What to Expect From a Financial PR Internship
Cognito Intern Spotlight featuring Tessa McKinley and Corinne Teschner
It’s that time of year again, not the holidays; we’re talking about intern season. Worldwide college and university students are beginning their search for that once-in-a-lifetime spring and summer internship. This past year two of these students landed an internship with our firm and we asked them to share their experience working and learning from Cognito New York. Corinne started as a summer intern and has now transitioned into a full-time member of the team and Tessa continues to intern remotely from Quinnipiac University. Below we capture a little more about them and their experience as media relations interns.
1. Can you tell me a little about your background? (where you’re from, what course you're studying in school, etc.)
TM: I’m a rising senior at Quinnipiac University majoring in Media Studies with a minor in Political Science. I spent my early life in the Columbus, Ohio area before moving to New Canaan, Connecticut. I currently live in Fairfield, Connecticut, where I carry Midwestern values and Northeast ambition.
CT: I am a Swedish-Swiss-American, who just graduated in May 2015 from Barnard College, Columbia University, with a degree in European history.
2. How did you first hear about Cognito?
TM: The Cognito intern posting came across my LinkedIn news feed in the Spring under “Jobs you may be interested in.” (They couldn’t have been more right!)
CT: I heard about Cognito through word of mouth and lots of research on PR firms.
3. What attracted you to an internship at Cognito?
TM: I liked that Cognito specialized in finance exclusively. The Cognito team takes a consultative approach with their clients to see the bigger picture of what the company is trying to accomplish. Applying this approach gives the team an expert approach to everything from networking opportunities and media relations to social media activity and across the board content.
CT: I was particularly attracted to an internship at Cognito due to its unique focus on finance and financial technology. I have interned in PR before, but I worked mostly in-house, and was interested in seeing what it would be like to work at an agency.
4. How was your experience interning in New York City?
TM: Authentic. Our New York office is nuzzled right into the Financial District where all the action in the industry is happening. Walking to work always got me pumped for the day knowing that I was participating in what was happening in the offices I was passing, even if it was in a small way.
CT: I love interning in New York City! I have lived here for a few years now, but it is a great place to meet new, interesting people from different backgrounds.
5. What was your favorite internship memory at Cognito?
TM: Cognito’s office meetings are so nice and relaxing. It’s an open forum that we have every Friday where the whole office gets together to discuss updates on various projects and company news. I remember thinking how great it was that they have a section of the meeting called “Notes We Love” as a way to shout out colleagues for great work they are doing. I couldn’t stop smiling when one of my colleagues submitted a note for me and is definitely something I’ll never forget from this internship experience.
CT: One of my favorite memories was the “Lunch & Learns” because it gave the interns an opportunity to be educated on fundamental aspects of communications and the finance industry in a casual environment.
6. What was the most interesting opportunity you were given?
TM: Attending the New York Stock Exchange MarketsWiki event. The event featured speakers from around the fintech and financial services industry who talked about the entire scope of our markets—trading, indexes, exchanges, regulation and technology. Their success stories were inspiring and their insight into the trends in the markets was very valuable. I think it also gave us a better understanding of how they want their businesses to be seen in the marketplace and how we, as PR professionals, can help them get there.
CT: I think the most interesting opportunity I was given at Cognito was drafting pitches for clients because it allowed me to see why media relationships and keeping track of industry trends is so important.
7. The most challenging?
TM: This was my first experience doing public relations in the fintech and financial services industry, so learning about the trends and lingo was all new to me.
CT: I think one of the challenges I faced was getting used to the Finance/PR terms.
8. What’s something about your internship that you didn’t expect?
TM: I didn’t expect it to be as team oriented as Cognito is. Everyone in the office works together really well and took the time to explain the “why” and “how” to the interns.
CT: I did not expect to play such a large role in finding industry trends for client pitches, seeing as in the past, I have mostly worked in-house and my responsibilities were more geared towards how to improve the image of the company I was working for, instead of finding ways for clients to be featured in the media.
9. What did you learn from your internship that you didn’t know before?
TM: How important direct communication is internally and externally. Whether by email, phone or in-person, professional etiquette is essential.
CT: I learned about several different aspects of finance that I had never been exposed to before. When we visited the NYSE, for example, we learned about the inner workings of a trading floor and how technology has impacted the finance industry as a whole.
10. How has this internship shaped your future plans?
TM: This internship has showed me that the booming fintech industry is where I want to focus my passion for branding and messaging.
CT: This internship solidified my interest to pursue a career in PR, and more specifically finance PR.
11. What advice do you have for future interns?
TM: Stay curious!
CT: Always ask a lot of questions and keep track of deadlines in your calendar.
12. If you could travel to one place, where would it be and why?
TM: I would travel to the future to find out how to save my clients from any potential crisis!
CT: I would travel to New Zealand because I have never been and love traveling!
We all remember our first internship; the joys and challenges it brought us and, if we were lucky, we learned a few things along the way. We are glad Tessa and Corinne enjoyed their time with us and are on the lookout for professional and creative young minds such as these for future opportunities. If you are interested in an internship please reach out to our head of HR, Loreal Torres.