Kaelin Jackson: AARP
Traveling the Country with AARP
Describe your internship. Where were you and what did you do?
I interned with AARP’s Brand Event Strategy and Services team at the AARP national headquarters office in Washington, D.C. As a brand event strategy and services intern, I did a little bit of everything from strategic communications to event planning. I worked on various different events throughout the summer, some were bigger events like the D.C. Citi Open and the Women’s Leadership Conference, and others were smaller events like the Washington D.C. Office Opening Day and Ad Council meetings. For those events I would research and book venues, create event flow and logistic documents, and discuss all aspects of putting on the events. My main focus this summer revolved around the AARP Block Parties, a traveling exhibit that engages attendees with interactive experiences that relate to AARP’s programs and purpose, showing people a different side to AARP.
I created all sorts of documents, for example staff briefing documents, New Orleans Essence Festival media report and brief; I came up with copy-points and paid media ideas for magazines and Facebook posts advertising the New Orleans Block Party. I created a social media survey and came up with tweets that would be put on Twitter leading up to the event. I got to travel with the team and see my events in action in Washington, D.C, Detroit, Seattle and Denver.
How did you develop this internship? What advice do you have for others?
I actually found this internship on LinkedIn.com, I just searched Event/Communications/PR internships and found this one. It took a lot of time and hard work; I sent in a cover letter and my resume with the application and went through several interviews to finally land the position. Some advice I would give others would be not to be discouraged by the time and work it takes, and to keep an open-mind. I applied to so many internships, some large companies as well as some really small companies, I really didn’t have preference nor my heart set out on one specific job or company, and I think that helped me a lot because it was a lot less stressful. Applying to internships can feel a bit discouraging at times because you put so much work and effort into it and you never know if you’ll even get an interview, but I would suggest to all students just not to give up. Try applying to one or two internships a week, that way it’s not too stressful on you, you can focus on that specific application, and after a month you’ll have gotten many applications in, better your chances of getting an interview to at least one!
What are the most important things you learned during the internship—both in and out of the office?
During my internship I remember thinking back to school and saying, “I remember reading about this,” or “I did a project on that,” it was almost surreal to me to watch what I read in textbooks at school actually be implemented in the working world. The most important thing I learned was the experience, I know that sounds funny, but in school I read about and practiced all of these different tactics and reports, and then at my internship I would actually have to do them and it’d be real world situations that could potentially make or break a company. It was very eye-opening and being put in these real world situations makes you learn so much more. I learned what I do and don’t want in a career, I learned to always have a back-up plan or copy, I learned how to better reach your target audience, and I didn’t just learn this through books or a professor, I learned it through my own personal experience.
What advice do you have for interns during the internship experience?
I think that the best advice I can give to other interns would be to ask questions and give it your all. At first, I thought it would be annoying for an intern keep asking the boss questions, but it turns out people actually love getting asked questions. When you ask questions, you can learn so much more, you get to know the other employees better, they feel that you are interested and eager to learn, and you will be certain to do the job just as they wanted. If you ask questions and give each task your best, your employers will be so impressed and start giving you more and more tasks. You never know where one conversation will take you, for example I was sitting in on a meeting revolving a certain event and I just asked one question, what the organization the event sponsored does, which then led to a bigger conversation and I ended up working with the Executive Vice President on multiple occasions, just because I asked one silly question. So, you really never know where a conversation will lead you, so always ask questions and get involved.
Is there anything else you want to add?
The last thing I will say is to make the most of your internship, no matter how you feel about it, make the most of it. You never know where you may end up, so just go out there and give it you’re all… and have fun!
Last Updated: July 26, 2018