Intern Diaries – Christopher McGee

This is part of a series where we asked Grady College students to describe their internship experiences during the summer. To see pictures of our Grady students interning, please see our #GradyInternDiaries social media collection.

Other Grady Intern Diary interviews can be viewed here: Nicole ChrzanowskiJamari Jordan | Mariya Lewter | Kelsey Ann Williams | Kalyn Wilson

Name: Christopher McGee

Title of Internship: Healthcare Intern

Company: Burson-Marsteller

Location: Washington, D.C.

Describe a typical workday in your internship.

The most exciting part about working in a PR agency is not knowing what to expect everyday. Don’t get me wrong; there are a few things that remain constant. I spent at least a few hours every day answering emails, sitting in on meetings and being briefed by my manager. However, I had the opportunity to work on various projects that spanned different amounts of time. One week I was working on a memo about the generic drug industry in America for the Japan office, another week I was watching FDA panels and helping a client get ready for a big drug launch. Interns were advised to keep an “internal resume” because we were working on so many different projects, it would soon be hard to remember what we did.

What I enjoyed most about my time at Burson were the frequent learning opportunities. Every week, we had various intern trainings that varied from AP Style to ‘How to Be A Successful Intern’ to Senior Leadership Panels. During the trainings, we were encouraged to ask candid questions and follow-up with the presenters—some of which were top leaders in the company.

What is the biggest challenge you face at your internship?

The biggest challenge I faced was making sure I was detail-oriented in my work. Grady students often talk about the significance of being detail-oriented, but I learned how challenging that actually is. I didn’t realize how important it was to make sure documents (even internal) are well organized and without clerical error. It required me to constantly proofread and double-check everything before pressing send on an important email. And though being detail-oriented is a skill that I’m still working on, I am much better at it than I was when I started my internship.

What is the most influential experience or most important skill you learned at your internship?

Hands down, the best experience of my internship was being a part of a competitive intern project. There were 16 interns that were divided into four groups and asked to create a 35-minute presentation in front of the firm’s senior leadership. The presentation walked us through all the steps that big PR agencies take to win new business and potential questions a client might ask at a pitch. It was extremely intense, and caused many late nights, but it was well worth it because my team won! In addition to bragging rights, Burson lets their interns use the materials from the project as writing samples, too.

What advice would you give to a student looking for an internship?

Networking is so important. I actually had the opportunity to apply for Burson’s summer internship program after the deadline. During an agency tour, I walked up and introduced myself to a recruiter and told her I was interested and a little bit about my background. She told me to email her my resume and the other application materials and the rest was history.

Yes, it is absolutely possible to get hired from online postings, but nothing beats knowing someone at a company you want to work for that can advocate on your behalf. Networking seems so daunting at first, but as a Grady student you have so many great resources around you. In Grady there’s a plethora of networking events, well-connected faculty and career-oriented organizations like PRSSA to help build your network. And with a strong network will come that perfect internship opportunity.

What part of your Grady education did you find most valuable during your internship?

The most important skill I gained at Grady was learning how to research, and research thoroughly. I was asked on many occasions to scan the Internet for trends on certain topics, usually with a short deadline. I had to learn how to quickly find the most relevant information and report it in a way that made sense to everyone reading it. 

Date: September 17, 2015