New York intern Simmons says it’s worth missing a summer on beach
In the second of a series of features on Bermudian students working abroad, ALEX WRIGHT speaks to Cole Simmons about starting out on his career in public relations.
Some wise words of advice from former
Royal Gazette reporter Glenn Jones inspired Cole Simmons to take the leap into the communications industry.
Mr Simmons is currently working as an intern at Corbin-Hillman Communications in New York covering everything from writing press releases and creating pitches for journalists to branding for clients.
Having graduated from Bermuda Institute in 2008 and won a scholarship from the Bermuda Conference of Seventh-Day Adventists, Mr Simmons worked for a year at the Cabinet Office, where he had done work experience during his last year of high school.
A month before moving to England to study journalism and human rights at Kingston University, the 22-year-old from Warwick, visited Haiti to help orphans with the Feed My Lambs Ministry.
Following up on recommendations from former Senator and current Digicel CEO Wayne Caines and Mr Jones to go into public relations, Mr Simmons instead opted for journalism, before moving on to Corbin-Hillman Communications for four months this summer.
“It was Glenn’s high expectations and balanced spirit of benevolence towards me as his intern that made me know it was possible,” he said. “He would always tell me his experiences and I would always take notes, from how he graduated from Emerson College in Boston and how he took his own path.”
Mr Simmons interviewed with the president of the company in London and applied for a US working visa and soon found himself crossing the pond to link up with the New York office, where he produced media lists, press kit information and brief biographies, and learned the strategies for hosting successful events.
Among his favourite parts of the job are networking. He believes public relations is a vital component for any business to maintain and protect its reputation.
Meanwhile the company’s extensive list of contacts has opened up a whole new world of resources and information, enabling him to sell his product or service better and give his client a new way of looking at enhancing their offering.
Citing Mr Jones, his former calculus teacher Jahni Smith and former vice-headmistress Kathleen Wilson-Allers as his mentors, Mr Simmons plans to keep his options open as he embarks on his chosen career path.
Having interned in Milan for a travel agency in addition to his stint in New York, he believes that the experience he has gained will help him to be seen not just as a student from Bermuda but as someone who has gone it alone to learn from bigger societies how to make it to the top.
Echoing the advice of Shiona Turini, founder of Style Bermuda, Mr Simmons said the most important thing to remember was never to give up.
“I’ve always believed that more than wanting to hang with your friends or as hard as it sounds more than wanting to be with your family you have to want to make it to the top (family will always be there),” he said.
“I approach unpaid internships from the point of view that if this is what it takes to get my foot in the door it is up to me to rise to these companies’ standards. It is a mindset, coming to New York thinking like a Bermudian or like a Londoner would serve no purpose.
“There is a competitive nature here in New York. Everyone in the world is aware of New York’s cut-throat mentality, yet few are willing to sacrifice summers on the beach for unpaid summers in the office.
“Consistency yields results getting an internship last year would have been brilliant yet getting internship after internship proves to my employer once I graduate I was willing to sacrifice every free moment to continue to learn from anywhere I could. I would tell any Bermudian who wants to intern outside of Bermuda to read, read, read and oh read some more!
“Never stop reading during the day. We live in a world where connecting one topic to the next is becoming the new normal and how it will be expected. Approach your job in the mindset of ‘I want to take my supervisor’s job’. Read what they read, go to lunch where they go to lunch (even if all you order is water) if they make 9.30 and ask you to make 9.30 make 9.20. Always be ahead of the pack.”