group University, a members’ only PR group created by Ruby Media Group during the pandemic to ensure that interns (and those who were not fortunate to land an internship) learn something new each day in the field of public relations. Within the PR University Facebook group, we learn from guest speakers, educational webinars and are encouraged to ask daily questions about working in the PR field. The opportunity to learn from industry leaders allows us to expand our network and stay ahead in our field.
Not only have I discovered the nuances of working a virtual internship, but I have also learned about the many facets of public relations. Social media marketing, content creation, podcast production, blog writing, and graphic design all play a role in an integrated public relations campaign. These items may seem simple at first, yet they are carefully considered and thought out plans.
I have learned to train my brain into understanding how to market a brand. Initially, I could not comprehend how to market brands in a public relations style. Advertising and marketing are vastly different. It is important to learn the nuances of public relations and how companies should be marketed and represented in digital platforms. Every tweet and Instagram post is intricately designed and debated upon.
Does this Facebook post represent the message we are trying to communicate?
How will people respond to the messaging in this podcast episode?
No action goes without contemplation.
Public relations is a complex and ever-changing field. Many people may be surprised that PR is not the glamorous lifestyle portrayed in the media. Time is extremely valuable, especially in PR. I have learned the importance of staying on top of the media, breaking news and current events. A pandemic will not stop life from creeping up on you. Take matters into your own hands. This is what Ruby Media Group did by launching a virtual internship program and PR University during the pandemic. As a result, I have learned pivotal career lessons. Innovation is a constant process and must never end.
Virtual Internship Bonus Tip: Take advantage of training programs presented to you during a virtual internship. In Ruby Media Group’s PR University Facebook group, RMG recommends specific webinars and career advancement programs to us that we can learn from. This is a major benefit of the virtual internship program. I was fortunate to also have the opportunity to participate in some major industry conferences, including Social Media Week and #SMWone. I was encouraged to participate in these digital conferences and without RMG PR University or this internship, I would not have known about these opportunities.
About the Author:
Katie Iver is a Public Relations intern at Ruby Media Group in Westchester County, pursuing a degree in English with a concentration in creative writing at Binghamton University. She is minoring in Mandarin and is interested in television writing, production and journalism.
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