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Intel from the Intern

When I started looking for internships for this summer, I knew I had to find a place that could give me the experiences I wanted. I’m an English major who is beginning a Master of Arts degree in the fall. Getting writing experience is really important to me.

I accepted an internship with The Deciding Factor eager to learn more about what would be expected from me. After almost three months with the company, I can say I’ve gained a lot of knowledge, both about writing and about the business world. Here are some things I’ve learned so far:

When the company cares, you care.

When I was looking for internships, I interviewed with a lot of big companies, and they all seemed to have one thing in common: They were too big to remember me. You know the type. They’re hiring eight other interns alongside you. You’re worried you’ll make copies and fetch coffee all summer. Well, at The Deciding Factor, I get to work on projects alongside the full-time employees, learning the art of writing marketing content. The company is small, I’m the only intern, everyone knows my name and I like it this way.

Reaching the audience is the most important thing.

I’m working for a marketing company that deals in everything from content development to marketing strategy. To be successful in this type of business, I’m learning rhetorical skills that allow me to successfully reach out to the reader in a manner that is appropriate, engaging and meaningful. I’ve learned that every word matters, from the headline at the top to the call to action at the bottom that allows a reader to delve further into a topic of interest.

Making friends makes your life much easier.

Making an effort to befriend everyone in your office helps tremendously. By making an effort to be friendly and helpful, I receive more assignments more quickly, and I feel more comfortable asking for assistance from my teammates. Tom Robinette knows he can make my day by sending over a new article assignment and some writing advice along with it. Elizabeth Creehan tirelessly answers my constant questions, and Michael Abbott always carves time out of his busy schedule to help me fine-tune big projects.

Being confident makes a huge difference.

No one expects you to be perfect when you start out at a new job, but I try to remind myself that I was hired because people see potential and talent in me. Even if I’m unsure about the work, I remember that I’m here to learn and grow; and when I fail, I remember that I’m here to learn from my mistakes. 

Consistency is so important.

My time is spent assisting on projects that have lots of small components that have to be absolutely perfect. Currently, I’m working on a website that will launch in October. The content involves hundreds of tiny, finicky details that overlap into various hierarchies and categories. So far, I’ve messed up just about every page I’ve created for the site, because I’m unaccustomed to working on something that demands such a high level of uniformity. Fortunately, the staff at The Deciding Factor includes some patient people who want to see me succeed and happily help me understand how to correct my errors.

Having fun is important, too.

I’m at this internship to learn and work hard, but I always end up having a great time as well. Whether it’s meeting new clients, learning new skills or maybe just chatting with a desk mate, I always find a way to balance my work-to-fun ratio. Our president, Karen Meyers Holzer, is careful to plan birthday lunches for the team, celebrate holidays and make sure everyone feels important. (And sometimes when we need a moment of reprieve, we shoot each other with Nerf guns we keep at our desks.)

As I begin a new adventure as a senior year at Xavier University, I look forward to taking some new skills and knowledge with me. I’ve learned a lot in my short time with TDF, and I’m excited to see how it will influence my life in the professional realm.

Have you learned anything really great from your recent internship? Share your story with us at

Karen Vance is the Director of Digital and Content Marketing for The Deciding Factor, Inc. She keeps busy by running her two teenage boys to sporting and musical activities. She and her husband run a baseball empire called Galaxy Baseball with 15 teams and about 160 kids. Factoid: You can find her on the weekends ringing the bass bells in her church Handbell Choir or scorekeeping baseball in the stands.
(513) 548-4059