The Project Manager Internship: A Firsthand Account

Posted: August 12, 2015

Tara Clinton Strategic Partnerships Manager

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VisionPoint is proud of the Internship Program we’ve developed. We view our interns as valuable members of our team and are happy to help them build their portfolios and launch their careers.

As the summer comes to an end and our interns get ready to head back to school, we asked each of them to tell us about what they have accomplished and their experience here. In this blog post, our Summer 2015 interns – Cassie Marcantonio, Emily Berg and Maria Potepalova — take you inside their experiences at VisionPoint.

VisionPoint Newbies

Our first days as part of the VisionPoint team.

Cassie: On my way to my first day at VisionPoint, I had the normal new-job-jitters. I was nervous, I didn’t know what to expect, and I forgot my lunch. However, my day soon turned around. I quickly got to know many of the people in the office through one-on-one meetings and the frequent joking that is woven through every VisionPoint day. All of my coworkers were friendly and available to help me dive right into my work. And, as for forgetting my lunch, Tony offered to pick up Chick-fil-A for me!

Emily: VisionPoint’s one-on-one tradition was by far the best part of my first few days in the office. The opportunity to sit down with every member of the team and hear about their roles helped me understand all the different things I could be a part of at VisionPoint. Additionally, after talking with everyone about their lives outside the office – their families, their pets, their hobbies – and sharing about my own interests, I felt like I had been part of the VisionPoint team for a lot longer than just a few days.

Maria: My first week at VisionPoint was so full of events that I didn’t have any time to get nervous about adjusting to a new place. I was able to meet almost all of the team during our one-on-one meetings (one of my favorite traditions here), start working on website quality assurance, participate in a wedding shower and even attend my first baseball game! Although the game was stopped because of a thunderstorm and I walked to the car barefoot in the rain, it was one of the most unforgettable moments during my internship.

The Big One

A big project that taught us a lot and defined our internship.

Cassie: My favorite project was working on creating a media plan for a client. I was able to brainstorm about possible advertising channels, assess the quality and performance of different options, help make budgetary choices, and quantify our results to present to the client. This project gave me an opportunity to be creative and think strategically. It was exciting to search for the best way to achieve our client’s goal. Also, through working on this project, I was introduced to my new obsessions: Google AdWords and Google Analytics. I now find myself watching AdWords and Analytics videos in my free time!

Emily: During my time at VisionPoint, I have uncovered a passion for user experience. My involvement in information architecture for several VisionPoint clients has allowed me to explore questions like how can we organize a website and structure the hierarchy of its content to help users find information easily and intuitively. I have become deeply involved in creating sitemaps and wireframes, and it has been extremely interesting to hear client feedback and watch users actually navigate through newly-designed sites during user testing.

Maria: I was honored to give a 45-minute presentation to the VisionPoint team as part of the Lunch & Learn tradition. Building on my research at NC State, I spoke about ways to increase university alumni association membership. From choosing my topic to actually giving the presentation, everyone in the office was extremely supportive, and I left the office so inspired that day!

A Challenge

We got stuck. And we prevailed!

Cassie: In the early days of my internship, I was asked to use a scope of work to write the agenda for the project’s kick-off call. I wasn’t sure what either of these documents were, let alone how to sift through the scope to produce an agenda that would be useful and comprehensive for the client. I began reading existing scopes and agendas to figure out which information to include and how to format the document. After closely examining lots of examples, I was able to create an agenda that communicated the phases of the project to the client in a clear and concise way. Even more importantly, this challenge and the steps I took to overcome it helped me become familiar with the entire VisionPoint process.

Emily: In the first few days of my internship, I was thrown into the creation of a media plan for one of VisionPoint’s clients. With little experience in media planning and our deadline quickly approaching, I had to learn a lot in a short time. I took every possible opportunity to observe the integrated marketing team at work, and I stepped outside my comfort zone almost daily to put my learning into action. In a few short weeks, I felt confident communicating with vendors, deciding how to allocate our budget, and writing channel briefs. When we submitted that media plan, I felt incredibly proud of everything we had accomplished and everything I had learned.

Maria: In the beginning of my internship I was assigned to schedule production of the VisionPoint newsletter for 2015 and 2016. When I got an email with several complex spreadsheets attached, I was really confused how those documents could be possibly connected. It took me a while to understand the whole process of the production phase, the responsible parties, the deadlines and all other details. I asked questions a lot.  It took me about 2 hours to schedule the first month but now I can do the same in less than 30 minutes!

New Knowledge

Our newly-acquired arsenal of skills.

Cassie: Some of the processes and skills I learned at VisionPoint were things I had never heard of before. If someone asked me before my internship what “Information Architecture” was, I would have guessed it was a book about sketching buildings. However, now I know how to create a website strategy and craft a sitemap and wireframes. Many of the skills I learned are things that I will use throughout my professional marketing career. For example, I learned how to effectively collaborate with clients, schedule and manage a timeline, draft a proposal, estimate the cost of a project, generate leads, and construct a media plan.

Emily: Collaborating with members of the VisionPoint team to write blog posts was one of my most rewarding and exciting projects. While bouncing ideas back and forth and actually putting them into writing, I learned a ton about hot topics in marketing like website accessibility, lead generation, and content marketing. I have also been able to put a lot of this theory into practice while working on a wide variety of projects from writing proposals to participating in tagline brainstorms and conducting quality assurance on websites designed for our clients. Through these experiences, I have gained an incredible understanding of the many pieces that are critical to VisionPoint’s process.

Maria: Project management and understanding the work processes are the most important things I’ve learned during my internship. First, I have a much better idea now about the system of planning: setting up goals and tasks, scheduling, saving time for revisions and many more. Second, I was able to see how complex projects like website development, integrated marketing plans and proposals are divided into many phases and how these phases come together.

Advice for Future Interns

Some pearls of wisdom.

Cassie: Ask to be a part of anything and everything! You are amidst some of the smartest and most talented people in the business and they have a lot to teach you. Tony can teach you to restructure a website; Tara can teach you to create effective content; Luis can teach you to craft an image out of a story; Micaiah can teach you to interact with clients; and Chris can teach you to order the best sandwich at Boondini’s.

Emily: Communicate with the VisionPoint team about what you want to get out of your internship. Everyone in the office has worked hard to help me explore my interests and accomplish my goals.

Maria: Don’t be discouraged when a task seems daunting. Lots of projects are hard to start, but they become much easier once you get rolling. Don’t be afraid to tackle new tasks. You can do it!

Top 3 Things We Love About VisionPoint

The variety of tasks.
As interns, we have had the opportunity to get a taste of the entire VisionPoint process, from drafting proposals all the way to presenting the final product. We have been encouraged to try new things and figure out which interest us most.

Feedback.
The VisionPoint team is always providing feedback on our work. We know when we’ve done something well, and we don’t have to guess about areas where we can improve.

The VisionPoint team.
From our first days in the VisionPoint office, we have felt like integral and engaged members of the team. Through tough weeks at work and challenges outside the office, everyone at VisionPoint supports each other. Our collaborative and friendly work environment also extends beyond the office, and it’s always a good time whenever the VisionPoint team is together.

Our interns have accomplished a lot this summer, and they will definitely be missed! To learn more about Cassie, Emily and Maria, check out this blog post welcoming them to VisionPoint.