Job-Ready Intern

Caroline Shanley

Caroline Shanley

Public Relations and Strategic Communication and Political Science

The Children's Museum of Indianapolis 

Describe your typical day as an intern.
Each intern has a mentor, and so I meet with her at the beginning of the day, and she gives me a run-down. She’ll give me a list of assignments, which include collecting information from other departments, clipping newspapers to archive mentions of the Children’s Museum, and going on press tours once a week to talk about upcoming exhibits.

What is the most challenging aspect of your internship?
It’s weird finally working in a job and not just being in a classroom environment. In a job, you don’t get a syllabus. You determine what you do. Of course I have parameters, but what I’m realizing in this internship is that there are lots of way to do one task.

What is the most exciting thing about your role?
They don’t treat us like interns, and they want us to be active members of the Children’s Museum community, as employees. There are times when I do feel like an intern, like when I’m in a meeting, but for the most part, when I’m running around and doing departmental stuff, everyone treats me with a high level of professionalism, and gives me actual tasks to do.

What has surprised you most about your internship?
The level of responsibility they’ve placed on me. The fact that they are really treating me like another member of the PR department—not just like “the intern.”

Describe the most meaningful experience you’ve had as an intern.
Learning how to deal with crisis communication. There was recently an incident in which a member of the press found public records on a hearing on zoning for a property that the Children’s Museum had acquired. The journalist released skewed information on the costs of the project to major news sources in Indy, which angered many of the Children’s Museum’s donors. Learning how to take a situation that seems negative and turn it in our favor has been really exciting. I’ve already learned from that isolated experience that we need to ask, ‘What is the professional thing to do in this situation?’ We’re not just asking, ‘How are we going to handle ourselves?’ Instead, it’s more like, ‘Now that this has happened, we’re thinking of a strategic plan for the future, in case something similar happens.’ This is PR in action. 

How has your internship prepared you for your career?
It’s really given me real-life experience. I jumped in on the first day by going to meetings and learning to edit a press release. I didn’t really know what PR was about until I came into this job. It’s been really exciting, and I like being in a real PR environment. Also, donors and sponsors are a huge part of how the Children’s Museum operates. I realized that in PR, you have to learn how to take the donors’ voices and put them into the press releases you write. That’s been really valuable.

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