On July 27, YOakleyPR celebrated its third year of business as a boutique public relations firm serving 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Over the last three years, YOakleyPR has experienced steady growth and its owner, Yasheaka Oakley Owens, M.A., couldn’t be more proud.
“I launched this small business while pursuing my Master of Arts degree at Kent State University, working full-time in email marketing, and participating in a virtual mentorship program,” said Oakley Owens. “I have enjoyed mentoring a variety of individuals and it has taught a great deal about working with this audience of nontraditional learners.”
Motivated by the unique coursework she completed in her master’s degree program and the flexibility of her mentorship program, Oakley Owens launched a virtual internship program in 2013 in order to engage young and mature professionals seeking professional development in the fields of public relations, online marketing, and human resources.
Participants actively consult with 501(c)(3) nonprofits that require support services on a pro bono basis while providing participants with the professional experience they need to apply for and earn additional internships or paid, full-time employment after graduating from their undergraduate degree programs. Geared towards the nontraditional student who desires a flexible schedule, the virtual internship program has successfully attracted graduate-level participants and post-graduate professionals interested in making career changes or exploring a new skill set.
Having had such a unique start herself, Oakley Owens laughed as she stated, “I tell all of my interns my start up story in order to energize and motivate them to understand that every opportunity is exactly what you make of it.”
This has become the unofficial mantra of the YOakleyPR Virtual Internship Program which has served more than 50 students over the past three years. The program is customized into three individual teams and features general participant or management tracks in each sector. Interns who excel are offered the opportunity to lead small project teams and take a deeper dive into project management or small business management depending on their interests.
By keeping the teams limited to 3 to 5 participants, Oakley Owens finds that participants are able to build a rapport with a client / project and become “subject matter experts” in relation to their assignments and deliverables.
“I always encourage the participants to ‘pick a project’ and commit to that project for their four to six months with YOakleyPR, because I want them to build a story around their internship and feel confident when they are invited to an interview and asked, ‘What did you do during this internship?’ This is not a go-get-my-coffee or do-this-busy-work type of experience.”
In preparation for its third year anniversary, YOakleyPR interns from the Public Relations and Human Resources Teams worked together to research and develop an infographic that highlighted some of the best aspects of the Virtual Internship Program. Research and development included reviewing old intern personnel files, collecting testimonials, and an intensive design process that resulted in the following creative graphic.
“I would like to thank Project Management Interns Gianni Lai, Lynn Tihopu, and Graphic Design Intern Elizabeth Olmstead of Lizardbreath Designs for their patience and diligence. The final product is exactly what I hoped it could be!” said Oakley Owens.
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If you would like to learn more about the virtual internship program at YOakleyPR, please visit our “Internships” page for more information.