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The Importance of Internships and Gaining Relevant Experience

As a University of Iowa senior quickly approaching graduation and in search of a job, I’ve come to understand how important securing internships, as well as pursuing internship opportunities throughout my four years of college, has been.

Today, most organizations require applicants to have held a minimum of one or two prior internships to be considered, internships that are relevant to the company’s mission or ones in which you gained and exercised skills that are of interest to the company.

Although most college students don’t enjoy working during the school year or summer months, as they’d rather be travelling or hanging out with friends, it is a great time to gain hands-on, valuable work experience. Internship experience will not only help you stand out against a pool of 50 other applicants, but also help you develop into a more capable and confident professional.

My internship with Amperage has proven to be more beneficial to me as a young public relations and marketing professional than I ever expected coming in. A well-structured and comprehensive program, you can expect to learn and acquire many practical skills at Amperage, while working under the guidance and mentorship of sophisticated public relations, branding, marketing, fundraising and business professionals.

As a public relations intern, I’ve had the opportunity to help conduct media relations and pitch local media; create and edit social media calendars for clients; write and distribute press releases; attend video production shoots for various marketing campaigns; contribute to creative brainstorming sessions; review branding platforms and marketing plans; learn how to build media lists using programs like Cision and Vocus; and everything in between.

All of these tasks have helped better qualify me for entry-level PR and media positions because they’re responsibilities you can only gain in a real work environment, not in the classroom. You can learn how to write pitch letters and press releases in school, but in this fast-paced industry, you aren’t receiving letter grades for your work. You’re trying to secure media placements and coverage for clients that will ultimately boost their profit margins and improve their reputations.

So here is my ultimate suggestion to freshmen, sophomores, juniors and seniors in college: Get out beyond the classroom and apply yourselves. Optimize your resume and apply for internships or leadership positions that are relevant to your area of study and expertise. Expand your knowledge by collaborating with and supporting professionals in a challenging work environment. Not only will you be more highly prepared for the work force, but you’ll also grow your connections and receive networking opportunities like no other.

Written by:

Mark wrote his first direct-mail fundraising letter in 1981 for the University of Iowa Center for Advancement. The effort raised a few million dollars in undiscovered wills and legacy gifts. From that day forward Mark discovered a love of the big idea that moves the needle. After 12 years at KWWL, Mark became a business owner as a co-founder of ME&V — rebranded as AMPERAGE in 2015. After 25 years of leading creative teams in video production, graphic design, PR, writing and web development, Mark transitioned out of ownership in 2021. Today he serves in an employee role as special projects consultant. He is creatively ambidextrous — son of an artist and engineer — and famous for distilling complex ideas down to a few words and a few visuals. Mark is a writer. When he found that many nonprofits struggled with complex branding puzzles, he wrote the book, “NonProfit-NonMarketing .” He also wrote a novel called “Reenactment.” Mark is an active blogger OneMinuteMarketer® with nearly 1,000 readers each week on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter. One of his most popular YouTube videos is on “How to Look Good on Zoom.” One of Mark’s fondest business memories was being named to INC 500 two times and attending the INC 500 conference with other winners. Mark is considered by some a Civil War expert (and that explains his novel). Mark also served as an adjunct professor in the business and in the communications departments at Wartburg College. Mark is a graduate of the University of Iowa and is currently vice president of the University of Iowa Journalism and Mass Communications Advisory Board. Mark is married to state Sen. Liz Mathis, and the two love to travel, even when it means being trapped by a volcano in the Czech Republic for three weeks.