International Institute of Saint Louis | Webster University

International Institute of Saint Louis

International Institute of Saint Louis offers internships to SOC students in the areas of marketing, media, and public relations.

International Institute St. Louis

Kate Howell, a Webster alumna (M.A., Management and Leadership, 2010), is the VP – Development and Communications and the Assistant Director – Festival of Nations. She gave us the following insight on completing an internship at the International Institute of Saint Louis (IISTL).

Kate Howell

What are the main responsibilities of an intern at International Institute of St. Louis?

Interns carry out a variety of projects during their time at the IISTL. They lead up our social media communications efforts, write press releases, blog articles, and more. Interns also play a role in preparing for and executing special events like the Festival of Nations or our Annual Trivia Night. 

What are some location-specific benefits of doing an internship there?

The staff at the Institute makes up the most diverse team in town. There are staff and volunteers from dozens of countries, educational backgrounds, and work assignments. You also get a behind-the-scenes look at the work of a non-profit. Our work environment is very open so just by being here and listening to people's conversations you can learn a lot. 

How might a student intern applicant set him or herself apart from other potential intern candidates?

I think it is important that interns can give examples of how they have done self-directed work, in school or outside of it. We have a very autonomous environment here and the intern who is a strong self-starter will be most successful.

What are some classic application and/or interviewing mistakes?

I think that it is important to tailor your resume and cover letter for each application. A generic resume is easy to spot. I want to know how you are uniquely qualified to be an intern at the International Institute.

What three qualities do you most look for in a student intern?

Someone who is comfortable with a little ambiguity in assignments will excel here. If you want leeway to be creative in your project execution then you will be a good fit here. It is also important to have some kind of international experience – foreign language classes, study abroad, travel, etc. And finally, a well-written email, cover letter, and resume are essential.

What all can a student expect to learn during his or her time as an intern with you?

Students will be able to apply their communications education to writing, planning, and carrying-out aspects of our marketing and public relations plans. You will also learn about working in a non-profit organization and what is expected of employees and volunteers in such an environment.

How heavily do you weigh sample work, online portfolios, and/or previous work experiences as you make your hiring decisions?

Some combination of the three things: samples, portfolios, or work experience make a difference, but aren't the end-all be-all of the hiring process. I want to see, read about, or hear about something you have done that will let me know you can do what we expect you to do. This could come out in your resume or the interview as well.

Once hired, what is the most important thing a student intern should remember to do each day?

It is very simple, but signing in and out at the front desk is very important. Also, staying up on the media and what is happening around the world is really important for communications interns.

What makes an intern successful?

The most successful interns are creative, independent, and risk-takers. We want you to make your mark on our agency, not just go through the motions. We may seem busy, but we will make time to hear your ideas. Just ask.

What should students know about a professional work environment that they might not already know?

It's hardly ever what you expect. There is always administrative work to be done. We all file, send mailings, and make phone calls. But, it is never going to be the bulk of the work you do with us. We are more professional than you might have imagined, or maybe we're more casual than you expected. I think coming in with an open mind is the key.

What is the most important piece of advice you give a student at the beginning of an internship?

Don't be shy. I am very busy and frequently out of the office, but don't be afraid to come in and sit down and have a conversation with me about your ideas and don't be afraid to ask questions.

What is the most important piece of advice you give a student at the end of an internship?

My top three pieces of advice for any student: study abroad, work on campus, find a mentor.

Tell us about your experience working with Webster students.

Webster University students always fit in so well to our environment at IISTL. The global focus of the university really pairs well with our mindset.


Webster University - School of Communications: The Center for Portfolio Development and Internships
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