By: Arianna Ford
I have dabbled in a handful of internships, however I cannot say any were as hands-on and exciting as my time interning with Powerhouse Public Relations, LLC. Through re-connecting persistently, a little bit of sweetness (with home baked goods), and confidence, I was able to land an internship with one of Orange County’s premier PR agencies, and gained useful experience and skills along the way. Now CSUF PRSSA’s premiere patron of 2017, Powerhouse PR continues its commitment to serve as a mentor for young PR professionals.
During COMM week in 2015, I had the pleasure of meeting Melinda Morgan Kartsonis from Morgan Marketing & PR. I saw her passion for food-related clients, and being a foodie myself, decided to introduce myself to her after her presentation, got her business card, and emailed her shortly afterwards. She had discussed her love for baking, so I stopped by the office one afternoon to drop off a cake I had made for her and the team (which they loved). It took some months of reconnecting to finally land an interview with the group; they were in the middle of changing over ownership (to Powerhouse PR) and moving locations. I sat down with each of the six ladies of the agency before I got the offer, which I thought was very courteous to each of the team members. They interview went well; I provided a resume and writing samples of my work from courses like PR writing 1&2. I received notice shortly afterwards that I had received the position as a Powerhouse PR fall 2016 intern!
I was immediately thrown into the agency life of Powerhouse, who provided me my own desk, Dell computer, Powerhouse embossed notebooks and pens, and six new mentors willing to help at any moment’s notice. I was given access to different resources used by the agency, including Meltwater and the server for any documents I might need. I even received compensation at $10 per hour, something any college student would appreciate. I also completed two off-site photo shoots, in which I was compensated for the food I had bought for the photos (also learning how to do an expense report in the process).
One of the main things that impressed me about Powerhouse was their list of well-known clients, including Philly’s Best, Juice It Up!, Boudin SF, Hawaiian Host, Mauna Loa and Del Taco, and Hi-Powered Cycles. I had the opportunity to work with quite a few accounts, learning each brand has their own sense of voice and values, and how an agency manages to juggle so many different types.
I worked directly under Katelyn McLeod and Aileen Donovan, both Associate Account Executives (and CSUF alumni!). I also worked on numerous projects with Account Executives Chelsea McKinney (also CSUF alumni) and Samantha Tyson. I had the pleasure of interacting with Account Manager Brenna O’Leary and President Kristin Daher (and CSUF alumni), who is an inspiring PR professional who I will definitely keep in touch with, along with the other five.
I had a wide range of duties over the semester, including media relations, where I drafted work for Pieology, Del Taco, Wienerschnitzel, and Juice It Up! I took use of the teachings from PR Writing 1&2 of drafting media alerts, press releases, and pitches, and then Aileen in turn would expand upon my original draft. I learned a lot from working directly with someone on the drafts, getting a walkthrough of their thoughts or any changes they had. Hearing the edits right from the voices of the people who know the brand most was phenomenal. I also aided in social media, helping research and compile competitive research for new trends, and locations for shoots. I am very thankful for taking the basics I learned from Introduction to Digital Photography to help during Del Taco photo shoots. They have used quite a few of my personal photos so far!
Everyone at Powerhouse were exceptional practical instructors. They explained my tasks thoroughly and ensured me I could always come to them for questions. I was even asked to give them a list of tasks or projects I wanted to perform while there, most of which were met. I had never been asked before my own needs in an internship, and that’s when I knew I had chosen a great site to spend my semester. I even received a month-in progress report on my work, showing me my strengths and where I had room to improve.
I am very happy with the diverse set of work assignments I was given there over the semester. I had the ability to work on media relations, social media, media monitoring, and account service. I learned that PR isn’t all glamorous and fun. It’s about serious research into markets and time-effective pitching and posts. I left with a ready-made portfolio courtesy of Powerhouse, and have since landed a position as Account Coordinator with CSUF’s Titan PR as well as an internship with CSUF’s Center for Entrepreneurship.
The entire “Powerhouse Posse” were extremely approachable and willing to help in any way possible. What I found most appealing about Powerhouse was their genuine engagement and willingness to help me improve myself as a young PR professional. I had no issue going to any of the six ladies with whatever kind of issue I was having.
On my last day of my internship, I realized that I have a very great outlook on my professional life. Powerhouse gifted me with cupcakes and a “good luck” card, wishing me the best in my future endeavors. They all assured me that my future looked very bright, and that my passion and hard work would take me very far, giving me a great sense of accomplishment. I had worked persistently to attain this internship, and I got a very memorable experience out of it; more so than any of my previous internships combined! Shortly after my time with Powerhouse I found out that they had become CSUF PRSSA’s premier patron for 2017. Since CSUF PRSSA has already put their insight to work, having Chelsea and Katelyn come talk to the organization on a food panel, leaving many students (like me!) inspired to pursue food-related PR.