Ready For The Real World: My Summer Internship at STARKMAN

August 6, 2014

“You must savor college while you still can!” is a phrase I’ve grown accustomed to hearing, thanks to the countless number of people in the so-called “real world,” who continue to remind me in a not-so-gentle way that graduation is looming in the near future. As I prepare to return to Holy Cross for my senior year of college, and reflect upon these seemingly innocuous warnings, I can’t seem to avoid the wave of anxiety that resonates within each time I am reminded of my daunting, grown-up future.

I have always been a “school person.” Maybe it’s the smell of a crisp, New England fall, or maybe it’s the fresh notebooks, highlighters and pens, but I’ve always greeted the first day of classes with open arms. When I decided to intern at STARKMAN this summer, I had no idea that I could feel the same sort of excitement I feel for the higher education industry in the corporate world.

When I arrived at STARKMAN’s West 46th Street office, I was immediately welcomed by a smiling and energetic team—that, and by an office overflowing with plants, which seemingly lost their will to live over the course of the summer. (It’s a good thing STARKMAN specializes in PR and not horticulture, but I give them an A for effort!) Making me feel right at home, the team briefed me on the variety of clients the firm represents, and the ones with which I’d be actively engaged over the course of my internship. You can imagine my excitement when I learned that the sector I’d be working with most closely was one I am currently a part of— higher education.

Each morning, I began my daily routine by scanning online media sources for news clips relevant to the industry—I was never at a loss for stories! With all the talk of “gainful employment,” “student debt” and “for-profit colleges,” I soon became well versed in higher education issues dominating the sector’s political arena in Washington D.C.—and couldn’t help but notice how easily previously unfamiliar jargon became part of my daily vocabulary. Before long, my mindset shifted from that of an innocent college student, to that of a PR person, and I began to view the higher education sector as a business in need of some reputation management. That’s where STARKMAN comes in. They never flinch at Washington’s curve balls, and they deliberate carefully over each project to help clients receive the right media attention. With their acute attention to detail and professional approach, STARKMAN leaves no stone unturned when it comes to their work.

In short, the public relations work STARKMAN performs on a daily basis makes an extraordinary difference to each client and helps impact the professional arenas in which those clients operate. I’m sure I’m not the only one who hopes to land in a career where I can do the same—and do so with the enthusiasm and results-driven attitude STARKMAN exhibits.

Indeed, I learned several invaluable lessons from the STARKMAN team this summer: that a good cause and a good attitude present promising opportunities to make a difference, that a tailored approach for each client is a sure-fire way to succeed, and that there is plenty of excitement to be had in post-college life. I also learned a few life essentials: there is still at least one working payphone in NYC, there is no such thing as too many cupcakes, and avocados are exceptionally tasty when combined with pine nuts.

So, yes, I will savor college while I still can. I will return to Holy Cross, paper and pen in hand, as excited as ever. But, the daunting perception of the “real world” is not as pervasive as it once was—thanks to working with such a driven and innovative team at STARKMAN. As a student, intern, and soon to be “real” person, I am truly thankful for your guidance and support in helping me build the foundation of my (now not so dismal looking) future.