The Top Four Things I Learned at Snackbox

By Eric Yule

As my final weeks wrap up at Snackbox, it’s hard to believe my internship is almost over. Seven months ago, I was just a college student trying to secure his first internship in the PR world, but I never thought I would be exposed to the amount of knowledge I was able to absorb during my time at Snackbox. As our Creative Director, Eric Oltersdorf, a.k.a. “Snacklord” said, “This internship is the golden ticket,” and after spending seven months with the Snackbox family, I now know why.

In all seriousness, this internship was, without a doubt, my golden ticket in many ways. Going into this internship, I had never had an internship in the PR industry and my mentor, Jenna Oltersdorf, showed me everything she has come to know about PR and the way it functions. She taught me so many things throughout my seven months, I feel my head spinning even trying to think of them all, but I have narrowed down four key things I’ve learned during my time at Snackbox.

Ask for Help

I cannot stress this point enough. Personally, I believe my biggest flaw is asking for help. I’ve grown up with the attitude, “I can do it by myself and I don’t need help” and it has eaten me up more than once. I believe it’ll always be something I’ll struggle with, but the Snackbox family has helped me in breaking down this barrier. There have been moments where I’ve felt overwhelmed with either a specific assignment, my daily task list or just overall life. For my internship period, I only had a short time to complete my assignments, and sometimes an assignment took longer than expected. This left me with a small amount of time to complete the other tasks and led to me sometimes falling behind in work and on deadlines. This is where asking for help pays dividends.

As talented as Jenna is, she can’t read my mind and only I had to ability to let her know when I was feeling overwhelmed or if I was lost with a specific assignment. Mentors are here to make your life easier, not drown you in work and let you figure out how to do it by yourself. You will most likely be doing many tasks that are new to you for the first time as an intern, so don’t be afraid to ask for direction or help on how to do a certain task – it’s safer to ask even if you feel dumb asking a certain question. Chances are, your mentor or supervisor has had the same types of questions when they were just starting out.

Mechanics are Key

Although some assignments may seem tedious or get annoying, don’t get overly frustrated with an assignment. Your mentor isn’t assigning a certain task just to make your life miserable. Ask yourself how an assignment plays into the overall bigger picture for the client. Usually your assignment is tied to two or three other assignments your fellow coworkers have assigned on their task list. Once you get the mechanics down of repeated tasks, the edits will decrease and you will find yourself with more time on your hands to complete the rest of your assignments.

Even when you think your work is perfect, it’s not. You must always triple-check your work and read through it each time thinking, “How can I make this better?” Chances are your work will almost never be perfect the first time you send it in for review so don’t get discouraged if your work has a ton of edits made to it. My dad always told me, “Don’t focus on how they’re saying it. Focus on what they’re saying.” This advice has given me comfort time and time again and it has helped me in developing thick skin. You must look at the kind of feedback you get and not how it’s being delivered. Take your mind off all the red lines and deleted words and focus on how you can learn from the edits and make your work better.

How to Work Efficiently and Effectively

As previously stated, an assignment is usually connected to two or three other assignments that your coworkers are working on. With only a few hours in the day, it’s important you focus on the hard tasks to start and end your day with the easier tasks. At the start of my internship, I found myself focusing on the easier tasks first and I was unable to complete the more difficult tasks by the end of the day. I quickly tried to change my mindset and I definitely found success with my new game plan, but there will always be days where you feel you’re lagging in some way. With only a few hours each day, I had to learn how to finish my work efficiently but also effectively so I didn’t make more work for my fellow colleagues. For me, my personal goal was to come in each day and learn something new, but to also make the workday easier for the whole firm.

The World of PR

My favorite part about public relations is how each day is different and unique in its own way. I can honestly say I didn’t have two days that were the same during my seven months at Snackbox. In PR, every client is different and has their own personality. This is the greatest contributing factor to everyday being different. Sure, the mechanics may be the same, but you never pitch the same thing twice or draft the same press release twice.

Pitching to reporters can also be extremely daunting for an intern. These reporters get thousands of pitches every day and if you mis-pitch a reporter’s beat – oh, man. Luckily, I never received a scathing email from a reporter, ripping me to shreds – but my colleagues at Snackbox have told me lots of stories (and have given me lots of advice on how to avoid this disastrous mistake). Although pitching can be daunting, it can also be extremely fulfilling when you get a bite – especially your first bite. I compare pitching to fishing in a way. I pitch to my media list and I wait patiently. Sometimes the reporter’s bite on a pitch nonstop and it feels great, but sometimes you only get one or two bites and that’s okay! With pitching you need to try different tactics to stand out in that inbox of a thousand other pitches, but not overly obnoxious because these fish can bite back!

This internship has been one of the most intense yet satisfying periods of my college career. All I needed was an opportunity to show what I was worth and Snackbox gave me that chance. For those who have not secured their first internship yet, don’t give up. It may be extremely discouraging at times but keep casting your line out to whomever you can find, someone will eventually bite and give you an opportunity like Snackbox did for me. The best advice I can give to someone entering his or her first internship is: work hard, work smart and absorb everything you possibly can during your internship period.