Communications student Hannah Antillón shares how an experiential learning opportunity has enhanced her time at BYU
Imagine never having visited Disneyland before and hearing your friend describe Splash Mountain to you in her own words. No matter how detailed she makes the description, you won’t feel the drop in your stomach or the mist in your face unless you go and experience it for yourself. Similarly, as a student in the BYU public relations program, I would hear my teachers describe the reality of a PR agency, but could not picture it because I had never been in their shoes. Eager to relate to their stories and experience it for myself, I applied to numerous internships around the country and accepted an offer at a healthcare PR agency in New York City called Lazar Partners.
My first day, I learned the difference between “uptown” and “downtown” the hard way and made what should have been a thirty-minute commute an hour. I exited the shuttle and walked through Grand Central Station, where the office is located. I remember seeing hundreds of people around me walking every which way with their suits, high heels and briefcases and thinking, “I’m one of them now. I’m not a student sitting at my desk anymore. I’m in the thick of it.”
I met my team and was introduced to our 18 clients and their products and services, none of which I could pronounce the names of. Over the next week I jumped into media monitoring, searching terms I’d never heard of like “cryoablation” and “dyspareunia.” I compiled media coverage into reports and sent them off to members of the team. I was put in charge of creating monthly social media calendars, drafting text and creating visuals. I conducted research, some of which was incorporated into campaigns. I got to sit in on client calls and hear their feedback on projects I worked on.
It was overwhelming at first. I had to remind myself that I was there to learn and had a great supervisor who would give me quality feedback and direction. While I did feel that BYU prepared me with the hard skills needed to begin my internship, I had to learn a lot on my own. I learned how to develop the voice of multiple clients on their social media channels. I learned how to juggle different projects and how to work hard under pressure and firm deadlines. I learned how to communicate internally with team members and externally with clients, influencers and other outsourced teams. I learned how to break through writer’s block in creative ways. Lastly, I made friendships and connections that I will cherish forever and that I am sure my future professional self will benefit from.
When not working, I explored the city. I ate at famous restaurants, went on runs in Central Park, ate too much pizza, played frisbee with friends, saw the New York City Ballet, shopped more than I should have and sang along with my favorite Broadway musicals. All in all, I had the Manhattan summer I’d always dreamed of. I am so happy that instead of sitting comfortably in class, I decided to get out of my comfort zone and go out and live my own experience!
The publication of student articles allows the College of Fine Arts and Communications to highlight the experiential learning opportunities and behind-the-scenes experiences of students and faculty and tell stories with a unique voice and point of view. Submit your story at cfac.byu.edu.