My Internship Experience – Heidi Cavaliere
The Focus Group has been so much more than just an internship to me. I have grown as a Public Relations professional and an individual and I feel more confident than ever that Marketing and Communications is my calling. Because of the Focus Group, and particularly my internship director, Thomas Broadus, I am leaving this internship more skilled, well rounded in my profession, and excited to go into the work force.
My story with The Focus Group begins in a social media class taught by Dr. David Davies at The University of Southern Mississippi. Upon graduation, Dr. Davies informed me of a summer internship at The Focus Group. He encouraged me to apply for about two weeks, especially since one of his favorite students (Thomas) worked there. Truthfully, I was dealing with finals and graduation, and I put this opportunity on the back burner. Dr. Davies showed us a Youtube video of Thomas’s story in class. He talked about his career journey and then specifically what he does everyday. My attention was grabbed immediately.
I left for Australia five days following graduation for a Business and Entrepreneurship Conference with the International Scholar Laureate Program. The amount of stress and anxiety from trying to pass my finals, (I mean acing, right mom?) graduating, and leaving the country became priority. I left the country thinking that I was too late and the internship was most likely no longer available.
How I prepared for Australian Culture, Listening to Men at Work
Fast-forward three weeks. I return back to the U.S. fueled by my experiences and ready to get my career started. I sent my resume and social media portfolio to Thomas just in case they were still taking a Social and Digital intern. To my surprise, they wanted me to interview. I interviewed with Thomas on the phone at 9 am. The interview lasted 12 minutes and I was so nervous I don’t remember much of what I said. I hung up and thought, “Well, I tried.” That very day Thomas called to offer me the internship. I was so excited and shocked. I started the next week.
While with The Focus Group I had several responsibilities and experiences including managing the Mississippi Gulf Seafood Trail’s Facebook advertisements, which included creating content for 66 restaurants. I also learned how to create and manage Facebook advertisements through the Facebook Business Manager and how to target particular audiences, look at the results and analyze those results. It was very interesting and quite fun!
I became so enthused and interested in Google Analytics, I have begun getting Google Analytics Certified. Google tells you who looks at your website, how they got there, why they got there and how to keep them coming. I decided after nerding out with Thomas several times, I had to dig deeper.
Another experience I learned a great deal from was working on a project for the City of Gulfport, particularly when I collected data for Gulfport’s Wikipedia page. This was tedious, but it was also very informative. Gulfport is a city full of rich history and a great deal to offer to our State and this was a fantastic opportunity and an honor to say I was able to be a part of sharing Gulfport’s story to it’s highest potential.
My last and favorite project with #TeamFocus was the Instagram Take Over project. I created a script for associates in the office to take over The Focus Group’s Instagram story. I met with the Creative Team to brainstorm ideas, and then I was responsible for creating the official script. Brittany, the Account Coordinator, was the first to try the Instagram takeover, and it was a major success. We had lots of engagement, received more followers and it reminded Brittany how valuable she is to the team. Brittany said she hopes everyone in the office participates in our Instagram Stories because it’s a great time to evaluate yourself and see your value.
I was fortunate enough to sit in on some great meetings with businesses such as White Pillars, HCUA, and the Gulfport-Biloxi International Airport (#FLYGPT). I learned a lot about how to present yourself and your ideas in front of clients, how to engage with clients to meet their needs, and how to make meetings efficient and effective.
I would recommend applying for this internship at The Focus Group because it is so much more than just a job. It’s a preparation for your future. The Focus Group is a talented group of people who work like a team. Every role is valuable and important, and every single day their team taught me something new.
I’m thankful that Thomas invested time to have conversations with me about my future and my plan. When asked what my plan was, I said, “ I don’t know.” I truly had no idea what I wanted. All of the options seemed blurry and confusing. Thomas took time to teach and mentor and I never felt like I was taking too much of his time (even though I’m sure I did with the amount of questions I asked). He helped me choose a path, rather than let me stand at the crossroads without a clue of what to do. I know that I’m leaving The Focus Group better than when I started.