Seizing the Moment: An Intern’s Perspective
When Thomas Marshall accepted a social media internship with the Columbia Police Department, he expected a summer of captions, hashtags and retweets. Instead, he found himself the designated “catch-all person for communications.” This meant writing press releases, creating graphic designs, working directly with city and police communications officers, organizing fundraising events and, yes, still managing social media.
Like many English majors, Marshall found the internship search to be a struggle. Few companies in Marshall’s hometown of Columbia, South Carolina asked for English majors specifically. And even when applying to positions aimed at Communications or Journalism majors, Marshall knew his English degree would be treated like a giant question mark. Marshall applied to several internships for the summer of 2017 before finding his match in the Columbia Police Department.
The experience was a transformative one. In part, this was because of the real-world skills Marshall developed on the job, such as managing deadlines, speaking up in staff meetings and collaborating with others. Marshall’s internship also unlocked a passion for public relations.
“I had no idea what PR was,” Marshall said. “I never thought I’d like it.”
Now, Marshall is the communications director of a student government campaign here at Clemson, and he’s considering career paths that will allow him to work in public relations and help strengthen community bonds.
Since his summer with the Columbia Police Department, Marshall has added two more internship experiences to his résumé, both of which can be found on Clemson’s campus. The first was a semester with the Pearce Center for Professional Communication, where Marshall worked with a social media team to promote the Center and its many projects. The second is Marshall’s current position with PAW Journey. PAW Journey, which stands for Passionate About Winning, is a personal development program for Clemson football players.
“Everyone else is focused on football,” Marshall said, “but we’re focused on the player as a person. It’s about building better men.”
Though his time with PAW Journey has only just begun, Marshall feels that his role will once again be that of a catch-all communications intern, which he is more than OK with.
According to Marshall, life as the “go-to communications guy” would be nearly impossible without the skills he learned in the classroom. Through his Writing and Publication Studies emphasis area, Marshall has taken visual communications courses for programs like Premiere and InDesign. Marshall also believes that the value of literature classes should not be overlooked.
“As English majors, we learn how to really convey a message,” Marshall said.
As far as the direction of his professional life is concerned, Marshall sees nothing but possibilities.
“There are so many routes I could take, and it’s because I’m an English major that I have so many choices,” Marshall said.
Marshall might not know where life after Clemson will lead him, but he’s confident that his English major—and his many English internships—will help take him there.
Written By: Hannah Pearson