The Internship Experience: Week 6

This post is part of our weekly series, The Internship Experience. This series details the experiences of Thomas, Amy, and Sean as interns at The Principal Financial Group. For a full recap, check out the series preview.

Hi, I’m Sean Walsh. I am a senior Public Relations major at Drake University in Des Moines and am also interning at Principal Financial Group in the Corporate Relations Department. Before I talk about the experiences I have had and lessons I’ve learned in my first few weeks, I think it would be a good idea to give some background information about what types of responsibilities employees in the Corporate Relations Department at The Principal do.

The department encompasses several different areas including employee communications, advertising, web development, media relations, financial communications, corporate marketing, sponsorships and community relations. I’m working primarily with the employee communications team (writing articles and features for the intranet site, Inside the Principal, and editing a monthly employee newsletter, The Principal Press). I am also working with the community relations team a bit, working as a communication liaison for the volunteer network at the company and planning special projects, like The Principal’s booth at this weekend’s Des Moines Arts Festival.

It’s hard to believe that I just completed my sixth week interning at The Principal. This summer, I am also working for Drake as an Orientation Leader for incoming first-year students. This has caused me to miss a couple days of work this past month. And with all kinds of various job responsibilities, I’ve really had to learn the importance of balancing my time while I’m at work because I nearly all of my projects have specific deadlines. My leaders leave it up to me to get all of my job tasks complete; I know that they are not going to be constantly asking me about how each of my articles or projects are coming along, because they all have a plateful of work for themselves.

This is what I love about jobs in PR and the department I’m in: There is always something to do, very rarely is there ever a dull moment. I learned this right away my first week. After spending a couple hours attending intern orientation and meeting different interns from around the company, I spent the afternoon getting situated and organized at my cubicle. I spent some time figuring out my computer email settings, recording my voicemail message and organizing the supplies in my drawer. I was set to make the most out of this internship. What surprised me most about the first week of work is how right off the bat, I was a member of the team.

My Workspace

This is my workspace - quite a bit different from Thomas' cube!

The previous intern left a couple informational binders about various tasks that I was responsible for. I studied those the first couple of days and set up meetings with different members of my team. By the end of the week I had written my first articles for the intranet site and was starting to put together the newsletter I’m responsible for. I felt so accomplished! I really appreciate the value that employees of The Principal put on their interns. Besides planning various intern program and events for us, they most importantly make us feel like a serious part of the company.

This is also seen in the amount of responsibility my co-workers gave the other intern in my department and myself in planning the company’s booth at the Des Moines Arts Festival. The two of us were responsible for coming up with an activity for children at our tent, making and printing the collateral, organizing a list of supplies, soliciting and providing information to over 40 volunteers and a variety of other tasks. By putting so much investment in the event that I’ve helped plan since starting in my department, I am beyond excited to see how the event pans out this weekend!

I look forward to continuing to write and share my experiences about my internship and the lessons that I’m learning on College Info Geek throughout the upcoming months.

Sean is a senior in Public Relations at Drake University. He's also a Corporate Relations intern at Principal Financial Group. You can connect with him on Twitter!

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