Student Spotlight: Nicole Dickson

Nicole Dickson Competitive Edge Internship with Cincinnati mayor’s office provides priceless experience.

A competitive edge and the desire for hands-on experience in the real world before graduation led Nicole Dickson on a Google quest to find a phenomenal internship experience. Pursuing bachelor's degrees in psychology and communications, Dickson wanted to stand out as an applicant.

On the extracurricular side of her college experience, Dickson was the president of Students Today, Alumni Tomorrow (STAT) and served as the marketing chairperson of the Student Government Association. She was also a student blogger, a student representative for Executive Council, a member of LGBTQS Alliance, an Admissions Ambassador, and in 2010 she was Homecoming Queen.

As she neared her graduation, Dickson was looking for an internship that would give her that extra competitive edge.

A native of Eaton, Ohio, with an interest in politics, Dickson focused her interests to opportunities in the Cincinnati area.

On a whim, she typed in “Mayor Mallory internships” into the search engine. After weeks of waiting for a response, Dickson was invited to a first interview with the director of public affairs and the Mayor’s Constituent before earning a second interview with Cincinnati Mayor Mark Mallory.

The effort and wait paid off.

Dickson spent her summer as the communications intern for Mayor Mark Mallory. Her supervisor, director of Public Affairs Jason Barron, provided her daily assignments.

Every Monday through Friday, Dickson would drive from her home to Plum Street in Cincinnati to search for a parking spot near City Hall. From her street-level office overlooking the inner courtyard of the Romanesque City Building, Dickson would work on assignments that included informing the media about upcoming events for the mayor, writing speeches for ribbon cuttings and groundbreaking ceremonies, and acting as a contact for CitiCable, the city’s television channel. She was also privileged to be given the job of contacting the media in regard to a letter the mayor sent to the White House urging both Democrats and Republicans to come to a compromise on the U.S. debt ceiling.

During a working luncheon with the mayor, Dickson was assigned project manager for the “Day in the Life” video of Mayor Mallory. Dickson said, “Viewers will have the opportunity to see the rewards and challenges of the mayor’s job. It is obvious the mayor takes pride in leading the great City of Cincinnati.”

The interns working in the mayor’s office were put to work in the thick of the action. They attended staff meetings, worked alongside the mayor, and coordinated projects to their interests. Dickson said the interns felt what they had to say, mattered.

Mallory said Dickson was a part of one of the most talented groups of interns with which he has worked. He added Dickson was fantastic and a hard worker.

“She really understood the comprehensive nature of the projects she was assigned and the full value of everything we were trying to do,” Mallory said. “Whether she worked independently or within the group, she nailed every project, every time. I’m very proud of her.”

The experience not only provided the hands-on learning opportunities Dickson sought, but also close connections and networking opportunities with professionals in a career that interests her.

“I am very close with the interns from my group. We have become family. On Fridays we would go out for intern lunch. It was a lot of fun. The friendships I developed made my amazing summer experience even better,” Dickson said.

The internship provided Dickson with invaluable job skills and experience. Dickson said the fast pace of the office left no room for self-doubt. Her biggest challenge, she added, was overcoming the second-guessing of herself, but it led to an increase in her self-confidence and her ability to learn new skills quickly.

“I left City Hall every day with a new piece of information. In addition, I felt like everything I did was important. I was thrown into the middle of everything from the first week. By week two, I was writing the mayor’s speeches. I feel like you cannot put a price on that type of experience,” Dickson said.

Even though she has graduated and is well into her career, Dickson still takes opportunities to share her experience with students and alumni. Dickson sees the unique, mutually beneficial position that IU East alumni are in to provide students a valuable real-world experience.

“I can say that students have the opportunity to speak to those who were once in their shoes. That is quite a stress-reliever for many students as they often forget that others share the same experiences as them,” Dickson said. “Students are also given the chance to ask questions and learn about their particular field. Lastly, I cannot forget to mention: networking, networking, networking! Working with alumni gives students the chance to make strong connections to those who may have advice on how to get where you want to be.” “Making the most of my experience was a huge deal to me. I uprooted my life to a totally different city. I did not even know where I was going to live until a week before my internship started,” Dickson said. “It was definitely nice to be surrounded by down-to-earth people who want to help you succeed.”

Internship with Cincinnati mayor’s office provides priceless experience.