Venture Discovery Grant provides real-world experience for Bluffton student
Claire Clay ’18, a public relations major from Van Wert, Ohio, was one of two recipients of a 2017 Venture Discovery Grant. This grant allows students to design a four-week summer experience based on their own vocational goals. Clay came up with the idea to not only create a summer opportunity to gain insight into what she plans to do after graduation, but to give back to her community.
“Being able to design my own internship has been invaluable to my search for a career path following graduation. This is a unique program offered through Bluffton, and without it, I would be many steps behind where I am now professionally, mentally and in my academic work. Being able to help Lincolnview Local Schools and the community during this process was a nice additional bonus,” said Clay.
During her internship Clay established and maintained a public relations role for Lincolnview High School. Some of the tasks she completed daily included writing news releases and features and creating promotional videos. Focusing on the students within the community, Clay wrote 16 news articles that were later published and also created six videos along with providing photography work.
Clay explained it was her work as a student aide in the high school’s office that really sparked her interest in coming back and completing the internship. The grant is supported by The Venture project and was made possible through the generous support of the Council of Independent Colleges and the Lilly Endowment Inc.
“That experience definitely was the driving force behind this internship. I love the employees and students at Lincolnview, so the school district allowing me to repay it for everything it has given me as a student was a tremendous blessing.”
Part of Clay’s self-made internship allowed her to not only create a work experience that she would benefit from both personally and professionally, but one that would also help the high school as well.
“I really wanted to help show Van Wert and the surrounding areas all the great things Lincolnview has been doing at the school and in the community. It's such an amazing school and they don't take enough credit for all they do!”
Some of the takeaways from this internship were more than just the work experience. For Clay, she had the chance to learn how to act professionally with people she knew personally and already had existing relationships with. She also learned that not everything you do will be a success the first time you do it. For example, not every news article she wrote got printed. It was a reminder to Clay that you always have to try no matter the outcome.
Clay articulated after taking part in this internship, she realized a lot of her success during this time came from the preparation provided by faculty and staff at the university.
“My Bluffton professors and classwork prepared me well for this experience,” said Clay. “Professionally, working in the public relations department as a student has given me the insight on how a PR strategy is planned and implemented day to day. The combination of classroom and real life work experiences that I get from Bluffton are really paying off.”
-Jena O’Brien, public relations student assistant