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    Posted May 28, 2013 by
    Dexter, Missouri
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    Student voices in journalism

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    Experience Counts: Zach Hedrick Gains Valuable Intern Experience

    DEXTER, MO --

    Experience Counts for Zachariah Hedrick

    In the midst of graduation season, many college students are considering their next steps. As they leave campus behind and plan for their future careers, many students discover that their classes didn’t fully prepare them to hit the ground running. Though many college students have a general idea of what they would like to do post-graduation, their lack of hands-on experience can limit their employment opportunities in this competitive economy. Furthermore, thinking about a career is far different that actually living it, and without some real exposure, many graduates may find that their dream job is not at all what they thought it would be. Internships, however, help graduates bridge the gap between being a student and becoming a career professional.

    Well-rounded internships allow students to get a feel for their chosen field, learn a great deal though practical experience and build invaluable business contacts that could serve them well in the future. For example, recent college graduate Zach Hedrick knew that, while his degree in Public Relations would help jumpstart his career, he also understood that internships could give him practical exposure, the opportunity for networking and allow him to observe and apply what he learned in the classroom.

    In 2012, Zach was awarded an internship with the Jonesboro, Arkansas Chamber of Commerce. Working under the Economic Development Department, Zach was able to put his education in graphics development to work. He created logos for both the Chamber of Commerce and the City of Jonesboro, which are still in use today. He also participated in surveys and other tasks that allowed him to further learn about government and economic development. That same year, Zach also landed an internship with the Arkansas State University football team, and worked within the recruiting department.

    Understanding the value of his experiences, Zach also interned for the Brickhouse Grill, a Jonesboro hotspot, and was able to put his education in marketing and public relations to work right away. He helped revamp the popular eatery’s marketing plan to take advantage of grassroots and social media advertising options. He also collaborated on menu design, to ensure the Brickhouse Grill accurately targeted their intended customer base. Overall, this internship gave Zach greater insight as to how retail businesses utilize public relations and marketing as part of a comprehensive plan for success.

    Having graduated this spring, Zach continues to build a portfolio of experience and professional contacts. He was recently selected for an internship with Arkansas Representative Rick Crawford and will serve at his Washington, D.C. office this summer. Zach hopes that this latest internship will teach him the practical inner-workings of the government, and give him the firsthand knowledge he will need in launching his future career.

    When considering the value of internships for post-graduation success, Zach Hedrick serves as a good example of maximizing these opportunities. His past and current internships have helped him build a solid skill-set, one that will give him a genuine advantage in his industry. By utilizing every internship possibility, college graduates gain both experience and networking contacts, and get a head start on their future careers.
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