Three Ways My Internship and My Summer Job Weren't So Different

As summer draws to a close and I prepare to head back to college, things are finally slowing down. For the past few months, I've not only been working as a higher education PR intern, but also as a cashier at my local grocery store. In my third year at the grocery store and my third month at Dick Jones Communications, I've learned that the two jobs are not so different in the grand scheme of things.

There's a lot that goes on that clients/customers don't see

The prep work that goes into closing a grocery stores sometimes seems endless; from polishing the chrome registers, to mopping the lanes and aisles throughout the store, customers don't realize that as cashiers we have more responsibility than just handling money. The same goes for work in PR; a pitch to a news outlet can sometimes take up to a few weeks when interviewing the client, drafting a pitch, and forming media lists. There's a lot of behind the scenes work that contributes to landing a story on the front page of a newspaper.

Both jobs have waves of fast-paced work

The worst time to shop at a grocery store is right at 5 o'clock, when everyone is getting out of work. Cashiers and baggers work faster at this time under pressure from the long lines of customers waiting to leave with their groceries. In PR, there's often short deadlines that have to be met sometimes within the same day. I recently had to develop a media list in a brief timeframe, and there was almost a sort of euphoric high out of working quickly and knowing that it had to be done immediately. While there are lulls at times with both jobs, the fast-paced work makes the job worthwhile.

Be prepared for anything

There was a time when a co-worker of mine had to call the police because two men were fighting in the grocery store parking lot. While work in PR may not be as dramatic as that situation, as PR professionals we have to be prepared to confront the unpredictable. News outlets release information at all hours of the day, especially if it's breaking. The future is unforeseeable and the job for journalists and PR personnel never sleeps; staying up to date on the latest news is not only beneficial but necessary as well.

Although similar in a sense, working at a grocery store did not prepare me for working in public relations at all. The variety and unpredictable nature of this job was what made me love coming to work every day for the past few months. And of course, forming media lists or writing pitches will always be way more exciting than bagging potato chips.