INTERN INTERVIEW: Toshya Leonard

 

Toshya was the head of our Public Relations Department from September to February. She studied Public Relations at the University of Tennessee at Martin and graduated in December of 2015. She previously interned at Luxeart and currently works at Appalachian Action Underwriters Inc. (“We’re like the middleman between insurance agents and insurance. We make the bundles,” she explains, laughing. “I’ve learned so much about insurance since I started working here!”)

Throughout her time at Beloved Streets of America, she was always quick to offer ideas and suggestions whenever anyone asked for them. She worked directly with our founder Melvin White to implement the MLK $10 Challenge, designed our media kit, and mentored several other interns.

She’s one of the most organized, driven people I know and it was an honor to work with her.

  1. What attracted you to beloved streets of America?

The mission about cleaning up MLK streets, because I went to high school in Memphis and there was always this joke of “ if you go down MLK St., roll up your windows, lock your doors, because if you are white, you will not come back.” It always hurt my feelings because the hotel where he was shot is there. The park for MLK is there. But if you go down the street named after him, it’s like, “ why are we not honoring him here as well?”

 

  1. What was working for Beloved Streets of America like for you?

To be honest, I was familiar with online internships because I did one with Luxeart PR in Florida. The biggest difference here is there was more of a team effort because it’s so much more people and much more spread out. One thing I took away from our meetings was there was always so many different accents and different opinions

I really enjoyed working here. We get so much done for not being in the same room.

  1. What was one of your greatest challenges in working for Beloved Streets of America?

Time management, because I had just quit working for a preschool and me and my boyfriend were moving from Kentucky to Tennessee, looking for a house, so i was trying to do my 10 hours a week and visiting the house, getting estimates on renovations for the house, living in the house while it was being worked on and having to deal with everything that went with that…. I was also looking for a full time job, which I eventually found.

There was a lot of stuff going on. A whole bunch of adulting put into a few weeks.

  1. What’s one thing you wish someone would have told you before you started?

I would have liked to have known more about the former PR team because I know there were message boards and weekly results from them still up, but I never saw any former work. I saw BSA on CNN and St. Louis TV shows and on blogs, but I never saw any of the foot work that went on behind it. I never saw any former press releases.

I want my team to get a good footing for what I’ve done.  Not everything I do is right, but I want them to know that we have a format where we don’t have to do everything from scratch. It’s nice to see the background for what I’ve done even if they’re not doing it.

(She does MGE Corporate Blogging).

  1. What were some of your favorite things about working for Beloved Streets? What are you going to miss?

All the different people.

Learning about people in the ice breakers, a little more about people’s culture. What they liked to read, watch, write. You don’t get to do that in an office setting. Where I work, we’re there, we know each other, we laugh at each other’s jokes, but we don’t make any effort to get to know each other better.

Also, I learned how good I am in PR. Coming out of college, I didn’t find a job in PR. I worked at a marketing firm and they treated my like crap so I quit after a few weeks, then I worked at a preschool, which really wasn’t my area. PR has always been my drive–I like the writing, the publicity, the interacting with media,  so I love the growth I’ve experienced in working here. I think the job I have now is because of BSA, because right after they looked at my work samples–at least 5 of them were from BSA–they offered me the job. During the interview. They didn’t wait. After the lady got done questioning me, she looked at my work samples and was like “Okay, well, I want to go ahead and bring you on board…”

 

What’s one thing you would tell incoming INTERNs?

Manage your time well and take the internship seriously. There have been a lot who have come and gone because it is cyber and not face to face. Some think they can come in, watch Netflix for two hours, attend the team meeting, and just sign off. Any internship is offering you the chance to work on yourself for the real world. You don’t get that in college. You get the tools. An internship gives the chance to use them. If you don’t take the internship seriously, you stifle yourself from your growth.

 

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