Packing the bags and moving to New York was a big decision, both professionally and personally. Coming from Chicago where there are so many great opportunities in public relations, deciding whether or not to go to New York for the summer was difficult. Ultimately, the corporate opportunity available in the Big Apple proved to be the most valuable at the time, and I of course have no regrets.
I spent this summer at the Estée Lauder Companies in their corporate internship program. Estée Lauder is a $10 billion global company with over 25 beauty brands. I was placed in Global Communications at Bobbi Brown Cosmetics. My team handles PR for Bobbi Brown, the makeup artist and the brand, which Bobbi founded more than 20 years ago.
While this obviously has been an incredible opportunity, the decision to live in New York for three months did not come easy. Here are few things I learned over the past couple months that I would like to share for those considering an internship in another city:
- Explore. Spending a whole summer in the city gave me the opportunity to understand a little bit about being a true a New Yorker. The city is full of fun things to do, great food and nice people. And yes, I stood in line for three hours for a Cronut.
- Make friends. Thankfully, I was one of dozens of interns in the program. I was able to quickly make friends from across the country. These were not only a group of people to explore the city with (Happy Hour in New York is surprisingly affordable), but the beginning of long standing relationships.
- Network. By spending time in a different city, all at once you are surrounded by an entirely new group of professionals. Through some existing connections, I was able to arrange agency visits and meet with several PR professionals based in New York. I also got the opportunity to meet several leaders within the Estée Lauder Companies including Executive Chairman William Lauder, Chairman Emeritus Leonard Lauder, and CEO Fabrizio Freda.
- Ask questions. This is a given in any internship experience. I was fortunate to have a fantastic supervisor and mentor, Alexis Rodriguez. Alexis is the Executive Director of PR for the Bobbi Brown by day and a blogger by night. Her blog, thePRcloset.com, is an incredible resource for those interested in beauty or fashion PR. I worked day-to-day with Katie Brennan and Kelly Grgich. They both made me feel like I was truly part of the team, and I learned so much. I asked as many questions as possible, and they always had thoughtful responses. Good questions are noticed. One question I asked the top communications executive at Lauder resulted in a one-on-one meeting to discuss further opportunities with the company. The question—what are the opportunities like for men in beauty PR? As it turns out, one of her goals is to add more men to her team.
- Make decisions. Taking an internship in another city is the perfect opportunity to decide what the first step in your career may be. You never know until you try. For example, I really have loved New York and the Estée Lauder Companies, but for now I am looking forward to returning to Chicago to start my career.
Camden Robertson, an Indiana native, is a senior at DePaul University where he is double majoring in public relations & advertising and political science. He graduates in December 2013 and hopes to land an agency position.