Internship within GH Community Creates Sense of Unity During Pandemic Isolation
When I applied to do an internship with the University of Guelph-Humber’s Communications and Public Relations department, I was looking for a work-study position that would allow me to get a little more field experience in graphic design under the mentorship of an experienced designer.
Initially, I was drawn to the idea of giving back to my university and working in a small, tight-knit department. I certainly received a lot more than I bargained for, because every day in this role has presented new opportunities and challenges that have advanced my creativity and problem-solving skills in ways I never imagined – all from the comfort of my own home.
My responsibilities in this position include planning content and creating graphics for our Twitter and LinkedIn channels every week, writing web content and sourcing images for any news articles, helping to plan community events and providing general administrative assistance whenever possible.
On a regular day, I start by looking through our social media mentions over the last twenty-four hours, checking on any unique mentions of the university and consulting our editorial calendar to see if there are any relevant awareness days coming up, such as Encourage a Young Writer Day (which is coming up on April 10).
Typically, I’ll post the content we have written for the day on our Twitter and LinkedIn channels in the morning, but there are many days where content we created just a few days ago is no longer the most relevant news, because there is a crisis or pressing event that directly concerns the University community.
My supervisor and I typically send each other a flurry of emails until we feel that we have written a strong, succinct post for social media that informs our audience but does not overwhelm them. While these days always present a bit of stress, I love challenging my written communication in such a spontaneous way.
Every few days I attend meetings with Guelph-Humber’s partner institutions to discuss upcoming events, and then spend another couple of hours working on either Adobe Illustrator or Canva to create graphics suitable for posting to the web or on the campus televisions. Later, I’ll likely use our media monitoring software to source any mentions of the University of Guelph-Humber in the news and include these mentions in a quarterly report. I always find it fascinating to keep up with the university’s social media mentions, and to see both faculty and alumni from our small community mentioned in news outlets across the world. Learning through this software how much a single news mention can be worth when it makes its way into an organization’s revenue streamintrigues me; it gives me a greater sense of appreciation for the value of engaging journalism.
I really took pride in what I accomplished on this year’s Bell Let’s Talk Day. The university’s Communications and Public Relations departm
ent usually hosts this event in-person, but the COVID-19 pandemic meant that was not possible this year. Having to problem-solve this issue by finding ways to engage our school community exclusively through social media was extremely satisfying, and the collaborations we made across various faculties and departments allowed me to brainstorm with a number of intelligent and talented individuals within the university whom I would never have met through my academic experience alone.
The Instagram and Twitter accounts we created to host content for Bell Let’s Talk Day ended up gaining a few hundred followers in only about three weeks. Students, staff and faculty wholeheartedly engaged with our content and expressed their support for mental health initiatives. It was really wonderful to experience that kind of unity firsthand, especially during a time of isolation for so many of us.
For anyone considering where they should pursue an internship, I strongly suggest looking within our university community. This experience began at a time of uncertainty and confusion as I adjusted to learning and working in an online environment, and the team in Communications and Public Relations went out of their way to ensure I had all the support I needed. I attribute a large portion of my success in this role to the kindness and encouragement of my department.
I’ve ended this internship with experience in media monitoring, graphic design, writing, editing, event-planning and a renewed confidence in my own abilities as I enter the workforce. Using the tools I have learned during my academic experience at the University of Guelph-Humber to contribute to its success as an institution has rewarded me both personally and professionally far beyond my greatest expectations. If you use the same passion you have for your own academic experience to motivate your contributions to an internship, I genuinely think you will be able to find success anywhere.