Summer in the Magic City: Work and Life in Birmingham
Written by: Victoria Shelton
When I moved from Texas to Birmingham, I knew I was going to experience Southern hospitality and a culture deeply rooted in football during my time as a Samford student. Although I have been here more than three years now, my student schedule hasn’t allowed me to fully explore The Magic City and experience its emerging young professional scene.
As a rising college senior, I realized that I needed to get to know more about Birmingham to help clarify my post-grad plans and decide if this is the place to launch my career path, which led me to explore summer internship options at growing communications firms.
Reflecting on my summer as a Peritus public relations intern, I found the perfect balance working in and immersing myself in Birmingham’s thriving business culture. I have been able to experience the city by helping share the stories of small businesses, entrepreneurs and family-owned companies that are making a difference in this community, which has deepened my ties here. I am excited to share some of the things I have discovered during my internship, hoping that more young people will choose Birmingham as the city to kick start their careers.
My Peritus Internship
While I came to Peritus with a broad range of communications experience, this was my first internship focused solely on traditional public relations work. I gained specialized, real-world experience on a variety of projects in industries ranging from real estate and restaurant, to accounting and industrial. I learned the importance of intentional media pitching, effects of strategic digital outreach, influence of public affairs, value of branding and power of communication.
Of all the client projects I worked on, one of the most rewarding was with Latino News. Under the account leader’s supervision, I had the opportunity to develop angles for their story, draft media pitches and help secure media coverage. By the end of my internship, I helped secure coverage in AL.com, Business Alabama and an executive profile in the Birmingham Business Journal – three of the state’s largest media outlets. I worked closely with the account leader through every aspect of the campaign from client onboarding to the recap report – milestones most interns aren’t able to fully experience.
From day one, I learned the importance of regularly scanning news outlets and industry publications to stay informed on current events. Every morning when I get into the office and sit down with my coffee, I do an environmental scan to read the latest headlines. Without fail, I cross these four local publications off my list and will continue to keep up with them once my internship has ended:
If you are new to Birmingham or looking to work here someday, these publications may serve as helpful resources for you to keep up with issues affecting the city, growing businesses, prominent influencers and local events – there always seems to be compelling stories worth reading that connect to our clients and their industries.
My internship at Peritus offered me a flexible work schedule, which allowed me to explore more of Birmingham’s thriving culture.
Birmingham is a perfect blend of small-town feel with all the conveniences of a larger city. In the past year alone, the Magic City has been named one of Zagat's hottest food cities, Travel Channel's next great destinations and New York Times' places to visit in 2017.
Whether sampling dishes from around the world at the Pizitz Food Hall, hopping on a Zyp bike through Railroad Park or cooling down with a Steel City Pop, there is always something to do or see in Birmingham.
Here are some of my favorite ways to enjoy time off in the Magic City:
On any given Saturday morning, Pepper Place is the place to be. This farmer’s market was established in 2000 and has grown every year since, featuring a wide variety of food vendors, artisans, farmers and local makers. Look around and you’ll see a diverse mix of locals walking dogs, carrying mason jars of sweet tea and buying bouquets of fresh flowers.
When Pepper Place isn’t bustling with the market on Saturdays, it is a creative place for communicators, designers and artists to collaborate. Peritus is one of the businesses proud to call Pepper Place home on the third floor of the Dr. Pepper building. Between work and the farmer’s market, I have spent nearly every day of my summer here, but always seem to learn something new about emerging brands and innovators.
While Birmingham is not home to any major league baseball teams (and I still root for my Texas Rangers), a night out at Regions Field is the perfect way to enjoy a warm evening with friends. From 50-cent hot dogs to Friday night fireworks, a night out at the ballpark is always a worthwhile experience.
3. Hiking Trails
One of my favorite things about Birmingham is the abundance of hiking trails. Especially being from Texas, where the ground is flat as far as the eye can see, I love getting up into the hills surrounding Birmingham. Ruffner Mountain Nature Preserve, Red Mountain Park, Oak Mountain State Park and Moss Rock Preserve are all great options for day hikes with stunning views of waterfalls and overlooks.
4. Coffee Shops
Birmingham has such a wide variety of coffee shops that I’m convinced you could try a new one every week of the summer and still not see them all. Some of my favorites include Urban Standard, Church Street Coffee & Books, O’Henry’s, Octane and Seeds. However, my favorite would have to be The Red Cat. Located just across the street from Peritus in Pepper Place, it took everything in me not to run next door and grab a mocha frappe every day. Even before I interned at Peritus, I would visit The Red Cat to study and catch up with friends.
My PUBLISHED by Peritus takeaway is this:
Get outside your comfort zone. If you are a student still figuring out your passions, take risks and make the most of each opportunity that comes your way. Maybe that means taking a class you’re interested in just for fun. Maybe that means finding a mentor and getting professional advice from someone you admire. Maybe it’s applying for an internship in a new city.
I cannot imagine what my summer would have looked like without Peritus. In the time I have been here, Peritus secured multiple new clients, was named a Corporate Citizen finalist at the BBJ’s 2017 Nonprofit Awards and launched this blog – PUBLISHED by Peritus PR. There are so many memories that I would have missed out on had I not applied for a summer internship here. Peritus has a passion for investing in students and helping them succeed, and that is evident in the guidance I received from everyone on the team.
This is only a glimpse of what life as a young professional looks like in Birmingham, but it is a city on the rise that offers plenty for both business and entertainment. Interning with Peritus not only allowed me to see a different side of Birmingham, but I am now going into my senior year with a depth of work experience, a stronger sense of community and a network of mentors that I will carry with me through graduation and beyond.