When you start an internship, you always wonder if the horror stories are true.
Am I going to be getting coffee for the office everyday? Will anyone know my name? Luckily for me, interning at Charleston Wine + Food turned out to be the complete opposite.
When I accepted an internship with CHSWFF’s Marketing + Communications department, I was ecstatic. I was going to be able to combine my love of food with my passion for public relations. But, regardless of my excitement, the nerves were still there when I walked through the door on my first day. With almost no experience prior to the internship, I was certain no one would take me seriously and I would be relegated to coffee duty before the first week was up.
Instead, I met a team of amazing professionals who welcomed me with huge smiles and a willingness to let me learn from them, especially my supervisor. From the first staff meeting I attended, the CHSWFF team treated me as a peer and made sure I wasn’t just an intern. By the second month of my internship, I was writing press releases, drafting blogs, and interacting with some of Charleston’s top culinary and media professionals.
Leading up to the festival, I truly felt as though I had become a member of the team. Not only was my input valued, but I was given responsibilities most interns could only hope for. The biggest of these was the opportunity to take the lead on a series of Facebook Live videos before and during the festival, featuring some of the culinary world’s biggest names. And, yes, I was starstruck when I met Gail Simmons.
By the time the festival ended and my internship was winding down, eight months of hard work and learning seemed to have gone by in the blink of an eye.
During a lunch conversation with a friend, I was asked what it was like being an intern at Charleston Wine + Food. That got me thinking, and I realized that intern isn’t really the right word. In my opinion, the word “intern” makes you seem less-than and trivializes your importance to the organization. My experience with Wine + Food was certainly not those things.
As a member of the CHSWFF team, you know you are going to be surrounded by some of the brightest and most talented people in the business. Not only are they talented, but each staff member is extremely willing to share their knowledge with you. I have learned from every single person at Charleston Wine + Food and now have an arsenal of skills I would have never gotten in a classroom.
More importantly, my time at CHSWFF taught me a lot personally. Witnessing a staff who are so passionate and dedicated to what they are doing day-in and day-out showed me the meaning behind the phrase, “Do what you love.” The staff at Charleston Wine + Food inspired me to always work my hardest and give each task 110 percent. But, even more than hard work, the CHSWFF team taught me the importance of treating each other with kindness and supporting those around you. College has a way of emphasizing individual achievement, but I learned that no one can ever be successful without the support of an amazing team.
So, looking forward, I’m not sure what my next step is. But, what I do know is that my time with CHSWFF has allowed me to grow both professionally and personally. I have strengthened my writing skills, bolstered my strategic thinking, and grown into a real public relations professional. Outside of the pages of a resumé, though, I am leaving as a better person thanks to my time at Charleston Wine + Food. I now know what it means to work as a team and how to find the value in every person.
With that said, I will always be grateful for the time I spent with Charleston Wine + Food. The people I met and the experiences I had are unparalleled by any other internship. It is my hope future interns find the experience as rewarding as I did and help this amazing organization continue to grow. Until then…