When Sarah Nilson talks about her internship, she often receives confused looks and has to answer countless questions. Nilson works with toilets.
Since January 2013, Nilson, a senior in the public relations concentration with a second major in sociology, has worked as the public relations intern with local start-up company Sanitation Creations, which has been developing a waterless, odorless toilet called the Dungaroo.
The company’s tagline says they are working to “help the world, one toilet at a time.”
“I am proud of the company’s socially responsible vision that aims to ultimately help the 2.5 billion people around the world who don’t have access to adequate sanitation,” she says. “This socially responsible aspect is one of the things that really drew me to the company, regardless of my lack of previous knowledge about toilets.”
The Dungaroo uses specially lined plastic bags to kill odor-causing bacteria and turn what would be bio-hazardous material into regular waste that can be thrown out in any trash can.
“It’s my job to get the word out about the Dungaroo,” says Nilson. “I’ve had to learn a lot of technical jargon, write company material like employee handbooks, and even be an event planner.”
Nilson runs the company’s social media accounts, proofreads the material and content that goes on the website, and monitors the Sanitation Creations Indiegogo crowd funding campaign, producing all the public relations materials for the campaign, such as press releases, blog pitches and tweets.
Nilson is often asked how she got involved with Sanitation Creations. She attributes the opportunity to a guest speaker from a local public relations agency who visited her introduction to public relations class last fall. “I contacted him and he put me in touch with Liz Morris, CEO of Sanitation Creations, and within weeks I had become the intern for Sanitation Creations.”
Nilson has encountered numerous rewarding challenges that have allowed her to grow as both a student and public relations practitioner. “It has been a crazy, fun and sometimes scary experience working with a start-up company,” she says. “This internship has taught me a lot and gives me the opportunity to have input in the company and its brand. I am very grateful for the opportunity to be not ‘just an intern’ but a valued member of the team and the only public relations practitioner.”
This article by Communication major Nikki Stoudt first appeared in the CHASS Department of Communication newsletter.