Heathcare PR the “Ticket” for Young COMM Major

Madeline Brooks, ’15

Madeline is Astra Zeneca's superstar intern!

Madeline is Astra Zeneca’s        superstar intern!

Early last December, in the midst of finals panic, I received an email from my Intro to Public Relations professor, Professor Bartoo. She recommended that I and a handful of her other students apply for an internship with the AstraZeneca HealthCare Foundation, a nonprofit foundation that promotes public awareness of healthcare issues. It was my dream internship to do communications work for a health-related organization. The position, however, was competitive, and looked for an upperclassman student to apply. I assumed I had little chance of getting it. But, after I submitted my resume, I nearly fell out my chair when I received a call from the Foundation to answer a few preliminary questions. The Foundation asked me to come in for an interview, and to my excitement, they hired me that week.

My internship with the AstraZeneca HealthCare Foundation teaches me countless new skills, as well as keeps me on my toes. In January and February, I organized schedules for our grant announcement events and coordinated travel logistics. In March, I learned about measuring media hits and saw the process of creating an annual report. Now, I am receiving a crash course in media pitching, as I create charts of media market outlets and compile patient stories to use in pitching article ideas.

My internship has given me invaluable insight into the inner workings of communications for a nonprofit organization. I’ve seen the behind-the-scenes effort that goes into simple briefing documents or detailed communication strategies. We hold ourselves to high standards in our communications, because every project we work on contributes to the “big picture” for the Foundation. So much of our growth is based on communicating the results of the Foundation’s good work, and I am proud to help with this.

When I reflect on the freshman who didn’t even know how Twitter worked, to the sophomore with an internship and career goals, this progression is thanks to PRSSA and the UD Communication Department. Until I applied for the internship, I took for granted the public relations and job-searching skills I learned through PRSSA. At our meetings and skill slams I learned how to use hashtags, craft the perfect resume, and even write a professional thank-you note. My Intro to Public Relations class taught me that textbook knowledge means nothing without a savvy understanding of “real-world” PR. I would not have an internship if it were not for the experience I received through PRSSA and the guidance of my COMM professors.

One of the best parts of PRSSA is the face-to-face networking. I’ve always been shy, though not as much as prior to PRSSA. I still remember how incredulous I felt that members of the PRSSA executive board talked to me, a freshman, and remembered not only my name, but my career aspirations. It feels great to be part of an organization that actively cheers you on in your professional development. Because of my interactions with other members, I didn’t feel nervous when it came to interviewing with the Executive Director of the Foundation or discussing ideas with my experienced coworkers. PRSSA gave me confidence as a professional and as an individual.

I’m looking forward to spending the summer and beyond with the AstraZeneca HealthCare Foundation. The UD Communication Department and PRSSA will continue to help me take advantage of everything I learn during my internship, and through the next chapter of my career.

Disclosure: I am a contractor working for the AstraZeneca HealthCare Foundation.  This blog post and the opinions in it do not reflect those of my employer’s and are not made as any endorsement in my capacity as a contractor for the AstraZeneca HealthCare Foundation.