October 21, 2010
Any student who has applied for a summer internship knows how stiff the competition can be, but Northwest senior Devin Aaron had a summer she won’t soon forget, working two internships and rubbing elbows with first lady Michelle Obama.
Aaron, a public relations major from Kansas City, spent her summer working with public relations firm Parris Communications Inc. and the Kansas City T-Bones minor league baseball team.
While the day-to-day experiences at each internship were valuable, a visit from Obama easily took the prize as Aaron’s favorite experience of the summer.
Aaron assisted Parris Communications’ staff and rode in the motorcade July 12 when Obama visited Kansas City to speak at the NAACP convention. The firm’s founder Roshann Parris has played key roles in the Clinton and Obama presidential campaigns.
“My boss came to me and asked if I would be willing to be in the motorcade, and I said, ‘Absolutely, because who gets to do that in their life?’ ” Aaron said. “I was there at the right time.”
On the day of the first lady’s arrival, Aaron joined other staff members at Kansas City International’s private airfield and watched as Air Force One landed a short distance away. Secret Service cars quickly picked up the staff members and sped to Bartle Hall for the first lady’s appearance.
“We didn’t have to stop at red lights, there’s motorcycle cops zooming by,” Aaron said. “There’s so much going on. It’s fast paced and it’s go, go, go all the time.”
At Bartle Hall, Obama’s assistant invited Aaron and another intern into a private tent where they met the first lady. Aaron talked with Obama for a few minutes and posed for a picture with her.
Aaron said she became interested in public relations by observing an older friend who worked in the industry. Aaron watched the friend plan events and saw how much she enjoyed her work.
At Parris, Aaron assisted with developing media plans, compiling media lists and delivering materials to radio stations and newspapers. Aaron developed a media plan to help Cambria Cove with its co-sponsorship of Fashion Week. She also made a media pitch to staff at Men’s Health Magazine.
“A lot of it was just learning how to do a PR plan, how to put in place, how to reach out to different publications and make sure they know what’s going on with your company,” Aaron said. “It was very beneficial to me. It was a perfect real world experience.”
Additionally, Aaron was a promotions intern for the Kansas City T-Bones and assisted with on-field promotions during home games.
Aaron said she also applied to work with the T-Bones because she has an interest in sports marketing. When she was offered opportunities to work for Parris and the T-Bones, she decided to try both. On a typical day, she finished work at Parris around 2 in the afternoon and reported to the T-Bones’ ballpark by 4 p.m.
“I figured I’m going to have the rest of my life to have fun, I can definitely spend one summer working two internships and getting the experience I need to get a good job after I graduate,” she said.
Aaron advised students looking for that perfect internship to keep an open mind about the opportunities that are available.“You never know what kind of experiences you’ll get to have,” she said. “Apply to as many places as you possibly can. Don’t set your heart on one place because you can have a really great experience at another place.