Celie Shankman ’21
Hometown: Memphis, TN
Majors: Communication & Marketing
Internships can be all sorts of shapes, sizes, and locations – Celie is an expert on this! Heading into her senior year this Fall, Celie just wrapped up her 5th internship while being a student at the College of Charleston. From managing social media for a coffee roastery, to being a research intern for a non-profit, to volunteering with a non-partisan political series, she has quite the range of work experience. It is easy to see why we wanted to check in to get her perspective on completing an internship during the coronavirus pandemic.
Celie is an avid believer of taking advantage of all the opportunities you can to gain more experience. Though her internship was completed for academic credit towards her Marketing major, she naturally was also drawing connections back to her Communication major. Talk about efficient! While Celie clearly has a preference for working in-person, as indicated in her responses below, she adapted to the challenges that COVID-19 threw her way with an extended internship local to her hometown.
Celie’s Summer 2020 Internship During a Pandemic
Organization: Humane Society of Memphis and Shelby County
Internship Title: Marketing Intern
Location: Remote, with weekly trips to the shelter. (organization based in Memphis, TN)
Hours Per Week: 15+
Academic Credit? Yes, towards the Marketing major (MKTG 444).
What did you do for your internship? My main tasks included running the company’s Instagram and Facebook account. By doing this, I was in charge of all posts, all photos, answering all messages and comments, and creating captions. To go beyond my simple responsibilities, I started filming and editing videos that were posted for donation pleas as well as doing “takeover” days for the animals. Some days I would highlight the kittens at the shelter, while other days I would let the audience decide what a dog did the entire day! I wrote emails related to big events, brand awareness, and donation pleas. I also took photos/videos of new animals and wrote their biographies for their adoption page. Since I was their first intern, I filled in the gaps between department communication and had to brainstorm what I could do instead of being told what specifically to focus on. My manager was the Director of Philanthropy, but I worked with and assisted the Marketing Coordinator. While they focused on big events and PR, I focused on being consistent with marketing needs such as website updates for adoptions, new animal content, and social media upkeep.
What was your favorite part of your internship? My favorite was working with other departments and people not directly related to mine. I often had to take photos of animals at different staff locations such as the vet clinic, kennels, the cat house, and the front desk. A second favorite was working closely with animals and getting to see them get adopted after I helped craft their information.
What was it like being remote? My internship started in-person, and then became remote when coronavirus cases started rapidly appearing in the United States. While I did mostly work at home, I went into the shelter once a week to take photos and videos of new animals that arrived. It was difficult to work remotely since not everyone communicates well and animals came in and out of our shelter so quickly. I do not feel as though there were many pros to working remotely since I am the type of person to get distracted if I am not doing something in-person. I only needed my laptop, Zoom, my phone to take photos, and emails to complete my internship remotely.
Was it hard to find a summer internship? Since I started my internship before COVID-19, I am not sure how hard it was for others to find a job during the pandemic. I will say, another nonprofit reached out to me because they were looking for summer interns, so I do believe there were options available if people looked.
Did you experience difficulties completing your internship during COVID-19? If I was not allowed to come into the building and take photos of new animals, I would have definitely struggled. I created a content bank, but there was not enough available to have great media content without going to the shelter. It was difficult to get into contact with some staff members, which caused my work schedule to become inconsistent.
What is your advice to COMM students looking to take a Fall 2020 internship during a pandemic? Companies will be looking for fresh eyes and talent to help them boost their business during this hard time. If you can show consistency through your communication and also show creativity, you will be able to find an internship! Once you have had an internship, your next ones come much more easily. It is difficult to receive an internship without having prior work experience, so I highly recommend getting one as soon as you can. When going to a job interview, come prepared to talk about new ideas for the company, specifically strengths you have that will benefit them.