My Experience as a Press Intern at the Pennsylvania Farm Show

By: Alyssa Murphree, February 1, 2017

As an equine media and communications major who has grown up attending the Pennsylvania Farm Show almost every year growing up, I couldn’t be more thrilled to discover an internship opportunity at one of my favorite events last November. I had just completed the Writing for Public Relations class here at DelVal, which made it the perfect time to put my new press release writing skills to the test. Finding out that I had been selected and hired by the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture for this position was such an exciting moment, as I knew this was a valuable experience heading into my career.

The Pennsylvania Farm Show takes place every January at the Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex in Harrisburg. It is the largest indoor agricultural exposition in the country and is home to tens of thousands of animals and competitive and commercial exhibits for one week. The complex is always abuzz with events such as livestock shows, rodeos, and other various contests. It is Pennsylvania’s pride and joy, as it truly shows the best of what the state’s agriculture industry has to offer.

Before I knew it, I was hauling my bags through the doors of the complex, game face on, camera memory card blank, and ready to go. Yes, interns even slept at the complex. With the long hours we were putting in, there was no point in leaving. Our new home for the week was the press office, located in the snazzy skybox overlooking the small arena where we watched livestock shows and auctions, rabbit hopping, and the sheep to shawl contest all from the comfort of our desk chairs.

Each intern was scheduled to cover events according to their prior knowledge and experience. For me, most of my week was spent attending equine demonstrations and shows but I also covered a few other events such as the antique tractor pull, sheep herding demo, and square dancing. A typical day consisted of reporting to the office at 8 each morning and looking at the schedule to see where I needed to be that day. Some events only required photographs to be taken but others needed a press release composed as well. Once at an event, I would find a spot (or spots) to take photographs, fighting with the temperamental complex lighting each step of the way, and just go wild shooting the event. There was no such thing as too many photos. If it was a competitive event, I would have to gather information to be able to identify the people in my photos to caption them accordingly. If I had to write a press release for the event, I needed to record results, interview people for quotes, and have enough knowledge to be able to write up a release with an accurate description of the event. Once the event ended, I would head back to the office to upload and sort through my photos, caption them, write up a press release, head to my next event, and repeat. I would usually return to the dorm between 9 and 10 at night, clocking in at least 13 hours of work each day.

In the end, despite the long hours, anxiety endured from meeting so many new people, and general disconnect from the outside world, interning at the Farm Show was an incredibly rewarding experience. I am now more confident in my skills as a photographer and writer and feel like I possess the ability to work in this type of environment after graduation. As someone who is usually intimidated by the concept of applying for opportunities like this, I encourage anyone who might feel the same way to try and imagine the positive outcomes instead.

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