Diary of an Intern: Summer ’18 at Consensus
To fully document my summer at Consensus Inc., it might be best to take a step backward. Since I was seven years old, I knew I wanted to be a sports journalist. It was my confident, kneejerk response to the daunting “what do you want to be?!” question we all get growing up.
But after testing the waters with a few journalism internships, I found that the industry wasn’t everything I wanted it to be. Unfortunately, I figured this out pretty late in the game. The summer following one’s junior year of college is generally known as the time to secure a keystone internship. And just months before that summer was due to arrive, I was in the midst of a career change—suffice to say I was nervous.
The logical next step in the back of my mind was always PR. Which made sense when I thought about it because a lot of the skills learned in journalism are used in PR, but I still didn’t know how to make that transition—and when I arrived at Consensus, I was surprised at what my first day had waiting for me.
Even though I was an intern (no less one that didn’t have any hard PR experience), I was thrown into the fire. My task? Research a client’s existing communication policies and develop a preemptive crisis plan. It was quite the assignment, but I was up for it. Challenges tend to bring out the best in us, which was why I immediately felt trusted and worthwhile when I was assigned one. After my work was done, I had the chance to sit down and discuss my approach versus what my colleague may have done in my shoes.
Not only was I afforded a chance to showcase my ability, but I was also given valuable, one-on-one feedback that would shape my experience at Consensus—something that, elsewhere, I’m not so sure someone would have had the patience to do. One piece of advice from that first day that still rings true: “Treat this internship like a buffet. Learn whatever you can from whoever you can.” And I have—except I keep going back guiltlessly for seconds. And my colleagues are patient, understanding and eager to help me in my quest to learn. Because Consensus is a firm that invests in its personnel as people, not assets.
I quickly realized that labeling Consensus a “traditional PR firm,” or labeling it anything at all for that matter, is a disservice to the quality work that the firm does. Sure, our staff is available for crisis management as needed and can always pitch a reporter, but Consensus does far more than that. No, what’s allowed this internship to exceed my expectations by a longshot is Consensus’ versatility.
Consensus is a small firm, which ultimately proves to be its best asset. Each of its employees is perfectly capable of creating a great web design, compelling messages for a campaign or rallying support around a brand. Which, in other words, means these things are expected of everyone. And with excellent resources around you, it’s much easier to sharpen these skills to ensure that when you are given that challenging task that will inevitably come your way, you’re ready for it.
Truthfully, we’re more of a family than anything else. To that end, even when tasked with complex projects, I was always encouraged to offer up my ideas—because my coworkers treated them valuably!
That respectfulness that perpetually permeates the office is something not easily recreated. It makes collaborating as organic as it can be and walking into the office a natural way to check in on coworkers’ personal lives.
My summer at Consensus was by far the best work experience I have ever had. I’ve often said this whenever asked about my time here, “Consensus makes waking up in the morning as easy as can be.”
The work is riveting and wildly thought-provoking. That aside though, I never once felt dispensable. I knew that my role was key in the firm’s success and my colleagues treated me like it. There is no hierarchy at Consensus, which is never more present at the forefront of my mind than when I walk in to a workspace where everyone is out in the open and accessible.
Maybe that’s the best way to describe Consensus. As I tested the waters and exposed myself to vulnerability in a new field, my colleagues lifted me up and empowered me to reach my potential. If you want to work in an environment where you’ll have an impact and learn immensely about how to best hone your craft, this is the place to do so. I promise you won’t regret it, nor will you ever feel like an intern.
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