Today we are going to get to know, Peppercomm intern Gisselle Trochez!

Gisselle InternTell us about yourself—where did you/do you go to school, where are you from and what brought you to Peppercomm? 

Hi, I’m Gisselle! I graduated from Biola University in Southern California this past May, where I studied Business Marketing. I proudly share the same birthplace with the very average Frank Sinatra – Hoboken, New Jersey. Honestly, you really can’t find two places that starkly contrast each other as much as Southern California and Northern New Jersey do, but I’m glad to have spent 4 years in (my idea of) paradise. While many think I’m crazy for not staying in California, I couldn’t stay away from the best pizza (and city) on earth.

I found out about Peppercomm through Sam Bruno, a Manager of Client Relations here at PC and also a friend of mine. For years she’d always talk about how much she loved her job (mostly via her #ilovemyjob hashtag on insta), and so when she told me about an open intern position, I was excited to look into it. From the research I did on the work Peppercomm does and their company culture, it seemed like a great first step in my career.

When you’re not hard at work at Peppercomm, what do you like to do?

As an introverted extrovert, I genuinely enjoy spending time on my own, but ultimately rather be surrounded by people. When I’m on my own, I nerd out a whole lot. I love design, tech, and start-ups, so I tend to read-up on these topics. I also like to be hands-on with my interests, so aside from reading I mess around on the Adobe Creative Suite, my drone/camera, and the like. When with people I either want to be exploring old/new towns, or sitting on the couch for hours on end watching Netflix. You either get super high-energy or super-chill with me, really no in-between.

What area of the industry do you find the most appealing and why?

Maybe it’s my marketing research background, but I really love doing research (which might sound like the most boring aspect to most, understandably). I’ve had to do some in-depth research that ranged from bizarre food trends to innovation in technology, all to which make me a bit more entertaining and knowledgeable at parties and hangouts. And on a more serious note that applies more to my career and less to impact on personal life – I think research is the most critical piece to strategizing across all industries, so I always think it’s important to practice doing it well. I always think it’s cool to know that my research was the basis of an initiative.

Any surprises or revelations about your role, the industry or Peppercomm?

I’ve been pleasantly surprised to be treated like a real team member – what I get to do is important to the objectives of the client and the other team members rely on me for it. I’ve never felt like what I’m doing is unimportant ‘intern’ work, everything has been a great opportunity to learn.

Where do you see yourself going in the industry?

Working at Peppercomm further solidified how much I enjoy doing research and strategy. Aside from PR projects, I got the cool opportunity to work with the measurement team on a marketing project for a big client here which allowed me to take a bunch of data and use it to tell a story as well as create strategic recommendations. I will most likely take a more marketing-heavy tract from here on out, but I wouldn’t trade my newly acquired PR brain for anything. I’m always a fan of learning different perspectives.

Pro-tip for future interns: don’t be afraid to talk to someone about any different interests you may have! I set up coffee with the Director of Marketing here, Alena Caras, simply just to hear about what she does and what marketing at an agency looks like. Less than a week later I was requested to help out with the marketing project. Use that voice!

Intern Lightning Round Questions:  

  • Netflix or Hulu?  Netflix but Hulu’s my go-to for my 90’s shows
  • Text or Call? Text
  • Coffee or Tea? Coffee
  • Dogs or Cats? I’m half and half on this. Having a cat that’s actually good will do that to you
  • NYC or San Francisco? NYC forever
  • Star Wars or Star Trek? Star Trek
  • Crunchy or smooth peanut butter? Smooth
  • Mac or PC? I’m definitely part of the Apple cult, so, Mac
  • Sweetened or Unsweetened Tea? Sweetened
  • Nickelodeon or Cartoon Network? Honestly, so so difficult – I have to say Nickelodeon on the basis that it gave me less nightmares (*cough cough* Courage the Cowardly Dog).
  • Chocolate or Vanilla? Vanilla
  • Seltzer or Water? Water
  • Cake or Pie? Funfetti cake
  • Tacos or Pizza? Pizza. “Time is money, money is power, power is pizza, pizza is knowledge.”
  • Hogwarts House? Slytherin (and proud)

 

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Today we are going to get to know, Peppercomm intern Samantha Derderian!

Sam InternTell us about yourself—where did you/do you go to school, where are you from and what brought you to Peppercomm? 

Hallo! I’m Samantha. I originally hail from the Boston suburbs, where I grew up playing soccer in the fall, skiing in the winter, and performing in plays and musicals in the spring. I am a phenomenally well-rounded individual.

Moving on, I recently graduated from the tiny liberal arts school, Connecticut College. At Conn, I was a Film Major with and English and Psychology minor. I like to say that I created my own Communications major. This is not true, but I like to say it.

Though it would not be a lie to say that I stumbled upon Peppercomm. Searching for summer internships, I was tipped onto Peppercomm by a family friend. Enthralled after one visit to the company website, I hastily applied to the Summer 2016 Internship session—one month past the deadline. However, the team I spoke with was so kind and informative that I never forgot Peppercomm. And here I am, more than a year later.

When you’re not hard at work at Peppercomm, what do you like to do?

When I am not at Peppercomm, I can be found in my apartment where my roommates are telling me to go outside. If I put Netflix away, I like to stroll around in my neighborhood. I recently moved to the upper east side and there are a surprising number of bars, restaurants and local shops that I have yet to discover. I also tend to travel on the weekends. Growing and going to school in the Northeast, I have a lot a friends in surrounding States and I am slowly visiting them all. However, all these extravagant plans entirely depend on my willingness to not be lazy.

What area of the industry do you find the most appealing and why?

I am working on a crisis account and I really enjoy the pace the account requires. With a fast pace, it feels like I am actively contributing to a company’s image. Furthermore, the account revolves around a social issue, so I have become quite embedded in the politics of a few small towns. I was almost a Government minor until I took a class that was basically “Intro to Law School” which stopped me in my tracks, so I actually enjoy the local political jargon. Because of my interest in politics coupled with the speed at which the account moves, I get a lot from the account.

Any surprises or revelations about your role, the industry or Peppercomm?

Particularly at Peppercomm, I was surprised by how integrated we interns are. Everything from the job posting to past reviews explain how entrenched interns are in the work. I did not believe it until I was living it. We are very valued here, and who doesn’t like to be valued?

Another revelation I had a long time ago but I still think is worth wild to point out: PR is nothing like what Samantha does on Sex and the City.

Where do you see yourself going in the industry?

I could see myself going anywhere in the industry. I would be interested to try the in-house route, just to say that I have done it all. Personally, I think I am too young to claim I know where I want go in the industry. I’ll go where the industry takes me. I’m wise like that. I like to think.

Intern Lightning Round Questions:  

  • Netflix or Hulu?  Netflix.
  • Text or Call? Call.
  • Coffee or Tea? Iced Coffee.
  • Dogs or Cats? Cats—they just like me more.
  • NYC or San Francisco? NYC.
  • Star Wars or Star Trek? Star Wars.
  • Crunchy or smooth peanut butter? I literally find the taste and smell of peanut butter nauseating.
  • Mac or PC? Mac.
  • Sweetened or Unsweetened Tea? …Coffee.
  • Nickelodeon or Cartoon Network? Cartoon Network—Code Name Kids Next Door!
  • Chocolate or Vanilla? Vanilla.
  • Seltzer or Water? Water.
  • Cake or Pie? Cake.
  • Tacos or Pizza? Taco pizza—I have had it and am forever changed.
  • Hogwarts House? Hufflepuff, but Buzzfeed’s combo quiz says I’m a ~Huffledor~

 

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Today we are going to get to know, Peppercomm intern Katie Skelly!

Katie intern picTell us about yourself—where did you/do you go to school, where are you from and what brought you to Peppercomm? 

Hey y’all! My name is Katie and I am a recent graduate from the College of Charleston (CofC) where I majored in Communications and minored in Film Studies. I was born and raised a southerner in Lexington, South Carolina, but I will always tell people I am from Charleston because that place feels the most like home (secret is out, don’t tell anyone).

I have always been interested in any kind of media, though entertainment media holds a special place in my heart and, at times, an obsession. I think it is fascinating that there are so many things that go on behind the curtain. From the intriguing articles we read, the broadcast segments we glue our eyes to and different companies that work together to create the TV shows & films we watch. I was first introduced to PR during my first internship at the end of my junior year of college, which focused on the in-house side of PR. I knew I wanted to focus more on strategic media operations, so when I graduated PR was a direction I knew I wanted to pursue.

I heard about Peppercomm through my school. Steve Cody and Ted Birkhahn would visit the College of Charleston frequently because they were on the CofC Advisory Council for the Communication Department. The reputation of Peppercomm was clear on campus and when my professor and mentor Beth Goodier urged me to apply for its internship, I knew I had to go for it. It is one of the boldest moves I have made and will never regret it.

What better place to pursue PR than in one of the biggest cities the world?

When you’re not hard at work at Peppercomm, what do you like to do?

Before coming to Peppercomm, I had never been to New York City. Now I love getting to continually go out and explore all the different opportunities this booming city has to offer. I love that you can wander the streets of New York and find a place you have never been before or maybe witness a person performing on the street.

Being a huge lover of film, I always make it a point to try and go to the cinema. New York always has niche film events going on every week, so there are a lot of options. I love going to bookstores with my friends to pick up the next gripping novel and finding new places to eat because I am a lover of food.

I love to write, so in my spare time I’m brainstorming my future masterpiece of a screenplay that I want Baz Luhrmann or David Fincher to direct (a girl can dream). Though, my greatest passion that I hope to get to do more of is travelling. Just like New York has thousands of opportunities, there are so many other places I want to visit and experience. Ever since I studied abroad during undergrad, I have developed a wanderlust, so I am always planning for my next adventure.

What area of the industry do you find the most appealing and why?

I love the media relations side of PR. Getting to reach out to top tier outlets and getting a response can be exciting, even more so when they are interested in what your client has to offer. It makes all the times you have been turned down or left without a response worthwhile.

I also really enjoy research and reporting. Given that I am a certified social media stalker, as many of my friends put it, I love getting to do any kind of audit or research pertaining to background on a competitor for a client.

Any surprises or revelations about your role, the industry or Peppercomm?

This is my first PR Agency job, so I have been able to witness firsthand how people who work in PR are some of the most innovative and diligent people you will ever meet. PR can be a thankless job at times, but everyone here at Peppercomm manages to celebrate every win and support one another when times can get tight. In such a fast-paced, constantly shifting environment, it is neat to witness Peppercomm as an agency that not only takes the heavy load, but does it as a team.

I love getting to work with multiple groups of people. I always knew that in a professional role you will always be working with some sort of team, but at Peppercomm I work with up to 7 different teams! It can be refreshing and exciting because everyone always takes a different perspective and brings different ideas to the client.

Where do you see yourself going in the industry?

I still am not exactly sure, but that is the fun of it! This industry is constantly changing, so I am trying to keep an open mind when it comes to future endeavors. However, one day I know I would love to be involved in some sort of strategic communication role for a film distribution or production company and combine my two passions.

Intern Lightning Round Questions:  

  • Netflix or Hulu?  Netflix
  • Text or Call? Call
  • Coffee or Tea? Coffee
  • Dogs or Cats? Dogs. I love them so much that I have started my own #doggosofNYC hashtag on Snapchat. Hopefully one day it will catch on.
  • NYC or San Francisco? NYC, though I would love to check out San Francisco
  • Star Wars or Star Trek? STAR WARS….and Han Solo shot first!
  • Crunchy or smooth peanut butter? I grew up crunchy, but lately I have realized my love for smooth
  • Mac or PC? Mac.
  • Sweetened or Unsweetened Tea? I am a southerner, so you would think sweet. However, I prefer unsweetened.
  • Nickelodeon or Cartoon Network? Nickelodeon, though I have to give Cartoon Network a shoutout because Scooby Doo was my favorite show growing up.
  • Chocolate or Vanilla? Chocolate everything, except chocolate ice cream.
  • Seltzer or Water? Regular H20.
  • Cake or Pie? CAKE.
  • Tacos or Pizza? TACOS.
  • Hogwarts House?  Ravenclaw and proud.

 

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Today we are going to get to know, Peppercomm intern Justin Deringer!

mypic (002)Tell us about yourself—where did you/do you go to school, where are you from and what brought you to Peppercomm? 

I am Justin Deringer, born and raised in Brooklyn, New York. I just graduated from Hunter College in May with a BA in Statistics. Now, I am going back there for my MA while interning at Peppercomm. A friend of mine who works at Peppercomm recommended the company and now here I am! I figured it was a good fit since I interned at a social media marketing agency earlier in the year and I liked what I did. Now that I am here, I am learning more about the industry and improving my skills as well.

When you’re not hard at work at Peppercomm, what do you like to do?

I love to swim and be anywhere around water. My favorite vacation destinations are always at places with nice beaches and great snorkeling. I’ve spent my last 6 summers lifeguarding at Coney Island beach and although it was boring much of the time, I thoroughly enjoyed every summer there. Snorkeling is horrendous at Coney Island, but whenever I had the time, I would still take my gear out and try to see whatever I can. I bet you will be surprised to hear that there is actually a lot out there! I’ve seen puffer fish, huge snails, starfish, so many types of crabs, lobsters, sharks, a turtle, a sting ray and even a whale!

What area of the industry do you find the most appealing and why?

I think it is incredible how much information is out there to be used for analysis. People don’t realize how much about them is actually going online and being collected. On the Research & Analytics team, we have access to many tools that allow us to access this information. With it, we can gather impressive insights about many companies and individuals. Then we take those insights to make plans and strategies for clients that can potentially influence millions. And all that is done by just a few people from behind a desk!

Any surprises or revelations about your role, the industry or Peppercomm?

The amount of candy they let us eat is insane! But really, what impresses me the most is how adept everyone is at their jobs in an industry that is still so new and maturing. One thing that surprises me is how loyal Peppercomm’s employees are to the company. In this industry, it is my understanding that it is normal for people to jump jobs frequently. However, at Peppercomm, I am meeting people who have worked here for so many years, long enough to work their way up from intern to director. That is some real dedication. It is great that Peppercomm rewards dedication like that. I know that many other companies don’t respect their loyal employees as they should.

Where do you see yourself going in the industry?

As of right now, I don’t know what the future holds for me. I am definitely enjoying my time here at Peppercomm and working in the industry and it would be a tremendous privilege to continue doing so. However, like with anything, it is important to keep an open mind and take things as they come.

Intern Lightning Round Questions:  

  • Netflix or Hulu?  Never used either
  • Text or Call?  Call
  • Coffee or Tea? Tea
  • Dogs or Cats? Dogs. Cats are bad
  • NYC or San Francisco?  NYC
  • Star Wars or Star Trek? Never cared for either
  • Crunchy or smooth peanut butter? Smooth, but any peanut butter is great!
  • Mac or PC?  PCMR
  • Sweetened or Unsweetened Tea? Sweetened
  • Nickelodeon or Cartoon Network? When I was a kid, Nick. But now, Cartoon Network
  • Chocolate or Vanilla? Vanilla
  • Seltzer or Water? Water is my favorite drink of all time
  • Cake or Pie? Every year, I ask my parents for a birthday pie instead of cake. Pie is so much better
  • Tacos or Pizza? Tacos
  • Hogwarts House? Pottermore tells me I am a Hufflepuff

 

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For the past six summers, the pool has been my second home. Lifeguard shifts, nannying, coaching a swim team and my own swim practices kept me there from sun-up to sun-down. This summer, however, I was ready to give up the chlorine burn and hyperactive children to challenge myself with an internship in the PR industry.

Shown above is a typical post-swim meet ritual. After a big win, the children push all the coaches into the pool. I somehow managed to always be the first one pushed in.

Shown above is a typical post-swim meet ritual. After a big win, the children push all the coaches into the pool. I somehow managed to always be the first one pushed in.

 

This is my first real-world, intern experience. Ever. I guess you can call me a newbie at the cubical-lifestyle. Walking into the building on my first day, I had no real baseline of what to expect. Snippets of conversations from my interviews and stories from friends of their own experiences (both good and bad) jumbled in my head. As the elevator doors opened on the fourth floor, I had no idea how this experience would unfold.

Looking back to that first day, a lot has changed in these past few months. I am happy to report that the reality of my internship experience has surpassed my expectations, which was, quite frankly, a relief.

 

Expectation number one: Coffee runs and making copies

I left my interview assured of the many responsibilities I would encounter on the job. Yet, I had no bench mark on what “many” constituted. My friends always complained about their grunt work and never ending errands. I had no idea how much responsibility to expect.

The reality is though, within the first week of work, I was elbow-deep in excel spread sheets and analytics. My team treated me as a true member and not just an intern. I’ve enjoyed contributing to the quarterly reports and conducting industry research for presentations.

 

Expectation number two: “You’ll figure it out.”

Everyone has heard the horror stories of someone showing up for a job to a stack of assignments and no guidance. Would I have to be an expert in Boolean operations or programming excel by day one? I prepared to make Google Search my best friend for the next three months.

My coworkers have been nothing but helpful and encouraging during these past few months. I have yet to dive into a project unprepared and told, “figure it out.” My endless questions are always answered and feedback given to encourage my professional growth.

 

Expectation number three: The Dreaded Intern Corner

I have heard of internship programs with an invisible wall between them and the full-time employees. Stationed in a separate area, interns tackle endless case studies and busywork rather than client-work.

While there is an intern row, there is also an abundance of communication between interns and the rest of the office. (I should also note that I sit with the research and insights team, and not even in intern row.) We are members of teams, we sit on client calls and our mentors encourage us to provide input. Peppercomm is a close-knit community with comradery across all levels of leadership.

 

Expectation number four: Regurgitating Lectures

My biggest misconception of what to expect, was the skillsets I would be utilizing. I brushed up on my business and marketing lectures and prepared for everything from SWOT analysis’ to pivot table manipulating.

While this assumption was correct, it just wasn’t the whole picture. Yes, I am using skills I absorbed from college lectures, but I am also pulling from my extracurricular activities and other experiences. I am fortunate enough to have a small liberal arts background that guides me to draw connections and question the deeper meaning on topics. These big picture skills have aided me in my internship experience.

As I look forward to returning to school, I am also sad that I only have a month left as a PeppSquad member. I want to thank everyone who has helped me these past few months and have made my first intern experience memorable.

 

By: Madeline Simko

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Intern Video

To find out more about life as a Peppercom intern, check out this YouTube video produced by former Peppercomm interns who share their experiences. Click Here