Intern Diaries: Mandy Blain at SXSW

Mandy Blain

With a cup of hot tea in hand, Mandy Blain explains how she has found the perfect balance between work and play at her internship. As a senior public relations and advertising major from Friendswood, Texas, Blain spends her final year at The University of Texas at Austin interning for a company she has always admired. She is the assistant to the PR head at South by Southwest (SXSW), which is much more than the typical coffee-running internship. Blain gives a look inside the day-to-day grind, how UT has prepared her and what to look forward this year at SXSW.

How did you find this job?

I emailed Jody Arlington (the head of PR for SXSW) and asked if she needed an intern. It never hurts to be bold, I think!

What was the biggest learning curve for you at SXSW?

Learning how to use the specific programs and applications that they use to organize the attendees for the festival. I had to organize pictures of the festivals archived back to the 90’s. I have never navigated through such massive amounts of files before, so it was tricky before I got the hang of it.

What has been the most fun part as an intern?

Definitely the work environment. You won’t see anyone dressed in a suit or high heels. The entire office is very laid back, which provides a comfortable and joyful place for people to come to work hard. Everyone is friendly and talkative, and the office floors are set up in a way that allows creative ideas and conversations to flow freely.

Where is your go-to lunch break spot?

Everyday I walk to Whole Foods! SXSW headquarters is across the street from the Flagship store on Lamar.

What previous classes have been the most helpful for you in this internship?

Social Media with Wilcox, Media Planning with Dobias, and PR Techniques with Junker have taught me a lot of real-world tools.

What is the biggest mistakes you've made on the job?

Hmm...Maybe talking too much or asking too many questions. I’d like to think I haven’t messed up too bad yet!

What are your best interview tips?

Just be confident and genuine! Try not to say “like” or “um”... but just be positive and open to learning new things. You don’t have to act like you have it all together.

Has this internship helped you see what you want in a full-time job?

Absolutely. I want to work with creative thinkers who are open to change and passionate about their job - just like the employees at SXSW.

Best perks?

Getting to attend the entire SXSW festival, duh!

Who are you most excited to see perform at the festival this year?

Duncan Fellows. They are a band of guys from UT and have been great for years, but it will be fun to see them on this platform. Look for them on the lineup!

Caroline Richardson
Original Content Team