Starting an Internship: What I Learned in a Long Job Hunt

Kohnstamm Communications Welcomes Eric Wheeler.
A fine welcome indeed. I had never seen my name on a sign before!

Tuesday, Feb. 21, marks the first day of my internship at Kohnstamm Communications in St. Paul, Minn. Yes, the long job search is finally over–at least for a few months.

I learned a lot during my 9+ month job search. I did the typical resume blast using job search sites such as CareerBuilder and Monster, I applied to jobs I found on LinkedIn and Twitter and I did my best to promote myself in the online world. In the end though, it came down to who I know.

Though I landed many phone calls and on-site interviews through the strategy mentioned above–even having employers reach out to me because of my blog or online presence–it was a former teacher who got me the initial contact.

It is definitely nice to know a former teacher believes in me and wants to see me succeed. I had Lisa Heinrich as a professor in both Advanced PR and Media Ethics at St. Cloud State University as I was working on my masters degree in PR & Advertising. One of my favorite professors for her ability to weave in her own professional experiences in lively class discussions, Lisa continued to stay in touch with me after graduation. She would occasionally send me job postings she thought might be a good fit.

My opportunity came when she informed me another former student of hers was looking to hire someone with a little social media experience. I sent an email to Katie Heinze at Kohnstamm that same day and a couple months later I was in St. Paul for an interview.

Though I was not particularly looking for an internship in my job search I felt this was an opportunity worth pursuing for a couple reasons. The position being full time and paid was definitely nice, but I also want to work at a PR agency and this should be a nice foot in the door. I currently do not have any public relations experience in an agency setting so this will hopefully open up new opportunities.

I knew as soon as I walked through the door at Kohnstamm that it was the right place for me. After being greeted by Gail at the front desk, my eyes were drawn to the large sign welcoming me to the “2010 Boutique Agency of the Year.” I had never really seen my name featured on a sign before so I snapped a picture and tweeted about it later that night.

It’s been nearly two weeks since I accepted the position. It may be surprising I haven’t been tweeting about it and posting the news on Facebook, but wanted to make sure my family knew about my new adventure and to make sure I found a place to live in St. Paul. I have made the appropriate phone calls and have found a nice house with a couple roommates (thank you CraigsList) in Midway just a 10-minute drive from the downtown office.

Thank you to everyone for the encouragement and for thinking of me when coming across opportunities. Please continue to keep me in your thoughts. My four to six-month internship will be over before I know it and I will continue to be on the lookout for my next opportunity.


9 thoughts on “Starting an Internship: What I Learned in a Long Job Hunt

  1. My first “real” job out of University was an internship with my local YMCA, and it was the best thing that could have happened to me! Like you, I had applied for a number of jobs and even had a couple of interviews that didn’t pan out. Looking back, I’m sure glad I was still looking for work when the opportunity popped up. I gained a lot of confidence by working at the Y and was able to discover my strengths and weaknesses as they apply to my profession, with the freedom to learn things that helped me develop my own personal skill set — like social media management, for example.

    Being an “intern” automatically gives you a little extra buffer room: you can ask more questions, make more mistakes, have crazier ideas and have it expected of you. By taking on interns, I think whoever is coordinating your position has already made the commitment to not only act as a boss, but a teacher as well.

    It sounds like Kohnstamm is going to be an amazing learning experience for you! Enjoy your time as an intern, I’m 100% sure it will help shape you into a killer PR pro in no time.



    1. Thank you taking the time to leave an encouraging comment, Tia. I skipped over a few internship opportunities during my job hunt, but I ultimately felt Kohnstamm would offer me a lot more than others I looked passed. I’ve already learned a lot in my first couple weeks and I’m sure I will learn plenty more along the way.

      Thanks again for your perspective and encouraging words!




  2. Congratulations, Eric! I understand the sweat and pain while job-hunting. I am glad you’ve finally got your foot into the door. All the best, and leave a mark!


    1. Thank you, Jason! And congratulations on your Addy! I read your post about it a while back and never had the chance to leave a reply. As always, thanks for reading! Best of luck to you and your future endeavors as well.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s