Written by Ruth Aitken (Class of 2017, Tulane University)
In the first few months of 2016, I was studying abroad in Madrid but already missing my home metropolis of Washington, D.C. In my daydreams, I played a starring role as Vivacious Young Professional with Amazing Internship in the setting of Best City in America (I’m biased). I had the scene scripted, and I knew I was in deep when I found myself buying button-down shirts for fun. My remaining task was to find the internship that would satisfy my professional ambitions— but more importantly, the internship that would preserve my current spirit of enthusiasm all the way through summer. I’d previously managed a pool; if I was going to forfeit the chance to get a tan on the job, I needed an internship that would keep me excited to wake up and hop on the Red Line.
Spoiler alert! I found my perfect fit in KRC. The prospect of becoming a KRC intern all but erased my interest in the lead lists of other internships I’d found. Current employee and former intern Dylan’s blog post* stoked my excitement, but then I got to speak to the man himself. When I interviewed with KRC, I asked a lot of questions which, after several months with KRC, I am prepared to answer myself.
*Here I would like to say that Dylan’s passage about the office doesn’t do it justice. All love to you, Dylan, but you totally forgot about the gorgeous rooftop, the gym, and also the Frosted Flakes dispensers. Can’t forget the Frosted Flakes dispensers.
Is there any intern training?
The onboarding process at KRC is extremely thorough; for nearly the entirety of the first week, the other interns and I attended training sessions. The scope of the trainings left us little room for uncertainty or doubt, and we all felt confident launching into project work. Opportunity for skill development and continued education abounds at KRC, and every other staffer is eager to answer questions wherever and whenever questions arise.
What will a typical workday be like?
Although intern responsibilities can vary from team to team within KRC, all interns do a fair amount of proofing. However, diversity of project work abounds. When I initially asked this question to my interviewers, I heard that the project work varies such that no two days are the same, and I would agree. Over the course of the summer, I have: designed Powerpoint decks, written memos, done lead listing, sat in on client calls with my manager, analyzed social media data, populated deliverables with research findings, developed keywords for social media coding, and refilled exactly zero cups of coffee for my superiors. There is no filing, no moving boxes around, no “intern tasks” at KRC.
I keep hearing about these teams X, Y, and Z— what are they?
KRC employees in the DC office belong to one of three teams, the distinctions between which are not very apparent. It seemed to me in my time here that the team system exists primarily for workflow organization and management structure. Because different teams oversee different accounts, sometimes a de facto distinction arises. For example, this summer as a Team Z intern I would say that I saw more secondary research and data analytics than some of the other interns. Fellow intern Zoe did a fantastic job managing the KRC social media, which is historically a Team Y charge. The similarities between teams outweigh the differences.
What makes an intern successful at KRC?
Successful KRC interns are intellectually curious above all. Beyond that, conscientiousness and a strong work ethic will take an intern far. The prevailing attitude toward communication at KRC is a preference for over communication— I would routinely send my manager quick email updates of my progress on a given assignment.
Zoe wrote a Buzzfeed article full of pointers about how to get the most out of a summer internship. I would particularly echo her point about telling coworkers what you want. The key to maximizing the KRC experience is to articulate what it is that you’d like to work on. If you want to see a focus group, work on a certain account or fire off a few tweets— say no more, because management wants to make sure that interns get their hands on the projects that interest them most.
Are there opportunities for feedback?
At every turn. I felt totally comfortable seeking feedback whenever I wanted it. Doors were always open to me, and I knew that I could pop in with my manager or other coworkers if I wanted to know how I was doing. Plus, practice intern memos provided an outstanding feedback opportunity—but I’ll get to that later.
So, what’s up with WIN WEEK?
Our DC office at 733 10th Street is also home to PR firm and sister agency Powell Tate. The most interdisciplinary element of the KRC-DC intern experience is the chance to collaborate in teams with Powell Tate interns to respond to a new business RFP (request for proposal). Competing teams develop research-backed public relations campaigns, and in ten days’ time they present pitches before a panel that includes Presidents and SVPs. The Win Week experience uniquely affords interns the opportunity to simulate the new business pitch process, and at the end of the whole shebang there just might be a happy hour waiting.
What is your favorite part about working at KRC?
I recall several of my interviewers saying that their favorite part about KRC is the people. I agree—the people that I’ve met here are very inviting, intelligent people who I know expect the most of me. And if you ask me, that’s the best thing about working at KRC: the overwhelming sense that everyone around me is truly invested in my personal and professional growth. Built into the internship are three practice memo-writing exercises that require interns to synthesize research data and present it in a deliverable form. Managers then take their time to review these memos and conduct personalized feedback sessions with each intern. My manager (shoutout to you, John) cared about seeing my skills develop from the first memo practice to the last and always gave me thoughtful feedback. Although as interns we exist to serve KRC, my fellow interns and I were routinely asked for feedback on how KRC can better serve us over the course of the summer.
During my exit interview, I was hard pressed to develop an answer regarding “the worst part of my internship.” I couldn’t think of any negatives. Needless to say, I would absolutely recommend applying to this internship. And since you’ve stumbled across this article, I have a sneaking suspicion that you may be on that path already. Smart choice.
Good luck and happy applications!