How My Internship Propelled Me from the Classroom to the Cubicle

Today’s industry is demanding. It’s taxing. It’s downright competitive. I’ve had it drilled in my head that I need above a 4.0 and a minimum of three internships to unlock my full potential in the industry. Rewind to January, and I was a college junior with little “real-world” experience but yearning to make my mark. This left me scouring textbooks for knowledge and websites for internship opportunities.

Lucky for me, I discovered Jackson Spalding’s Dallas office, and I’ve spent the past summer interning in there. I thought countless classes and investing three years with The University of Alabama’s student-led Capstone Agency would have fully prepared me for the professional world – but some things you just can’t learn in the classroom.

On my first day, I armed myself with words from textbooks like RPIE (Research-Planning-Implementation-Evaluation), creative briefs and content marketing to use at a project’s notice. At that moment, I credited my frantic behavior to first-day jitters, but now realize I was trying to prepare myself for the journey ahead.

Not once has this been your typical “coffee fetching” internship. From the get-go, I was given not only a seat, but a voice, at the table. JS has challenged me beyond belief, and I needed it. Since my first day, I’ve felt just a little out of my comfort zone. And that’s a good thing in my book, but it’s something my public relations’ books never taught me. My college coursework paved the way for my not-so-average internship at Jackson Spalding, but this is where unchartered territory began.

Two of the agency’s clients are businesses I knew little to nothing about before June, but thanks to my internship, I was stretched to immerse myself in their respective industries. I learned the ins and outs of the automotive industry with Interstate Batteries (maybe – just maybe – I’ll call my dad with less car maintenance questions), and I coordinated a Deshaun Watson sponsorship event for Mattress Firm, including media coverage, event logistics and social strategy – along with other hands-on learning opportunities.

I won’t deny it – one of my professors had given a lecture on how growth and comfort don’t coexist, but I didn’t really understand it until my time at Jackson Spalding. Succeeding in the classroom is important, but there’s just some things you can’t learn from a textbook. In order to grow, you have to go out and do, even if it makes you a little uncomfortable. That experience, combined with passion and perseverance, is the secret sauce to success from the classroom to the cubicle. After all, growth and comfort don’t coexist.