It’s still hard to believe that just four years ago, I graduated from Syracuse University, packed up my life in two suitcases and moved to the nation’s capital to launch my PR career by interning for an award-winning agency in Georgetown.
I was excited, nervous, anxious and completely green, but super grateful to have such an awesome opportunity. And while I had two additional internship experiences immediately after, there are times I look back and wonder – “What could I have done different to maximize my potential in each of those roles?”
If only I had a guide to help me navigate how to search and prepare for an internship and potentially turn it into a full-time job opportunity.
Look no further ladies and gentlemen. “The Coffee Run: And Other Internship Need-To-Knows” is the quintessential guide for college students and recent graduates who want to make their first professional impression the best one.
A graduate from University of Kentucky with a bachelor’s degree in merchandising, apparel and textiles, author Sydney Fulkerson currently works in marketing in Louisville, Kentucky. During her collegiate career she interned for a number of high-profile fashion companies from New York to Los Angeles, which inspired her to write the book.
Her Agenda had the opportunity to speak with Sydney, and learn more about her experience in putting together this 104-page guide for interns everywhere.
Her Agenda: What inspired you to write The Coffee Run?
SF: During my junior year of college, I was enrolled in a required pre-internship class. Throughout the course, much of our work was guided by a textbook, which I thought really didn’t leave us super informed about what we were to expect during our internship experiences. So my senior year, I took a step back and reflected on my internships and began sharing those stories with my friends and classmates. The ultimate inspiration for The Coffee Run, however, came when a student who I didn’t know emailed me and asked if she could meet for coffee and ask questions about finding internships, keeping and dominating them. I knew right then and there I need to put together a definitive guide that would help my peers in their internship search.
Her Agenda: Of your many internship experiences, which one stood out the most?
SF: I would have to say the internship I had after my junior year of college. I was the first intern the company EVER had. It was my first marketing internship, which gave me the chance to try a lot of new things and figure out what I didn’t want to do in a future position. What made this experience so memorable was that I created my own opportunity. I constantly encourage students that if there’s a company that you want to work for and it has no internship program, don’t be afraid to ask! Take the risk and set the stage.
Her Agenda: What would you say was your weakness as an intern, and what did you do to improve upon it?
SF: You truly discover different weaknesses being in different environments, and your weaknesses will always vary between internships. During my last internship, a weakness for me was not contributing as much in meetings because I wasn’t prepared. While I would join weekly meetings, I usually took a back seat and just observed. I personally believe that meetings can be so much more productive if people prepare and have a set agenda. With that in mind, I linked up with my mentor and asked what more I could to do prepare. Needless to say, she was thrilled that I had taken initiative and wanted to improve my performance. Until we ask, we will never know what we need to do in order to step up to the plate.
Her Agenda: You mention your mentor a lot throughout the book. How did you meet your mentor and what advice do you have for readers about obtaining a mentor during their internship?
SF: Throughout my life, I have developed relationships with people who I consider my mentors, all of who I consider an important key to networking and my future. We have this misconception that we only need mentors when we are looking for an internship or job opportunity. But successful people are always building and maintaining relationships regardless. For anyone who is looking for a mentor, I suggest finding someone who is successful in your industry. Successful is an ambiguous term, but to me someone who has made a positive impact is successful. And then you must ask yourself, “How can I add value to this person? Why should they help me?” You want to identify how YOU can help them, and in turn, receive their wisdom. The relationship is so much stronger when it is two-sided.
What I enjoyed most about The Coffee Run was that it was extremely personable. Sydney not only shares her experiences, but she offers key takeaways at the end of each chapter that readers can immediately put into practice. Even as a young professional who has been in the work force for a while, this book served as a great reminder of things I must continue to focus on in order to enhance and empower my career journey.