UWF in the Community

UWF student gleans priceless experience from internship program

Fiesta of Five Flags is a non-profit organization in Pensacola dedicated to celebrating northwest Florida’s heritage and promoting tourism in the region. Mallory Kennedy, a recently graduated Communication Arts student at the University of West Florida, interned with the organization over the summer and wrote press releases, compiled media clippings, assisted with coordinating events, obtained and maintained sponsorships and implemented social media strategies.

As a student in UWF’s public relations program, Kennedy learned the classroom theory of how to properly execute what was asked of her and the internship experience complemented that by providing her with a valuable, real-world education.

“The real world is different from the classroom,” said Kennedy. “As opposed to getting graded on how well you perform at your job, your performance determines whether or not you are worthy of keeping your job. Many of the lessons and skills you learn in the classroom are just as relevant in the real world; however, your responsibilities and consequences are greater.”

For the past 18 years, the public relations internship program has provided more than 700 students with placements locally, nationally and internationally. The program allows a student to intern 20 hours a week for the duration of a semester, after which they receive full academic credit and a letter of recommendation. It also helped Kennedy asses her career goals and realize her opportunities for improvement.

“Having the real-world experience at my internship allowed me to determine what my strengths and weaknesses are,” said Kennedy. “It also gave me a better idea of what type of organization I would or wouldn’t want to work for.”

A primary tool that Kennedy used at Fiesta of Five Flags was social media, an emerging trend in the PR business that allows for distribution of information at a low cost and encourages constructive, two-way dialogue between a company and its target audience. Popular social networking tools include Facebook and Twitter.

“Social networking is very effective,” said Kennedy. “Our use of social media enabled us to relay pertinent information effectively and immediately to our followers.”

It is because of this advantage of working with actual participants in her field on the forefront of technology that Kennedy recommends the internship program to students interested in the field of public relations.

“The UWF internship program is an immense benefit to any and all students,” said Kennedy. “I am so thankful that I had the opportunity to participate in it.”

For more information on the UWF Communication Arts public relations program, visit uwf.edu/commarts or call (850) 474-2874.