Can someone please tell me where summer went? It’s hard to believe it, but back-to-school season is upon us, which means our first Padilla NEXTerns summer internship program has officially wrapped.

We had a fantastic summer getting to know our 16 NEXTerns, who spanned our offices in New York, Chicago, Richmond, Minneapolis and Washington, D.C. We created opportunities for hands-on learning, organized internal and external trainings, fostered mentor-mentee relationships, saw some great work, and certainly made a lasting impression on one another. And I would be remiss if I failed to mention the NEXTerns swag, ice cream socials, field trips and fun that was had along the way!

Now that the 2018 class of NEXTerns have come and gone (or come on full time!), we thought it would be fun to share a little bit about their experiences, in their own words. Here are some thoughts from our Richmond NEXTerns:

Q: What did you enjoy about your NEXTernship at Padilla?

A: Padilla made me feel incredibly valued as a NEXTern and I always felt free to share my perspective when working on a project. Everyone was so helpful and wanted me to get the most out of the NEXTernship, so I always felt comfortable asking questions. I didn’t feel like just a “worker bee,” but instead, part of the team. It was a pleasant surprise to feel so included in important discussions and assignments.

Julia Brewster – Corporate Communications NEXTern, University of Lynchburg ’19

Q: What was your favorite project this summer?

A: My favorite (and biggest) project this summer was putting on a crisis drill for Padilla’s Richmond office. I was able to see the project through from start to finish. I assisted in writing the entire drill, concepted and created fake social media posts and news headlines, and got the chance to run the drill. It was an incredible experience.

Julia Lantzy – Crisis Management & Critical Issues NEXTern, William & Mary ‘20

Q: Is there anything that surprised you during your summer with Padilla?

A: I was definitely surprised by how much I learned. I enjoyed getting to learn about different areas of the communications industry. Meetings about media relations, digital trends and more helped expand my knowledge and encouraged me to learn more about different areas of the field. Padilla provided me with so many growth opportunities and I was surprised by how much I grew both personally and professionally this summer.

Meredith Thomas – Associate Brand Strategist NEXTern, University of Texas at Austin ‘19

Meetings about media relations, digital trends and more helped expand my knowledge and encouraged me to learn more. I was surprised by how much I grew both personally and professionally this summer. #NEXTernsClick To Tweet

Q: What advice would you offer students looking to gain internship experience?

Julia B.: Get to know alumni from your school. Put yourself out there at different networking events – as intimidating as they might seem – or even ask your advisor for alumni you might be able to connect with based on your field.

Julia L.: Don’t be afraid to ask questions – no matter how silly you think the question may be, everyone is eager to help you. Also, make sure that every project you put out is the very best it can be. At the end of the day, the work that you do is an extension of you and your work ethic.

Meredith: Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there. Aim high and have confidence in your skills. Most of all, make yourself valuable and go the extra mile, because the more that you do, the more you learn and the more prepared you will feel for the future.

Truth be told, we get as much out of our NEXTern program as our NEXTerns do. It was a great summer and we can’t wait to take what we’ve learned and improve the program for next year. Want to join our class of Padilla NEXTerns in the summer of 2019? Check back in January for more information.

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