There comes a point in most college students’ careers where they decide they are ready to take on an internship. As a Communication Studies student, there are so many different kinds of internships that are available to me, whether that be public relations, human resources, social media, marketing, etc. I had no idea where to start, but sent my resume out to a variety of companies. After several weeks of not finding the right fit, Dr. Bejerano connected me with REAL Prevention, who was seeking a marketing intern. As a senior currently in the 4 + 1 in Health and Strategic Communication master’s program, this internship seemed like the perfect fit!

This past semester, I interned remotely for REAL Prevention. I have always had a passion for health, and was very excited to intern in a health communication context.

REAL Prevention is a company that produces drug prevention education materials, targeted to youth. Their evidence-based prevention programs are made by kids, for kids. They have taken large strides in the prevention educational field by specifically tailoring their programs towards youth. The amazing people at REAL Prevention realized that there was a problem with substance abuse in youth, and a lack of education that could have prevented abuse habits. Using their research, they created programs such as keeping it REAL, REAL Media, and more.

The three main categories of work that I did during this internship were outreach, social media research, and marketing education.

One of the projects I worked on as a marketing intern was a contact sheet of health educators/coordinators for every school district in Los Angeles, Orange County, and San Diego. After setting up a spreadsheet with every school district on their own row, I began the journey of calling, leaving messages, and emailing the school districts. This was no small task, as some calls would be transferred several times within the department before landing on contact information, and others had no idea who was in charge of the program, and would simply direct me back to their website directory. Although the project proved frustrating at times, I finished it with increased confidence, as well as improved phone and email communication skills.

In addition to the contact sheet, I also worked the REAL Prevention booth at an OC Fair’s event. This was an amazing opportunity to get involved with the community and talk to everyday people about what REAL Prevention does. Outreach can be difficult, but it was rewarding to be able to look at all of the work I put in at the end of the semester.

An important aspect of marketing in today’s world is social media. On top of researching drug prevention articles, I also researched how to grow a social media following, how to use hashtags to your advantage and which hashtags could boost REAL Prevention’s media presence, possible accounts to follow and repost from, etc. I also learned how to use programs such as MailChimp and Hootsuite, which are both very prevalent in the social media industry.

Lastly, I was given the opportunity to use my time with REAL Prevention to learn more about marketing as a whole. REAL Prevention provided me with access to a website with learning modules on topics such as email advertising, paid advertising, search engine optimization, social media, analytics, and so much more. Through these training modules I have learned so much, and I know I will use these skills in my future careers.

Being an intern for REAL Prevention has given me so many learning opportunities. Even working remotely, I know that I have gained skills that will help me when I start working in the professional world. I am grateful for this experience and am excited to see what’s next!