All About Internships: Duquesne PRSSA hosts guest speaker to provide advice to students seeking internships

Max Marcello | Staff Writer | Members of Public Student Society of America (PRSSA) smile with guest speaker, Maura Anderson, a marketing coordinator for Eat ‘N Park Hospitality Group.

Max Marcello | Staff Writer

Feb. 09, 2023

The ultimate goal of any college student is a successful career, and last Monday, one club on campus was helping students achieve that goal during their time in undergraduate studies.

Duquesne University’s chapter of the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) hosted guest speaker Maura Anderson on Monday.

Anderson, a marketing coordinator for Eat ‘N Park Hospitality Group, was invited to give PRSSA students advice on how they should approach internships, and she offered information about Eat ‘N Park’s summer internship program.

PRSSA is a national organization that gives undergraduate students experience in the field of public relations and opportunities to network in a professional environment, according to their website.

The organization is open to all students regardless of major, and Duquesne’s PRSSA members are from multiple majors from the liberal arts college. PRSSA’s emphasis on networking is what drew in Grace Heaton.

Heaton, a sophomore double majoring in marketing and modern languages, was first introduced to PRSSA by classmate Allison Huth, the previous president of the organization.

Heaton recalled what Huth told her about PRSSA that encouraged her to join.

“PRSSA hosted guest speakers, networking events in Pittsburgh, PRSSA professionals in the region, and host a conference as well,” she said.

Heaton felt intrigued about the organization and once she attended the first meeting she was hooked.

In addition to professional networking, PRSSA connects students to each other.

“We partner with Point Park every year to do a conference,” Heaton said.

Heaton, now president of Duquesne’s PRSSA chapter, discussed how the organization carries out its network building activities. The student society is linked to the national Public Relations Society of America.

“It’s a group of PR professionals who meet monthly, and they host happy hours where the organizational members are encouraged to go and network,” Heaton said.

Heaton attended a few of these networking sessions, and she found them useful as it taught her how to interact with professionals and navigate the professional environment, a skill many college students lack.

Anderson began her presentation by recalling her experience with PRSSA. She was a member herself as an undergraduate at Ohio University.

Being on both sides of the internship process has given Anderson a greater understanding and empathy with potential interns.

Anderson stressed the importance of internships and their ability to help students discover their interests in a professional environment.

Internships teach students skills such as time management and discipline in addition to providing students professional experience prior to graduation, she said in her presentation. Securing an internship can be an intimidating process especially for those unfamiliar with the process.

Anderson suggested students start building a portfolio of class assignments they were particularly proud of and to keep an open mind when considering where to apply.

Her next suggestion was regarding resumes. Anderson advised students to rephrase their work experience with specific action verbs and to use a single-sheet template rather than design one from scratch.

Moreover, students should update their resume every few months and tailor their application to use language that aligns with a company’s mission statement and job description.

She advised students to comb through their social media presence as the frequency of employers checking an applicant’s social media is increasing.

Exhibiting qualities both in person and online is very important Anderson said, “in terms of qualifications, it’s not so much even the hard skills as it is showing an eagerness to learn and an eagerness to be involved.”

She also encouraged students to get involved with student organizations related to their interests.

“I really personally like to see for upperclassmen, particularly, that they have become leaders in those organizations, kind of seeing how they’ve worked their way up through the ranks. That’s really big to me,” Anderson said.

Luke Szukalski, a junior public relations major, attended Monday’s interactive program. He found the discussion helpful in his own search for internships.

“I found her tips on the subtle things during interviews to be extremely helpful. Because even though your interview hasn’t begun, their impressions have,” Szukalski said.

Anderson concluded the conference by giving students information about Eat ‘N Park’s summer internship program, Team Smiley Internship and Team Smiley Freelance.

Eat N’ Park stresses positivity, charm, and enthusiasm when representing the franchise, Anderson said to students.

While both opportunities give students experience, Team Smiley Freelance focuses on public engagement and brand promotion. The intern program serves as a brand ambassador and interacts with guests in various community events.

For both internship and networking opportunities, PRSSA will continue to share updates during their upcoming meetings in College Hall at 7 p.m. on Thursdays.