PR Buzz: Advice from a Zapwater Intern


When most people here the word “intern”, they think of the coffee-running, copy-making, phone-answering, college gal or guy. However, when I think of the word intern, I think of an individual who is fast-paced, responsible, organized, creative, energetic and driven.

So far, my time interning at Zapwater has not only taught me valuable skills that I can carry with me when I graduate from college and enter the workforce, but has also confirmed my passion for the Public Relations field.

My day-to-day life can seem pretty hectic to most people. I not only intern at Zapwater three days a week, but am also the Vice President of Valpo’s PRSSA chapter, the Opinions Editor at my school’s weekly newspaper, and have a full-load class schedule. (I attend Valparaiso University, in quaint Valparaiso, Ind., where I am a junior studying PR and creative writing).

While yes, I maintain my composure with a lot of coffee, (Venti Americano with soy, please) but I also have a strategic method to my madness, that keeps me organized and on top of tasks when I am at Zapwater.

For starters, I write nearly every part of my life down. (Including workouts and dinner dates.) I owe this part of my organization to my Lilly Pulitzer agenda. While any planner is key to have when you are an intern, I just love the design and the layout of the Lilly agendas. The pages in the large planner are just enough to write down assignments for class and dates/times of events I am working with the Zapwater team.

Secondly, I travel three days a week from Indiana by the South Shore train, and take the CTA over to Zapwater’s office, which is located in West Loop and then do it all again after the work day. (Total commute time = 3 1/2 hours a day) I use this time on the train to research client happenings, any local or national press they received, read my favorite blog (Man Repeller has my heart) and also to catch up on community and national news. (Very important in PR!) This way, when I get into the office, I am mentally prepared for the work that is given to me. On a daily basis, I do media clippings, complete media trackers, write/send pitches, and help the rest of the team with whatever assignment they need me to do. Zapwater provides me with very hands-on experience, which I have also been able to demonstrate to my PRSSA chapter at Valpo. Every time I learn how to do something new, I make a note of it on my notepad as well as my iPhone.

Staying organized and on top of tasks at Zapwater is very important. I prefer to write everything by hand and highlight the tasks in yellow that I’ve completed. (Hint, find out exactly when a project is due; that was you can prioritize your time best) Papersource is one of my favorite places to get notebooks, notepads, and other organizers; you can even get your notepads personalized! I love this vintage, “Hello Sunshine” pattern.

As an intern, you have to be readily available to give your time to helping the company. I have loved every minute of interning at Zapwater; getting the hands-on experience I was seeking, as well as being able to work some pretty cool events (TheTieBar with Jesse Tyler Ferguson and The Gold Coast Fashion Awards Show to name a few..) Staying organized and on top of everything, even if you have a busy schedule (like mine), is easy when you are able prioritize and stay on top of tasks. PR can be a hectic field, and I feel like I am more than prepared to enter the PR workforce after graduation thanks to my time at Zapwater.

- Emily Doherty, Intern