This is a transcript of the podcast. Some changes may be made for grammatical errors or clarity.
Hi everyone, this is Emily, the host of A Sit Down Scholars, this is a podcast, where we hear straight from present or previous interns. These interns, sit down with me to share what skills it takes to be an intern and what benefits they gained in their internship experiences. This is the third episode for this episode, I spoke with Kenzie Syiem. As Kenzie will go over, she’s an English and Spanish major. She speaks about the four different positions that she’s held in high school or college, but two of those being social media internships.
Emily: Go through the basics about yourself. How old are you, where’s your hometown, where you are currently, where you’re going to school, and what year in school are you?
Kenzie: Yeah, so name, Kenzie. I am 20 years old, about to turn 21 in a few weeks, that is crazy. I am from I grew up in northeast India, which is where I am currently for the summer, even though it’s a little bit chaotic here at home. But normally I am in the US for class, I go to a liberal arts college called Wofford College, which is Spartanburg, South Carolina. I just finished up my sophomore year so I’m technically a junior which is also insane.
Emily: It definitely flies by quicker than you’d like it to. So, what’s your major.
Kenzie: I ended up doing a double major in English and Spanish with a concentration in film and digital media. That’s such a mouthful.
Emily: And where do you ideally see yourself in five years?
Kenzie: In five years, hopefully, I have a job that I love that makes it not feel like work that must be traveled because I love traveling and I definitely want that to be a part of whatever career I get into, and hopefully they’ll be somewhere in the car, marketing world.
Emily: Yeah. Okay, can you just share your internship experiences with you that you’ve had so far? Go through where you’ve been an intern at.
Kenzie: Yeah, so it’s really interesting because I grew up in India. So, part-time jobs and internships are not the same here. Like it’s just not something that people do. So I remember growing up and always thinking, I really want a job. It was just like a thing whether you’re watching American movies or you have a part-time job and I’d be like, I want that. As soon as I got to college in the US, the first thing I did was look for a job just because I’ve always wanted a job. So, my first ever internship actually was senior high school. I went to the US to finish high school. So, sophomore year and up. And then at my high school required all seniors to do a two-week internship before we graduated.
Kenzie: It was a program called mini-mester, a lot of colleges, my college including, have programs like it. It’s interim or maymester. It is one month in between your semesters, and you just intern or do something like that. I interned at a college in Spartanburg, which is weirdly also where I’m going to college now. But I interned for a marketing department at a college, Spartanburg Methodist College. So that was my first summer intern experience. I have a couple of high schoolers, who had never taken a marketing class. I was interning with the marketing department, and something I really enjoyed about it was that I wasn’t getting people coffee. They made me do projects and looking back I’m like wow, you trusted a high school senior to do a website audit and a social media audit, and all this is done the first internship experience. Then in college, I’ve either worked part-time or done other internships roles throughout the semester. The past year, my sophomore year, I was interning at three different jobs.
Emily: That’s a lot, good job. What was the process like for getting each of those internships? I know you spoke on being required to in high school. In college, Where did you go to find those internships?
Kenzie: The first one, I got through daily announcements at college. And so our Career Center or any other departments put out a hiring announcement or an ad. Like, send in your resume. Then my college uses a program called Handshake, which a lot of colleges use to post jobs. Yeah, and so the first-ever like official job/internship was called “Wofford on-call” and it’s with the advancement department, and we call that alums, you know, ask for donations.
Kenzie: So that was how I got my first internship, through an ad. Then honestly after that, it was interesting because it was kind of more connection-based, it was like I had close relationships with professors and with my college’s admissions office. And, so I knew they were hiring a summer intern. And when the admissions counselors were telling me, I should really think about applying. And so that’s how I got my summer internship. Last summer, I interned with my admissions department so that was giving tours, and you know helping high school seniors through the admission process doing all this sort of other stuff.
Kenzie: Yeah, same with the Career Center job. I met a girl who was a senior last year, and she was leaving, and she was like, “oh yeah I run like, our Career Centers marketing and social media but I was a kid and your senior aren’t you leaving? Is your job open next year?”
Kenzie: So I talked to your boss and she talked to her boss and that’s how. So, the first time was definitely at me like, trying to find something, but everything after that has been pretty much like connections or just word of mouth.
Emily: Yeah, no, I mean, that definitely shows the importance of networking. And I think once you get that first job, it just makes it so much easier to get those connections. What type of skills did you gain for these internships? If you want to go specific into one internship, or just in general.
Kenzie: Yeah, I mean, I think, overall, with internships, there are some general things you learned no matter what your internships are. Those are what we call soft skills, so it’s communication, how to deal with conflict, and stuff like that.
Kenzie: So I think across the board, I learned that with all of my internships. But more specifically, the hard skills that I learned, I’ll go into a job or internship I currently have right now. With my college career center, I’m their social media and marketing intern. It’s been interesting because in my own life, honestly, I love using social media. But using social media, not as myself and as a business that was really interesting. It’s like you know getting the hang of Canva, which I think Canva is like a Godsend for every business out there. Learning inner communications, but also how to speak in a department and in a job communication going for that everyone’s schedule is, like, everything is going out on time and things like that.
Kenzie: But I think that has been like a really great thing that I’ve learned to do this current internship, And also, again, how to deal with conflict. I think that’s something that’s not taught in the classroom, whereas everything else depending on what course you’re taking you do learn how to write you learn how to communicate, but learning how to work through a mistake that you’ve made, is definitely something you learn on the job.
Emily: Definitely, definitely. That is not something you can teach the classroom but very important and I think that’s a really big importance of internships is learning how to fix those mistakes and that conflict. Early on, and not at your full-time job. Okay so now I’m going to get into more of like some big general questions about you getting to know like you personally. So what are you passionate about and what’s important to you?
Kenzie: And like, this is such a hard question, in the sense that I think it’s so easy, and this is like the great part. I feel about our generation, and having access to so much kind of media consumption from across the world is that it’s so easy now to spread awareness about an issue and then get a lot of people fired up and passionate about it. I’m definitely one of those people that I see something and it moves me and I just have to help in any way I can.
Kenzie: But definitely one of the biggest things I’m passionate about is menstrual equity. It’s something that affects mentors and women across the globe, but it’s also something that is relatively not talked about which is so interesting, and people. I think generally think it’s a quote-unquote, third-world issue, when in fact there is a huge percentage of homeless people in the US who don’t have access to menstrual products. So I’m very passionate about about about ending menstrual equity and kind of just ending the stigma about talking about your periods, and just anything that’s related to health because it’s so natural and yet we treat it as if it’s some, I don’t know like some shady thing that we have talked about.
Emily: Definitely, yeah, I agreed and definitely can tell through social media, that you’re very passionate about that and, are you aware of this. So how would you say people would usually describe you?
Kenzie: I think people tend to describe me as very extroverted, I think it’s the first thing anyone says about me but extroverted sensing, I will tell them. But yeah, definitely like extroverted and friendly and loud.
Emily: What interpersonal skills, personality traits, and characteristics are required to thrive in your current job?
Kenzie: I definitely think something that is often overlooked when it comes to interpersonal skills, is the ability to listen. And I think whenever we talk about communication, we talk so much about being able to get your point across, and being assertive. Women in the career field right now, we don’t want to be overlooked. We want to be heard and find what we think is right. But a big part of communicating effectively is knowing when it’s not your turn to speak and when it’s time to listen. And so I think that is a very important skill. And I also think the ability to change. Even though I just talked about being firm and kind of not budging but it’s also knowing when you need to pivot. I’ve also been watching Friends recently. And knowing when it’s time to let others help you.
Emily: Definitely. I think that’s really important. What do you love about your role the most?
Kenzie: Oh, okay. Oh, I love being able to see the behind-the-scenes of a department or a company, and I love being able to talk to the people there and get to kind of the root of what this department or company is trying to do. Then, having it be my job to communicate that to like the general public, or like the people who aren’t in the department of community. I love the ability to frame that narrative, and to make sure that people know what something is all about and how they can you know use whatever the company is offering like I love being the go between, between like the internal work, and the external audience.
Emily: For your job, what do you need in terms of resources structure and be set up for success?
Kenzie: Okay so for my social media marketing internship, number one, you need an effective form of communication, whether it’s like you’ve all decided email works best for everyone or Slack or something. I think that’s like the number one thing you need to understand and get a grip of, like, super quick. I think any social media person needed Canva. Canva is amazing, and it will just do so much whether you’re making a social media graphic, or you’re making a presentation, it’s just such a good way to look put together.
Kenzie: Okay, this one is really nice, but a branding packet. Like number one thing, I do when people or companies, organizations whatever tell me to take a look at their social media. The first thing I do, I’m like, “do you have a set of colors that people can identify as you? Do you have a set font?”
Kenzie: I think it’s so fun putting that together and then making sure they stick to it.
Emily: Yeah, definitely, I would 100% especially as I’m like doing social media for Scholars is having those colors sound simple. Is there anything that I haven’t asked about that you’d like to talk about?
Kenzie: Oh goodness, I think, If there’s one thing I could say is that, essentially, college students take every opportunity to get in, be brave and sometimes I know it can be scary because you’re either worrying, oh I’ve never worked before, or you’re worrying how am I going to handle classes and work. But I think you’re in such a unique position in college where you have this opportunity to intern, and gain experience but you also have a lot of freedom to make mistakes, and still get corrected in a way. That is beneficial and won’t like hinder you, and so I think that matters, kind of what fears, college students are having. I think they really do just need to kind of take a deep breath and then take the leap and go for it because the only way or I guess the best way to learn is through experience and so making mistakes is part of it. And that shouldn’t hold anyone back.
Emily: I was really excited that I had the chance to speak to Kenzie. She has a positive mindset, great internship experience, and fantastic networking skills. If you have previous internship experience and want to be a guest on this podcast, email me at [email protected].