When applying and interviewing for Ketchum’s Summer Fellows Program, I was curious about the title “fellow.” After completing eight out of the 10 weeks of the program, the origin of the name is clear.
A fellow can be defined as a person in the same position, involved in the same activity, or otherwise associated with another. Synonyms for fellow include companion, friend, comrade and partner, while synonyms for an intern include trainee or apprentice. Being a summer fellow at Ketchum doesn’t feel like being a trainee, but rather being a companion.
Don’t get me wrong — there has been an abundance of valuable learning and training during the 10-week Summer Fellows Program, from weekly sessions on Ketchum’s various industries and specialties to the endless Ketchum University courses offered. Ketchum encourages each employee to continue learning, especially the fellows. The experience here goes beyond learning public relations skills and gaining real client work; it has focused on my personal development just as much as my professional development.
Over the last eight weeks, I have learned so much more about the culture of Ketchum than I ever thought possible in today’s remote work environment. Ketchum’s culture can be described in many ways, but from a fellow’s perspective, here are just three:
From receiving a bouquet of flowers on my first week of work, to snack packages and notebooks and happy hour sessions, all the way to the daily check-in meetings with my manager, there is no doubt that Ketchum genuinely cares for its employees. It is so easy to feel overwhelmed when working at a new place virtually, but Ketchum has made me forget that this isn’t an in-person experience. The term “human-centered” is really accurate here.
From the moment I started, there was an expectation of rising to the next level of leadership — but I never felt like I had to do it alone. It’s been obvious that investing in the fellows is a Ketchum priority. Not only was I invited to participate in a culture of innovation, but my managers and team were excited to guide me through it. Through including me on brainstorm sessions, asking my opinions on certain projects and even taking 30 minutes out of the day to tell me stories or explain their job, I truly felt valued.
If I’ve learned one thing from working with real clients and creating PR strategies from start to finish at Ketchum, it’s that there are no limits. Ketchum invites any and all ideas, even those from the young fellows. Our team members are innovators, out-of-the-box thinkers, and even further, inventors. It takes a certain kind of skill to elevate a client’s request into a form of artistry. Just when you think your mind can’t be blown any more, it is. Ketchum’s willingness to take bold risks in client cases accurately reflects its risk to hire 26 college students full-time during the summer. We were invited into Ketchum’s culture with open arms, with eager mentors ready to teach us how to be the best PR professionals we could be — but more importantly, how to be empathetic while doing it. Now that isn’t just an average internship.
For Ketchum, it’s not just about increasing social media engagements or getting the most earned media possible; it’s about building meaningful relationships and providing the best possible growth opportunities, which is exactly what I have experienced as part of the Summer Fellows program. Ketchum strives to look beyond day-to-day business and bring that long-term vision to life through imagination and wisdom, empathy and intelligence.
So, if you are a college student yearning for that jumpstart to your communications career, look no further. You won’t find an opportunity better than Ketchum’s Summer Fellows Program. You’re not just an intern, but a fellow. And now that I have experienced what that means, I will be forever grateful that I came here.