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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johnpostToday we are going to meet Peppercomm’s only male intern, John Tompkins!

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

Hello, from Peppercomm’s best (and only) male intern of the summer 2017 session! My name’s John, and I’m a rising senior at Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Virginia, where I’m double-majoring in Politics and Journalism. I was born and raised in Vero Beach, Florida, a small beach town of about 20,000 located on the state’s east coast, and I attended an even smaller, Catholic high school just south of my house. I’ve been interested in media for as long as I can remember, or at least, ever since I began parking in front of the TV screen every weeknight to watch Fox News’s Special Report with Brit Hume at the age of seven. Yeah, you could say I was a pretty cool kid. I’d always thought I wanted to go into broadcast, but after completing a PR internship at a large non-profit organization in Johannesburg, South Africa last spring, I decided to give strategic communications a go this summer. I found Peppercomm through a Washington and Lee alumni who currently works here with us and I’m so glad my teams have thrown me directly into the fray over the past two months!

 

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

I’d say I’m very “go-with-the-flow,” so it really depends. I love finding new spots across New York City to hang out with friends and I’ve made it a personal mission to avoid visiting the same bars and restaurants twice while I’m interning here. In general, I like to relax with a good book or show on Netflix, preferably somewhere scenic, like in Central Park or along the Hudson River. In fact, I love the outdoors in general, and at school, you can usually ‘cash me ousside’ on the tennis courts or hiking the many trails around our campus. I’m also on my university’s club polo team, but that already sounds a little too bougie, so I won’t go into further detail.

If I were to name my greatest passion, though, I think it’d have to be traveling to new and adventurous places on a whim. I’ve been my family’s personal travel consultant, booking the vast majority of our flights and cruises, since the age of 10, and there’s not a country in the world I wouldn’t consider visiting at some point in my life. My personal specialty is booking last minute excursions to exotic destinations, usually without telling my family. In May, after spending four months studying abroad in Denmark, I popped over to Qatar for the weekend, where I rode a camel through the desert and went night swimming in the Persian Gulf. It looks like my next trip is going to be a quick getaway to Chile’s Easter Island, located about 2,300 miles off the western coast of South America, in the middle of the South Pacific. But I’m open to suggestions.

 

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

That’s a tough one to answer, but I’d have to say that given my background in writing and reporting, I really enjoy composing social media suggestions and LinkedIn articles for our clients across the board. I’m a very meticulous person, so it takes me an incredibly long time to do so, but I love searching for interesting content and playing around with wording to really grab audiences and draw them in. It’s funny because I don’t really consider myself to be a very creative person. But, I just love that feeling you get when you know you’ve hit the nail on the head with your writing.

 

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

Since this is my very first experience at a PR firm, I’m still surprised each and every day by the hectic schedule professionals in this industry lead. I think it’s incredibly impressive. Keeping track of so many different clients and requests can be a little maddening at times, but I love keeping busy, so I’m thrilled that Peppercomm has kept me on my toes all summer. Coming from a journalism background—in which it’s often said that if you’re pleasing everyone you’re writing about, you’re doing your job wrong—I’ve also been surprised and impressed by the conciliatory tone and attitude PR professionals have to constantly maintain to conform to the industry’s “client first” mentality. Luckily, though, everyone I’ve interacted with at Peppercomm has been incredibly gracious and helpful, so it seems that all of our team members are in the right profession!

 

Where do you see yourself going in the industry?

Well if that isn’t the million-dollar question, I don’t know what is. Honestly, I have no idea, and I’m not even sure that I want to stick to PR yet. It’s going to take a lot of time and even more thought, which is why I’m so thankful I have another year of school to, you know, get my entire life figured out. If I do end up sticking to PR, I can only hope I have the privilege of working at an agency as amazing as Peppercomm!

 

INTERN LIGHTNING ROUND

  • Netflix or Hulu?  I’m terrible at technology and wouldn’t even know how to download Hulu if I wanted to.
  • Text or Call? Call
  • Coffee or Tea?Two weeks ago, I got a stomach ulcer—allegedly from too much stress and black coffee—so I’m going to have to go with tea. I’d rather not spend another Friday night at Lenox Hill Hospital.
  • Dogs or Cats? Dogs for sure. Cats are horrible.
  • NYC or San Francisco? Concrete jungle where dreams are made of (See: Jay Z)
  • Star Wars or Star Trek? Star Wars
  • Crunchy or smooth peanut butter?1996-2016: Smooth; 2016-Present: Crunchy
  • Mac or PC? Mac
  • Sweetened or Unsweetened Tea? Sweetened, preferably from McDonald’s
  • Nickelodeon or Cartoon Network? Are you kidding? Nick! (Drake and Josh was my childhood.) I still have nightmares about Ed, Ed, and Eddy.
  • Chocolate or Vanilla? Dark chocolate. (But not Lindt—it makes me nauseous.)
  • Seltzer or Water? Water
  • Cake or Pie? Pie (preferably cherry). Icing makes me sweat.
  • Tacos or Pizza? Pizza (Hawaiian, without the pineapple)
  • Hogwarts House: Harry Potter always gave me the creeps. All those black robes and aggressive spells…none of those children can be up to any good. And where are their parents?
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maddypost2Today we are going to meet Peppercomm’s Michigan Wolverine, Madison Lehman!

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

Hi everyone! My name is Madison (Maddy) Lehman. I am a rising senior at the University of Michigan, pursuing a double major in International Studies, with a sub plan in Political Economy and Development, and Communication Studies. I grew up in a small farm town in New Jersey called Cranbury, but I usually say I am from Princeton since I went to high school there and it is more well known. I have always been interested in the communications industry, but I decided to explore PR after speaking with Ed Moed, one of the CEOs at Peppercomm, prior to deciding which major to pursue sophomore year. The conversation with Ed immediately peaked my interest about the PR industry. I first dove into the PR industry when I worked for a PR agency last summer and loved it. Now, I am fortunate enough to experience the agency life again as a Peppercomm intern!

 

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

Being lucky enough to grow up in a home surrounded by farmland, woods and a lake, I love to be outside with family and friends. You can oftentimes find me fishing in my backyard on a canoe or helping my florist mom in our flower field. I also love going on hikes and taking our kayaks to the bay or parks around our area to explore. Since I live in New Jersey, I am only about a 40-minute car ride from the Jersey Shore, so my friends and I often take day trips to the beach as well (and no, I have never seen Snooki).

 

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

Seeing how a specific product or services brand message can alter the audience’s perception, really attracted me to PR. Drafting pitches and reaching out to reporters showed me how important it is to research the reporters you are contacting in order to create a pitch angle that will interest them. I think it is very fascinating that changing even a small phrase or subject line of an email can determine whether or not a reporter writes about your client. I really enjoy learning about the strategy behind media relations and I am excited to learn more.

 

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

The great thing about Peppercomm’s internship program is that they really throw you into the work. While everyone at the company is very willing to help, it was a bit overwhelming at first because I had to learn how to better manage my time. Being thrown many tasks at once taught me how to prioritize assignments. I now always ask for assignment deadlines, so I can better manage my time and get my work done as efficiently as possible. I think my time management skills have improved immensely along with my ability to do quality work in a very limited amount of time.

 

Where do you see yourself going in the industry?

I can honestly say I am unsure. I love working in an agency and learning about a wide range of industries, but I would also be willing to try out the in-house PR route. This internship experience definitely let me know that I love the agency work and atmosphere!

 

INTERN LIGHTNING ROUND

  • Netflix or Hulu? Netflix
  • Text or Call? Text
  • Cheesy or caramel popcorn? Ugh this is a hard one, but I will have to say caramel
  • Coffee or Tea?Tea, unless I am very tired
  • Dogs or Cats? I have to say dogs, but I do have two cats so I need to keep that quiet
  • NYC or San Francisco? NYC
  • Crunchy or smooth peanut butter?Crunchy
  • Mac or PC? Mac
  • Sweetened or Unsweetened Tea? Sweetened
  • Nickelodeon or Cartoon Network? Nickelodeon
  • Chocolate or Vanilla? This often changes day by day for me
  • Seltzer or Water? Water
  • Cake or Pie? I got sick once from eating too much cake batter and I haven’t wanted cake since
  • Tacos or Pizza? Pizza
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nataliepostToday we are going to meet Peppercomm’s only SF intern, Natalie Clendening!

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

Hi everyone, I’m Natalie! I’m a rising senior at Villanova University, where I double-major in Communications and Political Science. Although I go to school on the east coast, I grew up in Lafayette, California, a suburb outside San Francisco. I was introduced to PR through my first internship, which dealt with the in-house side. I knew I was interested in PR from that experience, and from my classes at school, but as I learned more about PR agencies I became intrigued about what the agency side is like. I was lucky enough to connect with Ann Barlow, learn more about Peppercomm, apply, and now here I am!

 

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

Music has always been a big part of my life. At Villanova, I’m the executive director of my a cappella group, and I also sing in the women’s choir, so when I’m not in class I’m usually at rehearsal! I’m also always listening to music and trying to attend concerts whenever I can.

This summer I’ve mainly been relaxing and hanging out with friends when I’m not at Peppercomm. Since I studied abroad last summer and attend college pretty far away, it’s been awhile since I’ve been home for a long period of time. I’ve developed an even bigger appreciation for San Francisco and the Bay Area as a result of leaving, so I’ve been trying to take advantage of being around this summer.

 

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

This is a difficult question to answer because I’ve loved getting to know different areas of the industry! However, two that have stood out to me are crisis strategy and media relations. I think it’s interesting creating strategy for existing and potential future crises, and making sure every possibility and potential reaction is taken into account. This kind of critical communication strategy is especially appealing to me. I’ve also enjoyed the media outreach aspect of PR. I think the process of communicating your client’s message to the media in a way that makes them stand out and also fits with a reporter’s interests is such a unique challenge. While these aspects of PR are taught at school, getting real exposure to them and learning from others here at Peppercomm has taught me so much!

 

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

This is my first experience at an agency, so while I came in with some expectations, I knew it would be different than anything I’ve done before. I feel like I’ve been able to learn so much about PR in a short period of time! One of the things I’ve realized I love about agency PR is exposure to different industries. Working on several accounts allows you to learn about so many different areas. It’s very fast-paced and exciting. I found it challenging to adjust at first, but interning at Peppercomm has made me become more organized and able to quickly switch gears than ever before. As for surprises about Peppercomm, everyone always says this, but it’s true – the amount of responsibilities you are given is truly unique for an internship, as is everyone’s eagerness to help you learn and succeed!

 

Where do you see yourself going in the industry?

I can’t say for sure! I like to keep an open mind when it comes to the future. That being said, I would love to work within agency PR. This internship has definitely reinforced that for me. But for now, I’ll focus on graduating! :)

 

INTERN LIGHTNING ROUND

  • Netflix or Hulu? Netflix for the shows I’ve re-watched a million times, Hulu for my current ones because I never watch anything live.
  • Text or Call? Text
  • Coffee or Tea? Tea for when I’m stressed or sick, but coffee any other day.
  • Dogs or Cats? Dogs for sure. I don’t really understand cats.
  • NYC or San Francisco? SF will always be home :)
  • Star Wars or Star Trek? Star Wars
  • Crunchy or smooth peanut butter? Smooth
  • Mac or PC? Mac
  • Sweetened or Unsweetened Tea? Unsweetened
  • Nickelodeon or Cartoon Network? I was a Disney kid, but Nick was a close second.
  • Chocolate or Vanilla? Chocolate 10000%
  • Seltzer or Water? Water
  • Cake or Pie? Cake because of my love of chocolate!
  • Tacos or Pizza? Pizza
  • Hogwarts House: Ravenclaw/Hufflepuff
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maddypost

Hello from Peppercomm’s only commuting intern! My name is Madison (Maddy) Lehman and I am a rising senior at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. I am from New Jersey and love taking trips to New York City, so I have spent many times on the wonderful transportation system called NJ Transit.

My father has been using this system for about 25 years now. As I was growing up, he always came home with funny stories about his commute to work.. Now that I’m older, I have been able to experience these struggles with him as I’ve commuted to the city for internships at the United Nations, a PR Agency and now for Peppercomm. Although these experiences can be frustrating, we’ve been able to find the humor in these experiences. I am hoping readers will take a look at this and relate as well. I also encourage anyone reading this to comment with commuting struggles they also experience!

 

  1. The Inevitable Delay

One thing that NJ Transit can be known for is delays. Sometimes, when you are sitting and staring at the board in Penn Station that announces the tracks, you get that sinking feeling in your stomach when your train is a 6:01 and they have announced the tracks for the 5:45, 5:55, 6:05 and 6:10. By this time, you usually realize that your train isn’t coming and you should probably catch the next one. They also have this system that tells you that your train is delayed when you’re already on the train and have no way to get off unless you want to pry open the doors and jump on the tracks.

  1. Roulette Game of Which Track

It’s the end of your day and you are standing amongst a sea of fellow travelers staring at the board that announces the tracks. You are nervously looking around at each track entrance, and then back at the board, and then back at the track entrances that surround you. You never know if you will have to run across the station or if the right track will conveniently be next to you. It’s a fun guessing game each day to see if you are lucky enough to stand near your track.

  1. The Stampede

After you have played the roulette game, you have to experience the stampede of bodies that flock to the train entrance’s door. The stampede could be likened to a fight to the Cornucopia in The Hunger Games. It’s every person for themselves here. You see parents dragging their children, travelers trying to get their suitcases through the crowd and a few people that are doing this for the first time looking scared and confused as they are pushed against their will towards the doors.

  1. TICKETS

Once you’re on the train, the call of “TICKETS” is one that immediately results in fear. Everyone begins frantically emptying their bags searching for their ticket or their phone. Those with a phone begin feverishly attempting to open the NJ Transit application in order to avoid the wrath of the train conductor if your ticket is not loaded. You don’t want to be that commuter that receives a deathly look from the train conductor if your ticket is not downloaded on your device when they’re there. Unfortunately, this happens often since the trains don’t have Wi-Fi and there are various areas without data on the ride.

  1. The Mystery of the Doors

This is a problem that often keeps my father up at night. No one really knows where the train doors will stop when the train arrives. As the train arrives, everyone begins running around like a chicken with their head cut off trying to find a door in order to be one of the first on the train. If you are unfortunate enough to be one of those that are far from a door, you may have to stand for some of the train ride or be stuck next to “That Guy” (see below).

  1. “That Guy”

Sometimes you wind up sitting next to who I like to call “That Guy.” “That Guy” can encompass a lot of people. It can be the person that spreads their legs as wide as they can in the tiny seat next to you, resulting in you spending most of the ride hanging on the side of your chair. They can also be that person that is playing electronic music very loudly or speaking loudly on the phone about the cream cheese bagel they are craving on your 7 a.m. train. These are just a few examples of “That Guy,” but there are many more. You will usually know when you’re next to “That Guy” after the first 5 minutes of your trip. If possible, try to find a new seat when you realize this.

 

By: Madison Lehman

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