We recently spoke with Russell Wojcik, a 2014 BA in WRD graduate who participated in two internships during his time at DePaul. He worked as an editorial intern at Wagstaff Worldwide PR and as a blog writer for Newman Realty, receiving academic credit for both through his enrollment in WRD 398, part of WRD’s professional internship program.
Since graduation, Russell has relocated to Phoenix and now works for an online travel company as a Content Strategist and PR Coordinator, a position that he says uses many of the skills he developed and honed as an intern. In addition, he continues to do freelance work for both Wagstaff and Newman.
We’re happy he took the time to share a little about his experiences!
Tell us about your internships. What did you hope to learn?
At Wagstaff, I was responsible for working with the editorial director to create press kits for clients. I interviewed clients, conducted research on individuals and companies, and worked with the PR teams to develop a solid representation of the client that could be supplied/pitched to media outlets. At Newman Realty, I worked directly with the owner and the webmaster to write, share, and promote blog posts pertaining to Chicago real estate, restaurants, news, and general lifestyle topics.
I was drawn to both of my internships because they offered real-world experience writing in environments I was interested in. I hoped to learn how to operate as a professional in the industry: what would be expected of me and my work; how I would interact with supervisors, clients, and the public; and how to translate my classroom skills into productive work skills.
How did your learning in the internships fit in with your learning in the WRD program?
Any class that involved a research project directly relates to the working world. I think the most important skillset I’ve gained is how to locate, use, and credit various sources and how to craft information into a story.
The WRD internship classes were very helpful, too, in that they helped me focus on my own progress separate from the company environment. Having a professor see your work and help you recognize problems and progress really helps in professional and educational development.
Do you have a favorite memory from either internship?
The most rewarding moment of my Newman Realty internship was when one of my posts reached #3 on the search engine results page for our intended query. We were the first to jump on the development, and it totally paid off. Also, having business come as a direct referral through one of my posts is always a good feeling. It means what I’m doing is working, directly and immediately.
What advice do you have for someone who is interested in doing a similar internship?
Have confidence. DePaul prepares you for the real world more than you may think. Also, have a few writing samples perfect and polished, be ready to write/edit on the spot, and always show enthusiasm.
Finally, don’t be afraid to apply for anything that interests you. The worst that will happen is a kind “no, thank you.” If you don’t have confidence, pretend you do. I was surprised at how much I picked up on the job, even when I was worried I may be in over my head.
Any final thoughts to share?
Working with a mentor to learn the ins and outs of an industry is a really “safe” way to get experience in the real world, and it’s hard to find outside an internship setting. It’s nice to be given responsibility and freedom, but still have that safety net to fall back on. Participating in internships gave me confidence in myself, my work, and my ability to get things done.