As the New York Times so eloquently pointed out, summer internships were, unfortunately, another casualty of the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s apparent that even still, traditional internship opportunities are slow to make a resurgence, quite like indoor dining and Friday night football. But for millions of college students, internships can be a stepping-stone to full-time work, a vital source of income and even a graduation requirement. With corporations allowing employees to work from home indefinitely and even permanently, it’s been more challenging than usual to gain valuable hands-on experience this year – but not at Coyne.

My LinkedIn feed is flooded with hopeful (and sometimes disheartened) posts from students pleading for experience and a leg-up on their competition, now more than ever. Luckily Coyne PR – Creative Agency of the Year and recently named one of the Top Places to Work in PR for 2020 by PR NEWS – is an agency that understands the importance of those formative years at the beginning of a promising career and decided to help. Traditionally, Coyne has an award-winning intern program and welcomes an extremely talented group of interns each season that works closely with our teammates across several practices within the agency. With a track record for hiring some of the best and the brightest from each intern class, Coyne acknowledges the business need for investing in entry-level staff.

“Typically, we extend full-time offers to a significant percentage of our interns before they enter their senior year of college,” said Tina Calo, Director of HR for Coyne PR. “The interns who become permanent members of the Coyne family become mentors to future interns and play invaluable roles within our teams. They embody the Coyne culture and we’re confident in extending an offer to them early in the process so they can enjoy their senior year knowing we’re here waiting for them to start their careers with us.”

Coyne’s mission is simple and has been spearheaded for nearly 30 years by Founder and CEO, Tom Coyne. He says that the mission of the agency has never been more relevant or so tested than in the last 6+ months, during the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite the WFH mandates and taking all brainstorms, client calls, staff meetings and media events virtual for more than 200 days now, company culture has never been more robust. “Rather than shut down, go dark or wait for the world to go back to ‘normal,’ we created our standard,” says Tom. “Interns are such a valuable asset to us and we didn’t want to lose them. So we didn’t!”

This summer, while many companies canceled their programs outright due to COVID-19, Coyne welcomed its first class of virtual interns from zip codes throughout New York and New Jersey, representing esteemed universities from around the country. “Going virtual has expanded our candidate pool immensely,” said Tina Calo. “We were able to choose outstanding interns, who otherwise would have been unavailable due to location while they’re away at school.” Our interns connected with groups face-to-face via Microsoft Teams, brainstormed via Zoom and even had a hand in media relations to get the word out about virtual events and cutting-edge campaigns, helping clients communicate through COVID.

When asked about the Coyne intern program, summer interns shared that the experience exceeded their expectations. One intern, a Wake Forest PR student, said, “This has been the most rewarding and educational of my internships. I have had previous internships that provided little or no direction. My team was incredibly welcoming, helpful and communicative. Most importantly, I was always doing work that mattered and never found myself bored or completing busy-work. ‘The Coyne Culture’ made all of the difference to me.”

Did they experience any challenges at the hands of WFH-ness? Another intern, a University of Delaware student, shared one of her biggest challenges: the lack of personal networking afforded by remote work. “It is harder to meet people when you can’t meet face to face, but Coyne encouraged us as interns to reach out to different employees for virtual lunches, which was a great way to combat one of the only true ‘cons’ of this experience.”

Ultimately, the program was a success in the eyes of interns, managers and leadership alike. This fall, Coyne has welcomed another class of virtual interns who are off to a running start conducting research, being creative and contributing to the company culture just like we knew they would.

Despite all of the stressors and uncertainties generated by the pandemic, Coyne PR’s support of clients and employees never faltered. “We are proud to say that we decided to weather the storm together,” said Tom Coyne. “We replaced furloughs and lay-offs with more training and employee engagement events, and it’s paid massive dividends. We even kept our promise to the interns we hired full-time last year – and they’ve been rockstars right out of the gate. I am proud of this team, every one of them.”

So, for those looking for exciting PR opportunities, experience and internships, look no further than Coyne PR. We’d be lucky to have you! After all, Coyne PR is where you want to be (even as an intern … during a pandemic … while working from home).

Author’s Note: While I wasn’t a lucky member of an intern class at Coyne before starting my career, I can certainly attest to the importance of a well-rounded internship experience, especially at a PR agency. The lessons I learned as an intern have stuck with me daily, and I’d never trade the opportunities I received thanks to my managers and mentors from those semesters and busy summers. Besides, not many interns get to hang backstage with Kim Kardashian West in Los Angeles – but that’s another story. 😊