Posts tagged Student Blogger

Summer Internship Series: Abhilasha Shah

Networking Really is Key

Abhilasha pic 2People always say that in this world, the people you meet are crucial to making your career path. They say that these people could lead you to opportunities, open doors that you could not open so easily on your own. Because of the people that they know and the friends that they have, in essence, your dream could be a simple phone call or email away.

While this is all very true, I feel there is more to gain from networking. During my internship this summer at Mediavest in New York City, I witnessed many interns putting themselves out there and making sure they are known to those in leadership positions, while not reaching out as much to colleagues lower on the command chain. These interns strive to make any sort of conversation, find any tiny connection in order to relate more to the individual and be remembered. All of these efforts are for the mere chance to connect on LinkedIn.

What is often ignored is the insight ANY person in a given company can provide. Whether they have a bigger title or smaller role, everyone has a history of how they ended up there. This summer, I was lucky enough to meet many individuals who had such unique career histories. Even though I may not have been interested in their current roles in their given companies, I was curious about how they ended up where they are.

So, I reached out to them. When talking to these individuals about their career paths (and actually being interested in them rather than their business cards), I felt more connected to them. Furthermore, I learned more about myself, and what I could do with my future based on their choices and experiences. Let me give you some examples (I’m refraining from using real names for the sake of confidentiality, and making up nicknames for the sake of your entertainment).


Scenario #1: Waitress with a Marketing Brain

Waitress works for a different company (not as a waitress, however), but visited Mediavest to talk to the interns. A U of M graduate, she started off her career as a waitress, but used that experience to her advantage. She learned sales techniques, how to market different products to the right audiences, and gained knowledge on customer service and how to interact with consumers. She described herself as an “entertainment enthusiast,” someone who basically watches any show or movie out there. She had numerous jobs in media before her current one, largely because she claimed she gets bored easily and constantly wants to try new things.

What interested me: I could relate to her in that I also love television and movies, I’m from U of M as well, and I get bored very easily in that I refuse to live the same day twice.

What I learned: You don’t have to have knowledge about a particular area to pursue it as your career. In media, you can always hit the ground running and learn on the job, as long as you’re willing to hustle and be confident doing so. I used to always shy away from letting people know how much television I watch, but I learned that I should embrace the title, “entertainment enthusiast.” I really like the sound of that, don’t you? :)


Scenario #2: Music Whisperer

Whisperer graduated college wanting to enter the entertainment industry; more specifically, the music industry. However, at the time, he found that the industry was in a hiring slump. He had interned at Focus Features and Marvel Comics, but his experiences led him to choose the route of an agency. He felt it was a better fit for him because agencies give a broad perspective on the industry, where you have to understand the drive of clients’ business and goals. Even though none of his internship experiences gave him exposure to the agency side of the media industry, he learned that people will always teach you what you need to know as long as you’re willing. To him, the culture of a company is crucial because if you don’t like the people that you work with, even if it’s your dream job, you’ll be miserable.

What interested me: His entertainment-related internships, his knowledge about the opportunities in the industry, and the fact that he, also, becomes bored easily and has a zest for life. At this point, I started to notice a pattern with people working in the media industry.

What I learned: Taking risks and jumping out of your comfort zone can benefit you. Don’t narrow your dream job too much because you may not be aware of another opportunity you’d love more. Therefore, continuously learn, read, study, and adapt.


Scenario #3: Homegirl from Ho(M)e

Homegirl is also a U of M alumna and has worked at the same media agency for a very long time. Before that, she worked at Disney ABC Television Group. However, even though she worked in two different industries (entertainment and media), her career path focused on one common area: recruiting. She discussed good networking techniques: how to make an impression, how they can help you, but also, how you can help them.

What interested me: She was a U of M alumna as well, she worked at Disney ABC Television Group (#goals) where recruiting is all about the connections you have, and her immense networking knowledge.

What I did: I walked up to her and did exactly what she had talked about in terms of good networking. I brought up U of M (which was a hit, as you can imagine), and outright told her that I was interested in the entertainment industry. She replied with a smile, “Well, now you know me. Send over your résumé when you’re looking and I’ll help you out!”

While I know that the last example wasn’t a great one because I was more interested in the connections she had, I did learn a lot from her, however. She helped me see that people know the difference between when you’re sweet-talking them for their connections and when you’re genuinely interested in learning. Keep in mind, however, they have busy lives too. While networking, we have to figure out how we can help THEM, why helping us will benefit THEM, and why they should even take the time.

I learned so much this summer – not just from what my managers and team had taught me on the job, but also, from talking to them about their past and their future goals. The more I talk to people and hear their stories, the more I learn about myself – and that’s why this internship has taught me more than I could have ever imagined. I had the unique opportunity to work with individuals while also learning about their diverse backgrounds. While it’s a different kind of learning than sitting in a classroom, it’s definitely an exciting one.

Abhilasha Pic

Summer Internship Series: Hannah Schiff

Hannah Schiff photoFor the past four weeks I have been interning at Clique. Clique is the content and technology company behind the fashion brand Who What Wear, which is the leading platform for shoppable fashion and style content. Clique also owns the beauty site Byrdie and the lifestyle site MyDomaine. As an avid reader of Who What Wear for many years, excitement was an understatement when I received news that I had earned this internship.

I am an Affiliate Partnerships Intern, working on all of Clique’s platforms. For those of you who don’t know what affiliate partnerships are (I didn’t when I started), they are the business relationships that Clique has with the various brands and companies that are featured on the three websites. These partnerships are a source of revenue for Clique, as the company makes a commission from products featured on the site that are then purchased by consumers. The Affiliate Partnerships department also focuses on SHOP, Clique’s e-commerce site, where all the products featured are shoppable. Boutiques such as “Stylish & Comfortable Shoes to Wear to the Airport” or “The Most Powerful Waterproof Mascaras” that are developed by Clique editors are featured on the site. Everything in the boutiques can be purchased online.

Over the past few weeks, I have been working on numerous different projects, all of which have been interesting and exciting. I normally start my day by going through all three sites (Who What Wear, Byrdie, and MyDomaine) and doing edit inclusions. Edit inclusions is the process of reviewing all articles on the sites, and noting if and when an affiliate partner product is featured. All of this information is crucial to ensuring that a promotion with each specific brand runs effectively. In addition, I have been working with different affiliate networks by researching trends in sales for different companies.

On the more creative side of my job, I help develop numerous “boutiques” for SHOP during each week. I am able to handpick products that I think would fit within the parameters of each specific boutique and that are aligned with Clique standards. My favorite part of the internship so far is writing social media posts that direct readers to different SHOP boutiques. I have been scheduling social posts since the first week, but more recently I have been given the opportunity to write the content that I schedule. As a Communication Studies major and Writing minor, I love writing and it has been so fun to write for Clique. Social posts, however, are a lot harder to create than I thought. When crafting posts, I have to use a specific style that not only engages the reader, but also makes them want to click on the link.

So far I have really enjoyed my internship at Clique. Given that I hope to one-day work for a fashion magazine, working at Clique this summer has been an amazing opportunity!


Summer Internship Series: Sarah Scott

This summer, I have the pleasure of serving as a marketing intern with Merit, a cause-based fashion brand located here in Ann Arbor that shapes the fate of students in need by helping send them to college. Merit does this by donating 20% of ALL revenue to fund college scholarships. It’s an amazing cause that I’m truly passionate about.


I actually discovered this internship opportunity in the Communication Studies weekly emails that Cheryl Erdmann, the Undergraduate Program Coordinator for the Department, sends out. Prior to receiving the email, I had already been following Merit closely as its cause is one that I highly regard. Dave Merritt, founder of Merit Goodness, has hosted multiple events on campus so I have also had the opportunity to hear him speak on various occasions.


In order to land the position, I went through what I felt was a standard application process. I followed-up with the weekly email and sent my resume and cover letter to Merit. I was fortunate enough to be one of the students selected for an interview. From there, the rest is history.  I am so thankful for the opportunity to work with such an amazing brand.


This summer has certainly been a whirlwind.  Not only is it the summer before my senior year officially starts, but I also celebrated my 21st birthday in June at a Merit event.  On my birthday I had the unique opportunity to attend Virgin Atlantic’s “Ain’t Too Proud to Pitch” event at the College for Creative Studies in Detroit representing Merit! I will always remember this special night.


“Ain’t Too Proud to Pitch” was an event to celebrate the launch of the new Virgin Atlantic flight service between Detroit and London. The event provided networking opportunities, insight and discussion for an audience of 300 guests, made up of media, Detroit influencers and business owners. Sir Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group, was the host accompanied by a panel consisting of Dan Gilbert, chairman and founder of Rock Ventures and Quicken Loans, Bridget Russo, chief marketing officer for Shinola, and Adirel Thompson, founder of Digital Laundre. At the event, Dave Meritt, founder of Merit had the chance to pitch the Merit story to Richard and the rest of the panel.


Sarah Scott Picture

(Merit Marketing Interns at Virgin Atlantic’s “Ain’t Too Proud to Pitch.” I’m wearing red.)

Prior to the event, interns were instructed to create a social media content calendar to be utilized to generate awareness about Merit and its involvement in Virgin Atlantic’s “Ain’t Too Proud to Pitch” event. As part of this calendar, we collaboratively developed posts across all social media platforms announcing Merit’s involvement in “Ain’t Too Proud to Pitch” generating approximately 204 likes more than the average in just two days! It was very rewarding to know that we were successful in engaging with the public on social media through our posts.


Needless to say, this “Ain’t Too Proud to Pitch” event was an incredible experience and a fabulous way to spend my birthday! I could go on and on about how wonderful Merit is but it is better you see for yourself. If you’re in Ann Arbor, be sure to stop by the store at 1113 S. University Ave and support; if not, make sure you visit to check out our products and learn more about the cause.


I’m thrilled to continue learning and putting my skills to use through this internship. I can’t wait to see what the rest of the summer has in store!


Summer Internship Series: Nathan Novaria

A Summer in Pure Michigan

Nathan Novaria_1I enjoy work that positively impacts the lives of people, so when the time came to search for an internship position, I decided to return to my old stomping grounds for another summer instead of looking for a new job. Located in my hometown of Kalamazoo, MI, Southwest Michigan First (SMF) is nonprofit economic development organization that is passionate about cultivating a strong future in the seven counties that make up our region. Established in 1999 on the principle that the most powerful force for change is a well-paying job, it focuses on projects and initiatives that positively impact the lives of people.  With its unique model of philanthropy and capitalism, the organization is internationally recognized from Melbourne to Vancouver for its innovation in the field of economic development.


As a double major in Communication Studies and Organizational Studies, the position as a Communications Fellow seamlessly blends together my courses of study at the University of Michigan and provides me with the opportunity to look at my projects through a variety of lenses.  Within the position, I primarily work on the marketing team assisting with the strategic branding efforts of each part of the organization. Most recently, SMF launched an internship search site,, which provides students at the surrounding universities in Kalamazoo County with helpful application preparation and interview resources as well as a list of internships posted by local companies throughout the entirety of the year. Collaborating with a team of two awesome supervisors, I assisted in the execution of a launch strategy that helped market the site to our two target groups: college students and businesses.  Through crafting audience-focused marketing content and utilizing Hootesuite, a social media management software program, as well as other various online marketing resources, the website has seen a successful launch. Companies are able to connect directly with young talent looking for professional experience before entering the workforce, and college students can gain valuable insight into the application process before beginning their job search.


In addition to fine tuning my marketing and social media skills, the project has also allowed me to work with a passionate team of individuals and continue to develop my own work aesthetic. Organizational efficiency is a key component in the operations and practices in Southwest Michigan First. By collaborating, setting benchmarks and effectively managing each of our tasks, we are accomplishing our set goals and ensuring the mission of SMF is fulfilled.  Each individual is an integral part of the work that we do within the organization.  Though each member has their strengths and weaknesses, united together we are able to accomplish work in an efficient and effective manner that one individual could not do alone. I am thankful for this opportunity to work with an award-winning nonprofit filled with mentors and leaders that are making a difference in the lives of others.


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Nathan Novaria and the other SMF interns



Summer Internship Series: Katelin Toporski

The Skinny on my Summer: Tips from a Fat Camp Intern

1I stood at the train station in Grand Rapids, MI, anxiously waiting to board. Since February, I’d been dreaming of the day that my “Big New York Adventure” would start.

In October, I eagerly applied for internships, hoping that some glamorous company would catch my eye, hire me immediately, and pay me a disgusting amount of money…apparently that’s not how the internship hunt works.

I watched my friends within the Communication Studies program get hired by Chevy, the PGA Tour, and even the New York Times! I was beyond envious, until I finally received a Skype interview from Camp 2Shane, New York’s infamous weight-loss camp. About two weeks after my interview, I was offered the position of Social Media & Marketing intern!

No, it wasn’t in the city. No, it wasn’t high-paying. No, it was not what I had in mind when I originally began my search for the internship of my dreams. But, it was an opportunity for growth, improvement, and the implementation of the skills I had learned during my first two years of Communications prerequisites. (Plus, another chance to drop the lingering remnants of my “Freshman 15”).

3After an 18-hour train ride, an awkward, train station pick-up from a coworker who only listened to Nickelback, and various phone calls to update my ever-worrying mother, I arrived in the boondocks of upstate New York to start what was sure to be an interesting summer. I was hurtled into the land of social media management, SEO (search engine optimization), fitness blogging, and healthy eating. From Zumba to spin class, cooking to nutrition, I’m the public’s secret eye to the inside of the camp with all the secrets to fighting childhood obesity.

Approaching my three week mark of the nine I’ll be here at Shane, I look back to see what I’ve learned thus far…

  1. Being on time is important. Whether you work for a Fortune 500 or a summer camp, make sure you’re punctual.
  2. Set goals for yourself. Make a list of what you need to accomplish for the day, the week, the month, the summer! You’ll get things done when you have a list.
  3. Social media is so real and so important. Parents, campers, perspective clients, relatives, etc. LOVE seeing pictures and updates. One of the key tools in being successful in marketing and recruiting is having a solid platform on several social media sites.
  4. Confidence is important, drive is huge, but passion is key. Enter into projects with an enthusiasm unknown to mankind. Blow them out of the water with your dedication, your ideas, and your get-it-done and get-it-done-well attitude.
  5. Don’t forget to have fun. While most hours I’m typing up healthy-living blogs, making copies, or sounding overly-excited while answering the phone, I still find time to have the4 traditional summer camp fun. Make friends and memories; take advantage of this wonder that is summer.

So, whether you’re waiting tables, babysitting, or interning big this summer, redefine your name, create an outstanding work ethic, and grow your skills in every way possible.

While I’m losing some pounds, interning at fat camp is helping me gain so much more.

Kate out.



Summer Internship Series: Allison Raeck

The Internship Search: What I Wish I Would’ve Known

Allison Raeck picWith the summer flying by, it’s hard to believe how much has happened in the past six months. In January, I was scrambling to find an internship, scouring websites, databases and career fairs for something to do this summer. Today, I’m interning at the Executive Office of Governor Rick Snyder in Lansing, Michigan. Here, I work with the Communications Division, which is responsible for helping craft the Governor’s messages and present them to the state.

When I applied for the position, I thought it might be a lot of busy work (copying, filing, coffee runs, etc.) but, in actuality, my experience has been extremely hands-on. I’ve had the opportunity to tag along and help out with multiple events across the state, including a Criminal Justice special message in Detroit, a sexual assault summit in Lansing and even a royal visit from the Dutch king and queen in Grand Rapids. At the same time, I’ve put to use what I’ve learned in many of my Communication Studies courses while gaining new skills that will help broaden my horizons after graduation.

Still, there are a lot of things I wish I had known a year ago that would have made the internship application process a whole lot easier. Here are some lessons I’ve learned along the way:

Start the search early. While I thought I had all year to work on my resume, I quickly learned that a lot of deadlines for summer internships are in the fall and winter. My application for the Governor’s Office position was due in January and if I wouldn’t have been on the lookout, I would’ve missed it. I’d recommend checking out internships for next summer this summer. (I know this probably isn’t what you wanted to hear. But, if you get your resume and cover letters prepped now while you have some free time, you’ll thank yourself later.)

Apply, apply, apply! Though it may seem like your schoolwork and extracurricular responsibilities are overwhelming enough as it is, don’t forget to devote time to the internship search. To help separate my school and “work” lives, I treated my applications like a class; I would devote an afternoon each week solely to researching and applying for internships. Making a timeline in my schedule also helped me stay on top of application deadlines (and maintain my personal sanity – ha!).

Only consider a job you would actually accept. This seems obvious, but when I was looking around for internships, I was so desperate that I found myself writing cover letters for an array of positions, some of which I wasn’t sure I even wanted. Though I think it’s in your best interest to “apply, apply, apply!” (see above), only do so for positions that you truly believe are right for you and the career path you want to take. If the job description already seems boring or doesn’t mention anything even remotely similar to what you would want to do for the rest of your life, that’s a warning sign. Remember: there are a lot of internships out there. To make sure you don’t waste your (or your interviewer’s) time, only interview for a position you would accept if offered a job on the spot.

Have confidence in your application. When I first started applying for summer positions, I thought I’d be happy if anyone contacted me. Seriously – I was checking my email hourly for any sign that someone out there had read my resume. So, for some reason, when I actually received calls and emails in response, I was shocked. Remember: you are a highly-qualified shining star. Don’t let apprehension and anxiety get in the way of showing hiring managers what you would bring to the table. Internships are competitive, and you’ve got to do what it takes to stand out, so hide the humility for once and brag a little! And when you get that phone call, remain cool, calm and collected (regardless of how many backflips you may or may not be doing).

Be prepared to actually do everything you say you can do. Does your resume claim that you are “extremely proficient” in Excel when, really, you’ve only opened the program twice in your life? Have you told an employer you have “professional experience with graphic design” because you added text to an image on Microsoft Paint that one time? It may be tempting to throw a ton of skills and “power verbs” into your resume or cover letter, but remember: if you’re hired for that position, your boss is going to expect you to deliver on your promises. Stand out, but be truthful.

Don’t be afraid of getting multiple offers; just have an action plan ready. Don’t get me wrong. Getting a few different internship offers is a great problem to have. If that’s you, congratulations! You are capable, confident and qualified. Still, this can be an extremely awkward situation, so be prepared. Last spring, March rolled around and I had a few different people calling for interviews. I was careful to plan out all factors of the positions (such as location, responsibilities and future plans) to help decide which would be best for me. It might break your heart but, chances are, you’re going to have to turn down some great positions. This happens – just realize, however, that having multiple offers awards you the privilege to be picky.

Looking back now, I don’t know what I was so nervous about when I was applying for internships. The professionals I work with at the Governor’s Office are overwhelmingly welcoming and approachable, and I’m sure your prospective employers will be as well. So, don’t be afraid—get out there! You’ll never land a position if you don’t apply. Walk into your interview with the reassurance that your coursework as a Communication Studies student has not only prepared you for this, but made you a strong, capable candidate. Chances are you know a lot more than you think you do and will do great wherever the winding road of internship applications leads you.




Ph.D. Program: A First-Year Student’s Perspective

Douglas Brunton is not your average graduate student.  Before enrolling at the University of Michigan for a Ph.D. in Communication Studies, he worked in multiple communications-related positions for a total of 25 years.  To name a few, his roles ranged from advertising creative director to newspaper columnist, from communications manager to television producer.  During this time he also received his master’s degree in New Media and Society at the University of Leicester in the United Kingdom.  Not only did he bring his diverse professional and educational experiences to our graduate program, but also, his unique perspective as an international student from the Caribbean.  In Rackham Graduate School’s blog, Brunton recounts these experiences and more, outlining his successful completion of his first year in our graduate program.

Television Production Teams Work 9 – 5 Too and Matt Loved It

As a self-described “television junkie,” I was simultaneously enthralled and terrified to begin my summer internship with The Today Show.  My excitement to work for one of the most highly regarded news programs in the country was somehow overshadowed by the fear that television, my beloved television, would be demystified, and I would be left staring at the metaphoric wizard behind the curtain.  READ MORE »

Balancing a Student & Singer/Songwriter/Guitarist Lifestyle

Communication Studies student Lisa Ritchie has found a unique opportunity while attending the University of Michigan: she has collaborated with two other UM students, used the university’s multi-million dollar recording studio, and released an indie-pop EP single earlier this year. Ritchie is the singer, songwriter, and acoustic guitarist for Hush, Love alongside bandmates Tom Halpin and Nick Rifken.

Here’s what Lisa Ritchie had to say of her experience thus far: READ MORE »

Study Abroad Blogger: Julia McClellan

Hola from Buenos Aires!!! My name is Julia McClellan and I am a junior majoring in Communications. I am studying abroad in Buenos Aires, Argentina through NYU’s media studies and journalism program. I have always heard that Buenos Aires is comparable to New York City (my home) with a European vibe. That description, combined with the fact that it is also located in South America, made it irresistible to me!            READ MORE »