Communications major builds skills, explores career options through internship

MEDIA, Pa. — For Penn State Brandywine communications major Sophie Keller, completing a summer internship at a Philadelphia public relations agency helped build her skill set and focus her career interests.

Sophie Keller

Communications major Sophie Keller completed a summer internship at Maven Communications — a Philadelphia-based public relations agency.

Credit: Maven Communications

Keller was a digital design intern for Maven Communications, which specializes in public relations, social media, content marketing and crisis communications. She worked with the firm’s digital account executive to create social media content, edit blog posts to enhance search engine optimization and search engine marketing, and source multimedia imagery such as photos, music and videos. She also created designs for the agency’s website, including blog post headers and in-text imaging, and edited videos.

“I declared my major shortly before starting this internship,” said Keller, now in her junior year. “Through my coursework and this internship, I know I want to work at a PR firm once I graduate, or I want to work with a publishing company. Either way, something with marketing and writing, something that combines those skills.”

During the internship, which Keller completed remotely, she significantly increased her knowledge of applications such as Adobe Illustrator and Adobe Photoshop. Another important skill she improved during the internship was time management.

“At the start of this internship, I was terrible at time management, but by the end of it, I think I really had a good sense of deadlines and prioritizing projects,” she said, “and that has already started to help me with my workload.”

Keller was also able to build on the writing and editing skills she developed last year as a writer for the campus newspaper, Lion’s Eye. This year she’s an editor for the publication.

“Each employee at Maven, including the CEOs, would write a blog post about crisis communications, content marketing, digital strategy, or another topic,” Keller said. “And then they would send them over to me and the graphic designer that I worked with and we would edit them so that they could be SEO-friendly and readability friendly, and then we posted them to the site.”

Keller said writing content for social media was one of the more challenging aspects of the experience because “you have to work within a character limit and it needs to be really engaging, really quickly.”

Veronica Mikitka Reed, Maven’s vice president and director of operations, and José Loya, digital account executive, both complimented Keller’s skills, work ethic and willingness to learn and contribute.

“It's always great to have an intern who is excited to learn, and that was Sophie,” Reed said. “And virtually — which is, as we all know, something that everyone's adjusting to whether as an intern or as a professional. She did an amazing job, and I know a lot of the team members were very impressed.”

“She attended a couple of our leadership meetings for our agency, where we discussed search engine optimization and search engine marketing, which she worked on with José,” Reed added. “Her being in that meeting and talking to the two owners and outlining some of the things that she put in that presentation were impressive to us.”

“What I like is that she hit the ground running, and a lot of it has to do with what she is learning in her classes,” Loya said. “And a lot of it has to do with her writing and challenging her to think about the way that she's writing — this is a blog post, this is a release, this is social media — and understanding the different voices.”

Keller encourages all students to consider an internship, regardless of major, and she is going to continue as an intern at Maven for the fall semester.

“Even if [students] have all the background, and they feel like they know what they're doing and they're going to get a job right out of college, the internship provides a lot of business experience right there, hands on,” she said. “It really prepares you for what your career is going to be like.”