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My First Job: The Night Shift

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Today’s guest post is by Peppercomm media and content specialist, Chris Gillick.  

It was April 2003, college graduation was a month away, and I was soon to be spit out into the big bad world (i.e. mom’s basement) with no job lined up. While I was certainly not alone, the competitor in me wanted to be able to tell my classmates during Senior Week that I had my act together.

I then got a voicemail on my house phone. (Remember those? To think that as recently as 2003 there were no such things as smartphones or Facebook.)

The call was about a currency trader job on Wall Street. This was not out of the blue, as I had positioned myself with relevant coursework and internships for a career in finance. But the job market in financial services at the time for recent graduates was the weakest it had been in decades.

This was a stark contrast to when I had entered college at the tail end of the go-go 90s. Professors were regaling stories of seniors getting multiple Wall Street job offers just for showing up to interviews. But the bursting of the dot-com bubble and the 9/11 tragedies that followed quickly ended the hire-if-they-have-a-pulse practices.

I rushed down to New York City later that week for the interview. The office was in a dingy old building just south of the real Wall Street, next to the famed bull statue. I was wearing my best (and only) suit and a red power tie. Despite portraying great confidence with my outfit, I was more nervous than I had ever been. My palms actually sweated as I filled out an application in the reception area.

After completing the paperwork and wiping said hand sweat onto my suit pants, I was ushered into “The Cage,” a 7’x7’ closet filled with a dozen computer screens flashing real-time currency prices. There I met with a manager not too much older than I was, along with a classic old-timer who had been in the business for 40 years and could have easily been confused for Joe Pesci in Goodfellas. During our meeting, they bombarded me with math problems and market-related questions, which I seemingly answered with ease, and told me that the job required work at all hours, including the overnight shift. I said I was fine with that. I just wanted a job. The actual hours themselves were irrelevant.

After seemingly passing muster with these two gentlemen, they told me to come back in 30 minutes to meet the partner in charge of the group. I walked outside of the building and sat in Bowling Green Park across the street, pondering the gravity of the situation. What kind of test is this? Who are these guys? What do they do? Am I going to get the job? It was a painfully long 30 minutes.

When I returned to The Cage, a bearded man with sunglasses walked in wearing sweatpants, smoking a Marlboro Red, and sporting a baseball cap that read “F#@% OFF”. I couldn’t have made up this story if I tried.

This was NOTHING like the investment banks in midtown I had interviewed with months earlier. Who is this character? What kind of place is this? This is Wall Street? Isn’t everyone supposed to be dressed up, pedigreed and well-spoken? However, this could be more fun and interesting than working at a stuffy big bank, I thought. My conversation with the boss went something like this:

BOSS: “Are you Arab?”

(For the record, I have dark olive skin, and he was a Russian immigrant with strong ties in the Jewish community.)

ME: “No, I’m Irish and Italian.”

(Needless to say, I wanted the job and was hardly concerned about the blatant HR violation that he had just committed.)

BOSS: “Well, you look Arab. Are you willing to work nights?”

ME: “Yes, that’s fine.”

BOSS: “Good, we’re gonna offer you the job.”

No waiting for callbacks. No second or third rounds. No Super Saturdays. No BS. Two weeks after graduation, I was a currency trader on Wall Street.

My third day on the job, around 8 AM in the morning, I walked onto the trading desk during a very volatile moment in the market. I had no idea what was going on. One soon-to-be relieved night shift trader asked me, “Hey, did they teach you how to make prices yet?”


“Good. You’re on Dollar-Canada!”

Before I could even blink, I sat down at a computer terminal and made a price in the Canadian dollar that was a full cent away what it should have been –  a massive discrepancy. Not even three days into my tenure on Wall Street, I had just caused major problems to my firm’s trading system, blowing through every safeguard meant to prevent such an error. I’m lucky I wasn’t fired right then and there. Given that my fingerprints were all over an unnecessary spike in our price chart of the Canadian dollar, from that day on I was known as “Spike” to the rest of the team. At first I objected to the name, but there was no way I was ever living this down. The name Spike stuck.

Eventually I got the hang of what I was doing, and after about a year working conventional hours, I was assigned to “the night shift.” My hours were now from midnight to 8AM. At first it wasn’t so bad. I had the freedom to do what I wanted during the day, and could choose whatever hours I wanted to sleep. It only took me a week or two to get used to it.

There were other benefits as well. For one, my drycleaning bill plummeted because I didn’t have to get dressed up for work. When I walked to the subway just after 8 AM, fighting the crowds in suits going the other way, I felt like I had a leg up on the rest of the population having already done my time at work. I really got to know my colleagues better personally, as there were no external distractions overnight and we were free to talk more openly with each other. Plus, have you ever been to happy hour at 8:30 in the morning? I spent several Thursday and Friday mornings at the South Street Seaport with my colleagues downing 32 oz Styrofoam buckets of beer for $1.75 each. The only other fellow degenerates at Jeremy’s Ale House at that hour were the Fulton Fish Market workers, a fun bunch indeed.

I stayed at that job for a few years before moving onto a smaller startup competitor. But after 4 years of a round the clock lifestyle, coupled with the concurrent demise of that startup, I realized that I was better at talking and writing about finance than doing it. That epiphany led to stints as a financial journalist and eventually my current career in public relations working with financial services clients.

The night shift taught me this important reality: work can be done at any hour anywhere around the globe. Lots of people make their living working overnight, whether it be a doorman for an apartment building, a construction worker, or a police officer. For creative types, sometimes their best work is done at night, free from the distractions of emails, phone calls and texts we receive during the day.

In short, unconventional hours can yield unconventional experiences, which yield unconventional results.  In the end, it’s always a more fun story to tell.


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In today’s post, meet one Peppercomm’s amazing Summer interns, Jess Schram

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

Hi there! I’m Jess—a rising senior at the University of Maryland, College Park. I grew up in the suburbs of New Jersey in a town called Freehold, which is about 15 minutes from Six Flags and only a short car ride from the beach. If you really knew me, you would know a few things:

  1. I’m a pescatarian (because I couldn’t give up sushi).
  2. I’m a hula hooper (because I couldn’t give up childhood).
  3. I’m a Kiwi (because I couldn’t give up New Zealand after studying abroad).



My interest in Peppercomm stems from a class project I had two years ago, which challenged me to interview a communications professional for writing tips in the PR industry. At the time, my uncle was a communications executive for one of Peppercomm’s clients, and put me in touch with Partner and President of Peppercomm, Ted Birkhahn, for an interview.

Like any good student, I did some research before making the call, and was very impressed with what I found. After browsing Peppercomm’s website(s), I realized my uncle set me up for something greater than I expected. And by greater, I mean more intimidating. And by more intimidating I mean, “Holy smokes! This place is the real deal.”

On first blush I learned that Peppercomm had recently been dubbed one of the best places to work in NYC by Crain’s New York Business and also boasted some of the best campaigns I’d ever seen. It was at that moment I knew my informational interview wasn’t going to be just “for class.” This interview was a stepping stone toward something bigger—a future internship at Peppercomm—and I was determined to make it count . . .

. . . I guess it worked. 

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

I like PR because I think it’s the perfect combination of business and journalism. Think about it—business professionals are the brains of a company, and reporters are the voices of the people, but PR practitioners are a perfect combination of the two. The public relations industry appeals to me because it is one of the only fields to specialize in connecting businesses with people, and I am drawn to creating these symbiotic relationships.

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

If working here has taught me anything, it’s that Peppercomm certainly strays from the norm… in a good way. Last week I had coffee with a University of Maryland alumna in the PR industry at a different agency and asked her questions about entry level public relations in the city. The former Terp was very honest, which I appreciate, but told me things I was not expecting.

For starters, the alumna explained that some agencies do not allow entry-level associates to participate in client calls or pitch reporters. I was shocked!  How could I go from being treated like an account executive to being completely out of the loop from client initiatives? Not for me.

After speaking with the former Terp, I feel fortunate that Peppercomm allowed me to dabble in what appears to be “unchartered waters” for entry levels, and will certainly do my homework when shopping for the best experience after graduation.

4) Where do you see yourself going in the industry?

Although I’ve learned a lot this summer, Peppercomm has me hungry for more. I loved being exposed to the strategic/creative realm of communications and enjoyed participating in campaign brainstorms and co-owning the social media ideas for our intern program, the PeppSquad.

In the future, I hope to be in a role that encompasses strategy and planning and has less to do with day to day media relations and pitching. My true passion lies in storytelling through digital media, and I hope to one day have a career that allows me to do just that.

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My First Job: In A Nutshell

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Today’s guest post is by Peppercomm associate, Madeline Skahill. 

While I have had my fair share of babysitting jobs and teaching younger kids the ropes of soccer at camp, my first “real” job all began during the warm summer months of Williamsburg. When you say “Williamsburg” to a group of New Yorkers, they automatically assume the trendy neighborhood of New York. However, when you say “Williamsburg” to anyone who has ever been on a field trip or have grandparents who live in the south, they think of Colonial Williamsburg; the mecca of bonnets, cannons, and daily reenactments  of 18th century life.

The summers in Colonial Williamsburg were where the tourists went to play and the high school students sought summer jobs. As a majority of my friends obtained jobs as hostesses at neighboring restaurants, I was lucky enough to land a job as a Sales Associate at “The Williamsburg Peanut Shop.” While I can’t say I ever felt a true passion behind how peanuts were made and seasoned, I can say that my summer months spent in the small store located on the corner of a bustling street, taught me a few lessons I will always be able to apply in my career.

  • Perform at your best, no matter what task you are completing: My first day on the job consisted of grabbing a fork from the back room and picking out the melted chocolate covered peanuts from the cracks of the wooden floor. While some may say this may not seem like the most ideal task, I knew if I did not get this job done right, my entire summer would be spent performing similar tasks.  Dedicating myself to this task, left the floors clean and my manager happy about my positive attitude and efficient works style. This was the last time I ever scrubbed the floors.
  • The customer is always right: This may not be entirely true, but for the most part dealing with an unhappy customer, or client, makes the task at hand, much more challenging. Understanding the needs of the customer, not only makes your job easier, but allows you to complete the job right and in a timely manner.
  • Never under-estimate your skills: Although I worked with a fair amount of people my age, the managers of the store were much older. That being said, I quickly learned that in order to gain more responsibly in the store, I had to show the managers I could think and act on their level.  By contributing to conversations about what products to buy for the store or how to handle the store operations when a summer storm knocks the power out, I was able to close the age gap between my co-workers and myself. While my ideas and thoughts may not have always been right, I did not let the age gap hinder the jobs I deserved to manage.

These are just a few tips I learned along the way, though I have many more stories to share. Unfortunately for you all, there is not enough time in the day to discuss the life lesson I learned from standing outside the store in a peanut hat for 2 hours.

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In today’s post, meet current Peppercomm NYC intern and future communications star, Marlee Murphy


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

My name is Marlee Murphy and I am a week away from beginning my senior year at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill! I am double majoring in Journalism and Mass Communication, and Political Science. My specific track within the journalism school is Strategic Communications (a mix of advertising and public relations). During this past school year, I was a nanny for a few families, worked at QSR Magazine as an editorial intern and led Wyldlife—part of Young Life for those of you who are familiar with the organization.

Now that you’re filled in on my professional background, here are some fun facts about me! I am the oldest of four children, I think coffee’s the best thing since sliced bread, my face is in a Coca-Cola commercial and I adore the color blue. Good start?

I’m from a fairly small town in Rowan County, North Carolina named Salisbury. Ever heard of Cheerwine (the soft drink), Food Lion or F&M Bank? All of these originated in Salisbury. While growing up in small town USA could be boring at times (a “raging” Friday night is considered swinging by fast food restaurant Cook Out and possibly hitting up the local movie theater), I wouldn’t trade my experiences there for the world. I will confess Salisbury has certainly left its mark on my personality. For example, I love country music, hate techno-y dance clubs, love homemade tea and Bojangles’, hate Snapple and croissants, love being outdoors, hate huge crowds. Now I know what you’re thinking; how in the world did you end up at Peppercomm—aka the heart of New York City?

The story began with an email to Peppercomm in early January inquiring about the internship and company as a whole. I had noticed their name on a list of national top 25 public relations agencies and decided to do some further research. I took note of their awards for great company culture and work environment, and decided the internship was worth pursuing. Unlike many other New York firms, I felt Peppercomm aligned with my personal values and better suited me in terms of company culture and agency size. When I heard back from Peppercomm in March, I was elated! I skyped in for an interview and a few weeks later, I was offered the internship.

Fast forward to today, this has been the summer of a lifetime. Peppercomm exceeded my expectations and is truly a phenomenal place to work and learn. This summer I not only learned more about the industry and agency life, but by stepping outside of my comfort zone, I also learned a lot about myself and have become a more well-rounded individual. I will be forever grateful to Peppercomm for giving me this internship opportunity.

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

As of now, I am not drawn to a specific sector within PR. While at Peppercomm, I’ve enjoyed working on an array of projects that incorporated a variety of industries. Due to a lighter load of account work, I was able to complete at least a dozen one-offs for an array of clients. All of the interns have appreciated the opportunity to explore the world of PR rather than being pigeonholed in one sector. I’ve also found that I enjoy the strategy and branding side of communications more so than media relations.

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

Peppercomm’s office culture and inclusive environment surprised me. Every company claims to have great culture and a welcoming workforce; however, in Peppercomm’s case, the claim was 100 percent true. Peppercomm organizes workout events, hosts pub nights, encourages stand-up comedy, and recognizes birthdays and births. They include the interns in every facet of the company and are happy to help us understand new concepts even if it inconveniences them. They put intern row (our line of open cubicles) in the center of one of the floors. We sit right outside the executives’ office doors, which is an incredible opportunity. Not only do we work side-by-side with account teams, but we also are able to see what the day-to-day is like for communications and PR agency executives. On the first day, we (the six interns) hit the deck running, each on multiple client accounts. I jump from one client to another, creating media lists, drafting tweets, monitoring social media and press mentions, researching, writing blogs, editing, etc. The work never ends (which is a good thing in my opinion), and I’ve loved every minute of it.

4)     Where do you see yourself going in the industry?

Post-graduation, I see myself working for a public relations agency. Interning with Peppercomm this summer demonstrated how important it is to have agency experience when launching a communications career. In most agency settings, you are able to work with a variety of clients with an assortment of unique needs. While working for an agency, you are able to dabble in event planning, branding, strategy, media relations, social media and more. No work day is the same at an agency. In addition to acquiring new skills on a daily basis, you’re constantly learning more about how to better communicate and work as a team. After working at an agency for a while, I would like to open my own small marketing firm or event-planning boutique.

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In today’s post, meet current Peppercomm NYC intern and future communications star, Meredith Briggs.  


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

My name is Meredith Briggs and I’m an incoming senior at Trinity College in Hartford, CT. I am double majoring in French and American Studies (see my blog post for more info). I went to an immersion school so I’ve been speaking French since the 1st grade! I’m originally from Minneapolis, Minnesota, although neither of my parents are from Minnesota (mom is from Ohio and dad is from New York).

I worked at a PR firm last summer in NYC and was really excited about the opportunity to pursue another internship in New York. After doing some research on the top PR firms in New York I was immediately drawn to Peppercomm. Not only did they have an impressive list of clients, but they also continuously reiterated the fun aspect of their culture (how many companies do you know that actually have a Culture Committee?) Thankfully I was fortunate enough to get an internship here and the rest is history!

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

This is a tough question for me. If you had asked me at the beginning of the summer I would have easily said that I was most interested in consumer clients.  Between my internship last summer and my internship at Peppercomm I’ve been fortunate enough to work on some really cool consumer accounts. This is definitely still a passion of mine, however, after attending the Council of PR Firms’ annual InternFest I have no idea what exactly I want to do. Listening to Gail Moaney, a specialist in travel service relations, made me realize how insanely large the PR industry is. You can specialize in anything and everything and this is something that really appeals to me. I guess this is a roundabout way of saying that the industry itself is most appealing to me. I could potentially do the PR for my favorite sports teams, or my favorite candy bar. There are endless possibilities in this industry and that never ceases to amaze me.

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

I sort of answered this question in the last answer, but again, I think what really surprised me is how enormous the PR world is. I think this is exemplified through Peppercomm’s own clientele. For me, I’ll be working on a consumer account, and then 20 minutes later I’ll be doing work for a financial account.

Something specific about Peppercomm itself that surprised me was how true they are to the “fun” aspect of work. I definitely thought Peppercomm was a fun company but was shocked by how they are constantly bringing fun into the office.  To name a few of the fun things I’ve experienced in my short time here at Peppercomm, they brought in food and drinks for the World Cup they brought in food and drinks, they hosted a comedy show and a happy hour. They try to help you balance work and play, and I definitely think they are successful.

4)     Where do you see yourself going in the industry?

Up! Just kidding – kind of. I hope that after I graduate (scary thought) I end up at a company like Peppercomm. Before I decide what I really want to do I’d like to keep expanding my horizons, and this is something that Peppercomm allows me to do. While I’ve definitely realized what I do and don’t like, I want to dive more into the type of work that I am interested in. What kind of consumer PR, should I specialize, etc. Basically all I really want is to work for a company that I love. I want to be excited about the work I do, even if it’s something as simple as putting together a media list. I think it would be really cool to do sports PR, but I don’t want to limit myself just yet!

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Today’s guest post was written by Peppercomm’s Jade Moore, manager, client relationships.

My very first job didn’t feel much like one.  My aunt had a friend who ran an upscale (read: overpriced) boutique in my neighborhood in Staten Island, and asked if I’d be interested in working one or two days a week after school.  This place had all of the trappings you might expect from a Staten Island outfitter.  Sequins galore.  I said sure, why not?!  I was a junior in high school and could use some extra cash for buying acrylic nails or whatever horrible thing I was into back then.  Plus, she was a friend of my dear aunt, so she had to be nice to me.

If you’ve ever seen “Happy Endings,” this shop was precisely like the boutique owned by ditzy Alex (played by Elisha Cuthbert) – that is, there were no customers.  Perhaps this place was bustling during prom and wedding season but when I started in the fall – crickets.  I quickly learned that I would be responsible for a few things:  vacuuming, steaming clothes – which, admittedly, I love to do (ironing, not so much) – and affixing price tags onto said clothing items.  The little price-tag gun was fun to use.  Maybe the highlight of my time there.

To be quite honest, given the fact that there was not much to do beyond the tasks outlined above – and the fact that there were, again, no customers – I don’t think I took the job too seriously, in hindsight.  I played with the owners dog.  I challenged myself to find normal-ish clothes for myself among the bedazzled frocks.  I may have napped once.  Yes, you heard correctly.  As a conscientious and responsible adult, I would never pull a George Costanza today.  I’m ashamed to say I did then, but I had a good reason!  See, the night before, I was at Yankee Stadium, watching the Yankees play the Diamondbacks in Game 5 of the 2001 World Series.  An epic, 12-inning win for the Yanks.  I was tired.  I don’t think anyone noticed, but I still feel bad about that.

After a few months,  the owner decided she didn’t really need me anymore and stopped calling me in for work.  Probably for the best that we parted ways.  In the end, I definitely hadn’t learned how to be a master salesperson.  Or even how to use a cash register.  The “no customers” part kind of made these things challenging.  I didn’t really look up to the Boss either.  Let’s just say, she was a little gossipy.  But I took a couple of key lessons away from my brief foray in retail:

  • Put your best foot forward.  Even if you don’t feel like you can contribute much, there’s always something you can do to go above and beyond and add value.  I could’ve used the opportunity to think of and share ways to bring in new customers.  Or ask my boss to give me a lesson in making a sale.
  • Don’t sleep on the job.

There’s something to be learned from every job.  What may not seem like a worthwhile experience can be full of surprises if you keep your eyes and ears open and make the most of it.

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In today’s post, meet current Peppercomm NYC Business Outcomes intern and future industry star, Liz DePlautt


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

My name is Liz DePlautt and I am a rising senior at Washington and Lee University majoring in Economics. I spent the last semester abroad studying in the Netherlands and only a few days after my return I quickly transitioned into working and commuting into the city every day from my hometown Ridgewood, NJ.  My journey to Peppercomm actually started last spring when I applied for a position here my sophomore year. I had heard about the firm through friends who took a trip to the office with our school and saw that they had a Research and Analytics internship. I thought it would be perfect way to combine my experience with economics and my interest in communications. While last summer did not work out I was hooked on the company. When I saw the same position posted for a Research and Analytics intern this past spring I reconnected with Nicole, the head of the Business Outcomes group, right away and sent in my resume hoping that my increased experience this time around would land me the job.

I have previously worked as a business development intern for a non-profit education advocacy organization, a cause I have always been passionate about. I also worked as a marketing intern for a startup internet company helping to build up the presence of a new company. I spent my junior year as part of the Venture Club, an entrepreneurship based group at W&L, as part of their Consulting team, doing research for startups and small business owners to help them expand their businesses. All these experiences have taught me so much but I wanted to work for a company such as Peppercomm, to really get to understand Public Relations and to get to know the ins and outs of a full service agency.

At this point I am more than halfway through my internship and am loving my job, my team and the whole atmosphere here at Peppercomm.

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

As a Business Outcomes team intern I am very interested in the numbers behind a lot of what is going on in Public Relations. I am fascinated by the media’s influence on consumer behavior and why people do what they do. Although data cannot tell us the psychology behind consumer behavior it allows us to piece together the actions of many and then analyze any trends that are happening. From this sort of measurement you can pull insights on how the media and the public are interacting with a company and focus in on things that might be relevant to help a business to better understand their practices and improve.

On my interview for Peppercomm I was asked the question, “Do you tend to look at the big picture or are you more detail oriented?” This question really got me thinking and while my initial reaction was to say detail oriented I realized that the best part about data is how it can accurately depict the big picture. Starting from scouring the web and inputting data into a spreadsheet to then seeing the power of all the small details coming together to an end result is really great and seems to be an increasingly important part of Public Relations.

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

Peppercomm is my first real experience with PR so just being here, experiencing the  day-to-day, and observing what goes on around me has all been very new and surprising. One aspect is the fact that Peppercomm represents so many different types of clients ranging from TGI Fridays to Ernst & Young. The versatility of all the staff members who are able to juggle so many differing accounts is really awesome to see. I have also been surprised by how much I learn about a new industry just by working on their account. With each account I have worked on so far I have found that I am not only becoming more knowledgeable about the PR industry but also about the industries of the clients as well. Thanks to my work at Peppercomm so far I now know a lot more than I ever would have thought about securities regulation, trash-to-energy technology, and hedge funds, to name a few.

4) Where do you see yourself going in the industry?

Though I still have a lot more to learn about Peppercomm and PR in general I am excited about what I have been exposed to so far. I can definitely see myself getting more involved with behind the scenes analytics and measurement and growing with this niche inside the industry. The unique innovations and new ways to analyze and interpret data going on here in the Business Outcomes division have me excited about the future for data and analytics for Peppercomm and for the PR industry as a whole.

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In today’s post, meet current Peppercomm NYC licensing intern and future industry star, Jaclyn Roberts.


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

I graduated this past May from NYU with a double major in Broadcast Journalism and Political Science. I grew up just outside of Phoenix, Arizona, in a town called Paradise Valley. I love Arizona and it was a wonderful place to grow up, but I fell in love with New York while at NYU and decided that I wasn’t ready to leave yet. I am starting graduate school at Columbia University at the end of August.

While I really enjoyed both of my majors, I decided not to pursue my original plan of working in television news. I realized that that the aspects of these majors that I really loved—writing, storytelling, critical thinking, etc. were all at the core of the communications and public relations fields. Therefore, I decided that I wanted to have an internship in this industry to make sure that it was what I wanted to do. I saw a listing for an internship with Brand² Squared Licensing on NYU’s job listing website. The position sounded interesting because it involved several aspects of the PR. I researched Peppercomm and was extremely impressed by what I read, and then immediately applied to the internship.


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

I have really enjoyed working with the licensing division and learning about that aspect of the industry. It’s so exciting to see all the directions a company can go in by collaborating with different companies and creating new products. One of my favorite parts about interning in licensing is that I have been exposed to several different areas of the industry such as business development, market research, brand management, and the creative side.


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

After interning at Peppercomm, I have realized how much I want to pursue a career in the industry. My internship at Peppercomm has been a wonderful experience.  Not only is everyone who works here knowledgeable about the industry and good at what they do, they have also been extremely welcoming and willing to help me learn and get the most out of my internship.


4) Where do you see yourself going in the industry?

 I’m very interested in corporate communications and brand management. I am pursuing my master’s degree in Communications Practice with a concentration in Corporate Communications. My dream is to one day be a marketing or corporate communications executive at a financial company or another large corporation.

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In today’s post, meet current Peppercomm NYC intern and future communications star (or Creative Director)Mary Insinga.

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

I am a recent graduate from the State University of New York at Oneonta. I received a Bachelor of Science in Communication Studies with a minor in Advertising.

I am from Bellmore, Long Island – right by Jones Beach! I recently moved there with my family but I am originally from New Hyde Park, Long Island.  I grew up in an extremely diverse neighborhood and attended one of the highest ranked High Schools in New York State, Herricks High School (96th in the country!) I could honestly say that my educational foundation was a challenging experience but I received a degree that I am truly proud of.

My educational experience at Oneonta was very much a creative one and my major was filled with brilliant professors who have truly changed my life. In hindsight, I was somewhat frustrated that the classes I needed to fulfill my minor in Advertising were only available to me during my Senior Year.

Fortunately, this hiccup in my initial plan was exactly what led me in to the Public Relations industry. I’m not going to lie, when someone talks to me about the struggle of finding a job, I am the first to say – “it’s all about who you know, you should look to your social networks.” It has unfolded for me that almost all of my professional experience thus far has begun from a networking connection.

My aunt works for a financial advisement firm that had briefly enlisted the services of Janine Gordon Associates, a boutique PR Firm in New York City. Thankfully, my aunt and Janine got along splendidly and maintained a friendship well beyond their client relationship. Seeing as I had little to no hard skills at the time that I felt could be applied to an Advertising internship, I turned to Public Relations as my first attempt at an internship experience. I was fortunate enough to have been given the opportunity to interview for a summer internship at JGA.

Once I landed the job, the doors felt like they had flung open and the possibilities were endless. Through that internship, I not only discovered my passion for public relations but found coworkers and a management team that I connected so well with on both a professional and personal level. The entire JGA team had truly cultivated my understanding of the industry by allowing me to explore the world of public relations, and encouraging every one of my ideas and explorations.

It was actually on my last day at JGA at the end of the summer that Janine announced Peppercomm’s acquisition of JGA. I sat there bubbling over with excitement as she described Peppercomm’s culture, clients and endless opportunities for both their employees and clients.  Staying true to my belief that, “it’s all about connections,” I kept in touch with Sam Bruno, who was my intern supervisor at JGA. I continued to extend my interest in pursuing an internship at Peppercomm and now here I am!

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

 JGA was acquired by Peppercomm with the intent to be able to provide clients with broad-based consumer lifestyle expertise, and further enhance Peppercomm’s existing abilities. My experience on consumer accounts at both JGA and Peppercomm has emerged as my favorite area of the industry to work on.

Fortunately, at Peppercomm I am working on a few of the same accounts I worked on a JGA. Through this extended experience with these consumer brands, I feel that I have been able to hone my interest on the consumer and lifestyle sector of the industry.

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

I think the biggest revelation I have had during my internship experience at Peppercomm, is how important an office culture is to the wellbeing of its employees. I have had my fair share of office jobs in the past and I can honestly say that the sense of community and fun that is felt here at Peppercomm is so refreshing. It has been especially funny for me to have all of my expectations confirmed.

I had the unique opportunity to have sat in on the meeting when Janine announced to the JGA girls about the acquisition. Janine, being the wonderful PR professional that she is, pitched Peppercomm and the idea of moving to their offices so eloquently. She spoke of the comedy experience, and the Peppercomm State University, the CEO’s and the upward mobility. Everything that she had promised to her employees had rung true for them and for me once I began my internship at Peppercomm.

4) Where do you see yourself going in the industry?

Well for now, I am sticking around at Peppercomm and extending my internship in to the fall semester. As a recent graduate, I am definitely looking to find a full time position working in the PR and Marketing industry at a mid-size, full service firm like Peppercomm.

I also have been given the unique opportunity to explore the Creative digital department here, which is a sector of the industry that has especially piqued my interest. I hope to excel at project management in the short term, hopefully moving my way up one day to a Creative Director position in an advertising or marketing firm.


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Today’s guest post was written by Peppercomm account executive, Ali Hughes.

It sounds more exciting (and tasty) then it turned out to be.

Angelo's #2

My first job was serving ice cream to the masses on the hot, humid days of summer in North East Ohio.  Growing up in a small town outside Cleveland, the closest form of civilization (besides farms) was an ice cream window attached to a small pizza shop. I was thirteen and my dad knew the owners, so naturally he introduced me, and got me my first job. At the young age of 13, I pictured a summer full of free food and cute delivery boys. I had no idea that the work would be so, well… hard.

My first day was a quick run through on how to properly mix the blizzards and milk shakes, while managing to not cut my hands off on the machine. I also learned how to fill the soft serve machine, and defrost the buckets of hard ice cream. The second day I was on my own. I quickly found out that softball players can get pretty mean, pretty fast, when their ice cream isn’t made quick enough. Imagine twenty boys under the age of ten standing in front of you screaming out orders of ice cream. Just when I was on the verge of tears, I managed to dump the bag of liquid soft serve ice cream all over myself – missing the machine by just a few inches. Needless to say I went home pretty upset, despite the many dollar bills shoved into my tip can (I can only assume the tips were out of pity).

Despite my well delivered speech on why I shouldn’t return, my parents dropped me off the next day to face my fears of muddy tee-ball players and sticky ice cream machines. I didn’t become an ice cream wiz over night, but after a month or so I could stand on my own two feet. I became an expert at filling a cone with a perfect swirl of soft serve, and could fill the ice cream machines – two bags at a time.

Despite the rocky start, my first job turned out to be a great opportunity that taught me many life lessons.

  • If you fail at something, never stop trying to succeed. Failure has a different definition for every person.
  • Learn to lean on your coworkers, you don’t have to do everything yourself.
  • It’s ok to laugh at yourself, and let others laugh too.
  • Learn from your mistakes, and tell other people about them before they make the same mistakes themselves.
  • Be very thankful for rainy days.
  • You can never have too much crunch coat.

At the time, my job seemed like the most difficult one in the world. Now I look back on it with fond memories, and realize I was lucky to have a dad to push me into the real world of working for a pay.

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Intern Podcast

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