Comms, Cubs, and Chicago Pizza: Catching up with former intern Katherine Lee

Last month, we wrote about the unique nature of 3Points internships, and we caught up with our former intern Meredith Brumfield, who worked at 3Points for three summers between 2012 and 2014. Since that time, we’ve expanded our intern program even further, as we had multiple interns in the office for the first time this spring. Our winter intern from Northwestern, Adam, decided to continue helping us through the spring, and fellow Northwestern junior Anthony joined us for the quarter as well.

As such, it was a natural time to check back in with Katherine Lee, our first intern from Northwestern. Katherine interned with us during the summer of 2015, between her sophomore and junior years, and is now a consultant at FTI Consulting Strategic Communications in New York. Read on to hear about what she learned at 3Points, what she’s been up to since then, and how she compares New York and Chicago.

It was pretty straightforward. I remember searching “boutique PR firms Chicago” — I found the 3Points site and I really liked the layout and the content. (I later learned you had recently redone the site.)

Looking through the team bios, I noticed Sam [Svoboda] had a journalism background like I had, so I decided to reach out to him. We had a coffee chat downtown, and he introduced me to Drew, and that’s how I joined for the summer.

I graduated from Northwestern in August 2017 with both my bachelor’s and master’s degrees — Northwestern has an accelerated master’s program. Technically, I was done with my BA at the end of my junior year, so I kind of graduated early and went into my master’s program. The master’s was still in journalism, but it was business journalism.

I had a few other internships after 3Points, which gave me a lot of different insights and experiences within communications. One was with [former 3Points client] FW: Chicago, which is now Chicago Woman magazine. I interned with Weber Shandwick, and then I had a summer internship with FTI Consulting in New York, which is where I’m at now after joining full-time last September.

FTI Consulting is a global management consulting firm with segments in a number of different areas, including corporate finance, strategic communications, forensics, litigation, and technology. I’m part of the strategic communications team, and what I do now is similar to what 3Points does — our job is to help companies enhance their reputation and ultimately reach their business goals through effective communication with their stakeholders.

I definitely remember the social media project I did, where I went with Sam and Lorna to give a presentation on how to be a “brand ambassador” for your company. Of course, as a journalism student, I knew the dos and don’ts of Twitter, but I had never considered all the things employees need to think about before they tweet. It was also the first time I got to go to a client site, so overall it was a rewarding experience.

I also designed the flyer that we used for that project, which was one of a number of small design projects I had that summer. Although those projects weren’t what I expected from a PR internship, I thought it was really interesting to experiment with how my design skills could turn plain information into a form of visual storytelling.

More generally, as an intern, I got to work on a lot of the back-end parts of running an agency, like creating expense reports and organizing various internal things. I’ve interned at larger firms as well, and you don’t always how the many different parts of the business come together.

I went to my first Cubs game with the 3Points team — it was part of a client event. Lorna, Drew, and Will were there, and they had to explain everything to me because I didn’t know anything about baseball. Actually, Chicago had a lot of sports achievements that happened while I was there — I also fondly remember going to the Blackhawks’ Stanley Cup parade with the whole team. That was one of the perks of working at boutique firm: I got to know everyone well, and it felt like I was part of the family by the end of the summer.

Katherine Lee (far left) and the 3Points team at the 2015 Chicago Blackhawks Stanley Cup parade

I love it! Because I’m from Seoul, I always feel more comfortable in bigger cities. In college, I always felt more at home in Chicago than Evanston. New York is an even busier city than Chicago — I like that aspect of it. It’s a very bustling, crowded city with a lot of people from different cultures and countries. As someone from somewhere else, it’s always nice to see what everyone’s bringing to the city.

To be honest, I like Chicago pizza better than New York pizza, so I won’t recommend any pizza places here. [Editor’s Note: We told you our interns are smart.]

There is a very nice restaurant called Alta, in the West Village — they do Mediterranean tapas. It has a pretty interior — it’s a 3–4 story townhouse that was converted to a restaurant, with paintings on the walls, so it has its own story — and the food is really good.

I also recommend checking out Koreatown in New York. Chicago is a great eating city as well, but Korean food was the one thing I wish it had more of — New York has a huge Koreatown, with a whole street full of restaurants.

I try to think about them on two fronts: professional and personal. Professionally, even though I’ve been in this field for a short time, I see myself working in communications long-term. I want to be a trusted advisor for companies so they can learn the importance of communications in any situation. I remember as a journalism major, I loved hearing about other people’s stories — now I want to help companies tell their own stories.

On a personal level, I want to become a trusted colleague and mentor to people. All of my internship experiences came from cold-calling people I found online and asking for advice, and I was lucky to find internships I liked and people who cared about my success. Right now, I’m still building up different skills in communications, but I would love to give back to people I work with or anyone out there — students who reach out to me for advice.

As an international student, I was often trying to find my way and always appreciated it when people shared their experiences and advice, so helping others in the same way is definitely a goal I’m always thinking about.

Katherine Lee (bottom right) with her colleagues at FTI Consulting

PR & Communications for Fintech & Chicago Tech. www.3ptscomm.com

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