Q&A: Our Summer with Peritus

At PERITUS, we share a commitment to move our state forward. Part of this mission is investing in the future of our industry – students. With our city central to some of the top public relations programs in the nation, opportunities to invest in students and foster their growth are plentiful especially when two talented students choose to spend their summer at Peritus.

We have been fortunate to gain the support of two dynamic and well-rounded interns who are AP Style gurus, media relations machines and social media aficionados. We couldn’t think of a better way to cap off their summer than by chatting with them about their summer experience, passions and where they’re heading next. 

Bella Tylicki is a senior studying public relations and political science with a minor in philosophy at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. She is president of PRCA/PRSSA and the Panhellenic Council and chief of staff for the Undergraduate Student Government Association. Bella is a big fan of La Croix, Glossier, the Birmingham food scene and her dog, Apollo.

Victoria Black is a senior studying public relations with a minor in history at Auburn University. An Athens native, Victoria serves as PRSSA and PRCA chapter president and is a huge football fan, big sister, cat person, classic rock lover and latte connoisseur.

Q: Bella, you currently live in Birmingham and attend UAB. What drew you to the Magic City?

B: I moved to Birmingham three years ago, entering my freshman year at UAB. At the time, I thought that when I graduated, I would grab my diploma, walk off the stage and just keep walking until I’d left Alabama in the dust.

Since then, I’ve fallen in love with Birmingham. I’ve found that it’s a happy medium on a variety of spectrums, a city that offers a lot to young professionals like me. Not too big. Not too small. Not too close to home (for me, Huntsville). Not too far. High quality of life. Low cost of living. It’s easy to be involved in the goings-on of the city no matter your budget (for me, that of a college student).

The things I love most about Birmingham are its past and its potential. Birmingham embraces its history as an anchor of the civil rights movement and seizes its future as a Silicon Valley of the South, with a booming inclusive economy. And the food scene is definitely a plus.

Q: Victoria, we were happy to steal you away from Auburn for the summer. What’s been your favorite thing about Birmingham so far?

V: There is always something to do in Birmingham. The city is full of areas to explore and so many restaurants and attractions to visit. I only hope I get to visit them all. Some of my favorite spots so far are Red Cat Coffee, Aero Joe Pilates, The Rougaroux and the Pepper Place Farmers Market.

Q: We are fortunate to snag you both for the summer, but why Peritus?

B: My last few internships were in the public sphere at City Halls in Huntsville and Birmingham, so I wanted to try something new: agency life. As a PR and poli-sci student, Peritus’ public affairs team just felt like a good fit for me. Not many firms around here offer a PA niche.

What sealed the deal, though, was the company culture. Something just clicked in my interview. It was like one of those first dates that make you feel like you’ve known each other for years. I knew after getting to know everyone and realizing our shared vision for Alabama that I wanted to spend my summer working with this team.

V: I was initially drawn to Peritus’of vision to connect communities for a brighter Alabama. As an Alabama native, I have always been interested in the economic development and societal progression of our state. I saw working with Peritus as an opportunity to immerse myself in Alabama’s public relations industry and contribute my work to the benefit of the state. Also, with such an experienced team, I knew I would grow immensely this summer with their mentorship.

Q: What does your typical day look like as a Peritus intern?

B: What I love about interning at Peritus is that there really is no “typical” day. The key elements tend to stay the same day-to-day, lots of research and writing, but I get to be involved in a variety of projects for different clients. Some of my favorite opportunities have been writing press releases and drafting op-eds.

The whole team is really hands-on and collaborative which creates a fun atmosphere in the office and makes for a great learning environment. They’re super intentional about keeping the interns in the loop. It’s really fulfilling to have a seat at the table instead of making coffee runs.

V: Every day is a little bit different. As a public relations intern, I support the PR department in any area of need – from media relations and creative design to conducting research and brainstorming creative projects. I appreciate that the team has given me opportunities to contribute and expand my portfolio in a variety of diverse projects.

Rather than filing papers or picking up lunch, I am helping the PR team provide support for a wide range of clients. Peritus’ internship has truly shaped me into a better PR professional.

Q: What is the most interesting thing you’ve learned at Peritus that they don’t teach in school?

B: That a good culture fit is critically important to finding the right internship or job. I was simply taught that my skills should match the demands of the job. I should make myself immediately indispensable (…duh).

Yes, it’s important that my resume has no typos and that I nail the interview, but it’s just as important that I consider whether or not my values and disposition align with the organization. A job is more than its description. I am more than my resume. And I need to have the self-awareness to be able to communicate that to potential employers.

V: Peritus has taught me the importance of immersing yourself into the environment and community around you. Being new to the Magic City, it takes effort to familiarize myself with the culture, food and entertainment of Birmingham.

However, the team has taught me just how important this is to a well-rounded professional. With a better understanding of the environment and culture, a professional is better prepared to make educated decisions for the client. Who knew going out for brunch in Avondale was so important?

Q: Ok, now for a few more personal questions. What’s your ideal Saturday?

B: Sleep in. Brunch on the patio at The Essential. Sprawl out on a blanket with a good book at Railroad Park. Stop by Big Spoon Creamery for a scoop (or two) of one of their unique flavors. Visit the (free) art museum, or, if I’ve got some disposable income, shop local at Square One Goods, Trove and Yellowhammer Creative. Head back over to Parkside for “brewga” (yoga + beer) at Good People. Dinner somewhere fancy like Bottega, Chez Fon Fon or Highlands. Coincidentally, one of my favorite bands (maybe The Head and the Heart?) is playing Iron City tonight. I’m front row. After the show, AI’s. Always AI’s.

V: My ideal Saturday is waking up to a brunch with family and friends. Preferably at a restaurant with great buttermilk pancakes and a lot of coffee. Afterwards, we would head to the Pepper Place farmers market, sports game or local event that I’ve never been to before. To me, there is almost nothing more fun than exploring unfamiliar places and having new experiences with family and friends. I would end the day at a great live music venue for that perfect cherry on top.

Q: One last question that, in our opinion, provides the best insight into your personality. What’s your go-to Red Cat order?

B: Black iced coffee. Or, if I’m treating myself, chai latte with oat milk. With a gluten-free pumpkin chocolate chip muffin, of course.

V: A hot Persian latte. As a self-proclaimed cat lady, I can’t resist anything remotely cat related.

Our PUBLISHED by Peritus takeaway is this:

An internship is so much more than class credit or a paycheck – it is an opportunity to build and diversify your skillset. An opportunity to learn skills that aren’t taught in the classroom like networking, civic engagement or client relations. Internships are more than resume builders or letters of recommendation, it’s an opportunity to test drive a company culture or job role to find the right fit when you’re ready to launch a career.