The Summer’s Over, But I’m Optimistic

I applied to Online Optimism in my final semester of studying public relations at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette with my fingers crossed. You can’t read about Online Optimism without feeling, well, optimistic. The culture is exciting and with an all-millennial staff, you know the team has a fresh take on marketing and advertising that’s unparalleled in the city. Prior to my internship at Online Optimism, I worked with in-house communications directors at several nonprofits in Lafayette. I found out pretty quickly that New Orleans is a completely different world than Lafayette and working at an agency would be the experience I needed heading into my professional career. Three months later, on the last day of my internship, I can’t help but reflect on my time here and everything I’ve learned.

A small sampling of water options at Online Optimism.
A small sampling of water options at Online Optimism.

At Online Optimism, You’re Part of the Team

This may seem obvious, but as an intern, it’s not uncommon to feel unimportant. It doesn’t help that most public relations internships available are unpaid! Online Optimism greeted me on my first day with my own business cards and a handbook to guide me through everything I’d need to know throughout my internship. Flynn, founder and CEO of Online Optimism, treats everyone (even interns) to lunch on Fridays in addition to keeping the shelves and refrigerator stocked with all the snacks and Le Croix we could want throughout the day. While snacks are very important to the creative process, Online Optimism also opens up brainstorm sessions to interns and provides opportunities for professional growth through networking and industry events and training. He’s truly created a culture for efficient and happy employees, which clearly contributes to their success.

Specialists Are Held to a Higher Standard

Flynn makes it clear during the interview process that specialists are paid because they are valued members of the team contributing real client work and performing at a high level. At Online Optimism you’re not an intern, you are a specialist. This simple title made me feel valued and that I had a unique role on the team. Just like any other employee, I got a mid-internship review where I was able to sit down and discuss my strengths and weakness, and ways to improve and continue to get the most out of my internship. Many companies wouldn’t take the time to do this sort of review with an intern, but it is clear that Flynn has a genuine interest in helping specialists grow and learn. In my time at Online Optimism I’ve gotten the chance to work with Maggie, Communications Director, on press releases, media lists, pitches, and stories for clients. I’ve gotten the chance to see an event go from brainstorm to finish and seen our clients in the news. It’s been a great learning experience that I know I wouldn’t have gotten elsewhere.

Online Optimism Table with PapersNew Orleans Just Does Things Differently

One of the roles of a public relations professional is to get their clients in the news. Coming from a different city, I learned pretty quickly that I needed to get familiar with the news outlets in New Orleans and who writes what. Each client is different, but being familiar with journalists and publications is the best way to get them coverage. I’ve learned from the PRAL luncheons I’ve had the chance to go to over the course of my internship that there’s nothing worse to a journalist than getting a pitch for a story they’d never write. Personalizing pitches and creating relationships is a great way to ensure that mutually beneficial relationships are forming and get your client the coverage they need.

There’s no doubt in my mind that Online Optimism is one of the best internships in New Orleans. The team is creative, hard-working and innovative. They work non-stop for their clients while still embracing the laid back attitude of the city once it’s time to put work on pause. It’s incredible to see what Online Optimism has accomplished in almost 5 years and I’m thrilled to see them grow. I’ve gained new skills and improved upon the skills I already had while also identifying areas to improve upon and room to grow. I leave my internship with a better understanding of the whole marketing process, but most importantly as a better communicator and public relations professional.

You can learn more about Online Optimism’s Internship program in New Orleans here.