PRofessionals in the Making

With summer coming to an end, our interns are headed back to school. While we will miss them, we’re excited for them to take some real-world experiences back to campus with them!

In honor of their last week in the office, we sat down and interviewed them about their time at Tonic this summer.

First, learn a little more:

  • Michael Milliken
    • Rising senior at Villanova University studying Marketing with a minor in Analytics
    • Fun fact? My mom played tennis with Tina Fey in high school!
  • Alexa Fabbri
    • Rising junior at Villanova University studying Communications with a Public Relations focus and minor in Sociology
    • Fun fact? I don’t get mosquito bites! (Did you know, there are people who have genetic alterations that allow them to avoid bites?!)
  • Alex Skinner
    • King’s College of London studying Biomedical Science
    • Fun fact? I’m a bit of an adrenaline junkie. I have done a skydive and am about to do a bungee jump!

Why healthcare communications?

  • Michael – My mom works in healthcare so I had an initial interest, then the opportunity to work specifically on analytics across the agency presented itself. This interest stood out – to see how the many parts of an agency come together across PR and measurement.
  • Alexa – My entire family has professional healthcare experience so I wanted to see if I would like it as well.
  • Alex – I love science, but don’t enjoy lab research. I thought healthcare communications would be a great way to stay in science, minus the lab coat.

What was your impression of Tonic on your first day?

  • Michael – At my last job, every day I made the coffee so when I saw the Keurig I thought, “what are they going to make me do?!”
  • Alexa – After I walked in and was introduced to everyone I sat down and just thought, “What now? What do you do for lunch?”
  • Alex – I thought I might just be making teas all day but it was in fact the complete opposite! Everyone was really lovely and helpful and couldn’t wait to get me involved in all their different projects.

What was the most interesting thing you learned from working at a PR agency?

  • Michael – I learned the teams all work together, always bouncing ideas off one another. Compared to other roles, the environment at a PR agency is more collaborative.
  • Alexa – I didn’t realize how many different disease states Tonic worked in. I always thought there would be a few that everyone focused on but every time I was handed a new project, it was a new disease!
  • Alex –  I really enjoyed leaning more about all the different drugs and diseases. I had no idea that Tonic would work on so many projects in one go so it was great to work on loads of different things during my time here.

What was your favorite thing you worked on in your time at Tonic?

  • Michael – I enjoyed gaining experiences from various databases and platforms that otherwise I would not have access to. I could use these tools to look into advocacy groups and read real patient stories. It was cool to see their stories and the large patient communities.
  • Alexa – My favorite thing was working on the pharma research and development side. It was meaningful and felt worthwhile to be part of something that could save a life or change the world in the future.
  • Alex – I really enjoyed the patient and consumer side of the work as everything I have done before has been very data focused, so it’s been great doing something so different.

What is your advice for others who are thinking about interning or careers in PR? 

  • Michael – A PR agency isn’t just PR! There is more to it than just writing and PR, a lot of work goes into the company to make it successful, so don’t discount the opportunity.
  • Alexa – To have an open mind! I had no idea what research & development was my first day but I have learned a ton, you never know what you’re going to learn and do!
  • Alex – PR is so much more than what you think it is. Every day is different and there is loads going on. I had no idea how much PR agencies actually did!

Any parting tips to future interns or classmates looking at internships?

  • Michael – Do your time sheet! And don’t sign up for too many Google alerts.
  • Alexa – Always check your emails!
  • Alex – If you want to get some experience don’t be scared to just email some companies and see if they have any internships available, that’s exactly how I got mine at Tonic!


A day in the life of the Tonic intern Jiaxu Guo

I can’t believe that my seven week internship at Tonic Life Communications has come to an end!

At the start, I was scared of the idea that I would be working in a PR firm in London. First of all, I’ve never worked in a PR firm; secondly, I’m not familiar with the British culture at all. Nonetheless, my fear disappeared immediately once I met my colleagues, who all welcomed me warmly.

I am seen as an account team assistant and my work includes a wide variety of tasks from collating coverage to undertaking research for upcoming events.

Before working for Tonic, I’ve only worked as a research assistant so PR feels very different from my past work experience! PR has demanded more from my time compared to being a research assistant and requires an efficient way of working so I learnt quickly that multitasking is key!  In my seven weeks here I have gained a lot of insights in to the PR industry.

Before starting work at Tonic, PR was a very abstract area to me seeing that, I didn’t  have any previous work experience in the industry. However, after working at Tonic for a few days, I started to realise that all the knowledge/skills that I gained at  University could be applied in my work here.

Having great mentors is the primary reason why I got so much out of my internship at Tonic. I’m amazed by the team’s diligent work attitude. It is obvious that everyone here loves their job.

No matter how tired or busy the team are, they are always enthusiastic about their work. I feel really lucky to have been able to work with such motivated, supportive and professional PR people.

A new thing that I’ve encountered while working here is the tea culture. I’m really surprised by the amount of tea they drink every day. Even though I’m from China, I feel like I can’t keep up with them! Moreover, people would make tea for me! In Asia an employee would never make tea for the intern. Instead, it is the intern’s responsibility to make tea for everyone.  I was quite surprised about the tea making ritual at the very beginning, but later I realised that it’s part of the Tonic culture.

I would describe my internship experience as fulfilling. I appreciate how patient my colleagues have been with me, and how much I’ve learned throughout the process.