When he accepted a prestigious media relations internship with the Pittsburgh Pirates, Kyle Oland thought he had put the finishing touch on his summer plans. The senior public relations major from Westminster, Md., planned to commute from Waynesburg to the city for every home game and looked forward to spending the summer doing what he loved, while also supplementing his income with a job in fast food.
But in the spring 2013 semester, when Oland opened an email from a professor at Waynesburg University and found a link to an application for a part-time internship at the Smith Brothers Agency, Oland figured that applying to the agency position couldn't hurt. The Agency, an acclaimed full service integrated advertising and digital agency in Pittsburgh, Pa., focuses on consumer packaged goods.
“I talked to the Pirates’ vice president of communication and he said that having both sports and agency background makes you more marketable,” Oland said. “I always like a challenge, but I didn’t think I would actually get it.”
Two weeks later, God revealed a more exciting summer plan for Oland than he could have hoped. He notified his food-industry job that he wouldn’t be able to work that summer, because he now had two big-name internships competing for his time.
“I am glad I opted to do two internships in two very different spectrums of public relations,” Oland said. “I discovered what I excel at and what I dislike, which has made me realize what I want to do upon graduation.”
Throughout his Pirates’ internship, Oland compiled media and press kits, wrote for MLB.com and the Pirates website and interviewed players and coaches. He distributed news publications to members of the media, broadcasters, TV crews, camera crews, the executive offices, players and coaches before each game.
“During the game, I sat in the press box and communicated via Google Chat with the Pirates' announcers,” Oland said. “Following the game, I compiled box scores and stat packs and then distributed these packets to the visiting clubhouse and the media.”
During games in which he worked for Major League Baseball, Oland served as a real-time correspondent. In this role, he provided in-game coverage of the night's game by finding unique stories via pictures or video interviews. He worked hand-in-hand with the Pirates' social media manager and the visiting public relations manager and even had the opportunity to eat dinner with the president of the Pittsburgh Pirates, Frank Coonely, and other team executives.
Across the street as a digital strategies intern for Smith Brothers, he monitored clients’ and competitors’ social media accounts, compiled weekly reports and researched trends in the field. Oland’s research was used by the firm’s public relations team to better plan and execute social media strategies. Additionally, he assisted in the planning and writing of various posts for the social media platforms of brands including Nestle Drumstick, Skinny Cow, Frosty Paws and Dolce Gusto.
“Kyle worked on a Twitter strategy for one of our clients. He provided a very thorough analysis with great recommendations,” said Kaitlyn Kline, social media coordinator/acting analytics coordinator at Smith Brothers Agency. “He always handled his workload very well and was eager to learn all the nuances of agency life – even if they weren't strictly related to social media and public relations. His drive is really something to note.”
With major brands and one of the season’s best baseball teams to represent, Oland faced a full schedule of events each day. Each morning, he drove into the city to work from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Smith Brothers, and then walked across the street to PNC Park. From there, depending on the game, he might not get home until around midnight or later.
“Working two internships was definitely a challenge,” Oland said. “While the days were long, it didn’t bother me because I understood that many would love to be in the position I was. I counted myself lucky.”
Approaching the summer, Oland’s biggest concern was balancing the two internships, but said that his days were quite comparable to his fast-paced, comprehensive days as a student in the Department of Communication at Waynesburg University.
“The Department of Communication teaches you to get involved and to manage your time well. It was no different than a day at Waynesburg where I could go from working in the Sports Information Office, to writing a Yellow Jacket article, to attending a PRSSA networking event, to covering an athletic game and of course classwork,” Oland said. “In so many ways, Waynesburg University prepared me for both internships. Waynesburg helped me gain the ability to juggle a variety of tasks and perform those tasks at a high level.”
After a strenuous but rewarding summer immersed in the world of public relations, Oland felt more motivated than ever to pursue his ultimate goal. Since freshman year, he has dreamed of returning to beloved Maryland to work for the Baltimore Ravens.
“The summer of 2013 has not only been a reward for the hard work I have put in the last three years, but also as a reassurance that I am on the right path to achieve my goal.”