Fun, Educational and Challenging: Reflections on My Experience as the First Mission North Fellow

It was a regular Tuesday when I received the phone call: “Hello. May I speak to Brielle?”

“This is she.”

“Congratulations! The Public Relations Society of America Foundation and Mission North’s The Future Is… Fellowship committee proudly selects you as our inaugural fellow.”

Wow, what an honor! With curiosity, determination and excitement, I eagerly anticipated the future. Still, I wasn’t totally sure what to expect when joining Mission North as a fellow in an intensive four-week remote internship.

As a rising senior public relations major at Howard University, I’ve always been curious about tech communications—an industry rarely broken into by women of color. In fact, only 26% of tech positions are held by women, and only 12% of those roles are held by minority women. Entering this fellowship, I looked forward to the exposure and in-depth knowledge that this experience would provide, as this opportunity is rare for BIPOC female students interested in the field.

After being selected for this fellowship, many of my peers asked me how tech communications actually works. Others have asked what my experience has been like. So for you (the next The Future Is.. Fellow or anyone interested in an internship with Mission North), I hope the following insights will encourage you to pursue this incredibly beneficial opportunity.

The Future Is… Fellowship provides a holistic educational experience in tech communications through weekly rotations between Mission North teams, including content writers, digital specialists and media experts. The program offers a helpful overview of the PR agency world and provides a taste of what an account coordinator would be doing every day here at Mission North. In addition, the fellowship includes a $15,000 scholarship, a $5,000 stipend and the internship with Mission North is paid.

What I Learned Week By Week

In the first week of my fellowship, I worked with the Content Studio team to track and log byline and sponsored content opportunities across the agency. These projects familiarized me with media lists and other key resources that are essential for every publicist.

During my second week, I worked across Mission North practice groups and created an agency-facing news roundup which detailed relevant news for the company’s many practices. This provided the most realistic glimpse into the life of an account coordinator at Mission North. Tasks included researching venture capital funders for the Life Sciences team, shadowing the Betterment team and using media dashboards to track client media coverage. I also got to familiarize myself with Muck Rack, a database tool commonly used across PR agencies. I thoroughly enjoyed all of the media scanning, because it allowed me to learn about the latest tech news on a global scale.

In my third week, I continued exploring different departments and teams, and conducted research for the Digital Studio team, which is responsible for social media, design work, paid advertising, audience insights and digital research. While working with them, I conducted research on current social media trends and identified industry-specific influencers. This exercise gave me greater exposure on how to use digital tools to further enhance brand reputation.

Each week challenged me to learn more about the industry and become a better communication specialist than I was the week before. However, my fourth and final week was the most exciting of them all. It’s not every day that you get to say you’re headed to the White House, but this rewarding fellowship concluded with the first-ever Mission North Persons of Color (POC) Summit in Washington, D.C.! A mix of discussion and visits to key historical sites, this summit allowed me to participate in conversations that discussed the intersectionality of my identity as a Black woman in the tech and communications industry. It was also an excellent opportunity to hear and receive advice from female BIPOC with extremely valuable work experiences and insights to share. [Editor's Note: We will soon publish a Dispatch post which details Mission North's year of diversity work including the POC Summit.] 

<split-lines>"Each week challenged me to learn more about the industry and become a better communication specialist than I was the week before."<split-lines>

My Overall Experience

Throughout my four-week experience, I also met with a range of Mission Northers from junior team members to co-CEO Bill Bourdon. One perk of Mission North’s midsize firm is the instant acceptance and warm welcome into the community that is felt from across the nation. Literally. Mission North employees work from New York to California and everywhere in between. 

I’d be lying if I said my experience in this program was a breeze. As an intern with absolutely zero prior experience in tech communications, I struggled with understanding company terminology, practice groups and assignments. However, the entire Mission North staff supported my growth every step of the way. I had the freedom to ask unlimited questions and receive unlimited reviews on my work. 

The PRSA Foundation and Mission North have created an incredible opportunity to support the interest of BIPOC women seeking exposure into this highly ethnographically exclusive field. If I could change anything about this program, I would extend its duration to at least two months. In just one month at Mission North, I learned and applied an incredible amount of skills. Moving forward, The Future Is… fellows may want to have twice as much time to gain a greater and more intensive look at the wide world of tech communications. 

<split-lines>"I had the freedom to ask unlimited questions and receive unlimited reviews on my work."<split-lines>

To any prospective applicants at Mission North: Apply! Do not hesitate. This program offered an incredible space for passion, curiosity and intellect to excel while exploring what it is like to work in tech communications and PR more generally.

With much gratitude, I thank the PRSA Foundation and Mission North for this incredible opportunity. 

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