In today’s post, meet current Peppercomm NYC intern and future industry star, Sidney Encarnacion.

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

My name is Sidney Encarnacion and I’m from the lovely town of Williamsburg, Virginia. I graduated from Radford University with a bachelors in communication and a minor in art. While at Radford, I was also a four year varsity student-athlete for the women’s field hockey team. Go Highlanders! I was involved in my schools Career Services Program and worked as a communications intern.

I was introduced to Peppercomm via referral from a previous internship. The charismatic people and use of comedy combined with the dedication to serving their clients really struck me. Upon finding out about the opportunities I would be given at Peppercomm, I knew I had to be a part of their stellar program.

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

Since I started studying communications, I’ve always been interested in the consumer/lifestyle side of the industry. After having the opportunity to work on a wide range of accounts I feel that I interact the most with those brands and enjoy building upon their brands message. At Peppercomm I’ve been given the opportunity to continue working with such accounts and develop a stronger skillset.

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

I was surprised at the amount of responsibility given to interns at Peppercomm. You truly have the opportunity to develop your skills beyond entry-level assignments. Interns have access to a wealth of knowledge including on-going trainings and workshops to help them hone their skills. I feel that Peppercomm is confident in the intern’s ability to grow and contribute valuable knowledge to their clients.

Where do you see yourself going in the industry?

Later down the road, I see myself working in the consumer/lifestyle sector of public relations. I’ve always been drawn to working with companies that specialize in those types of clients. For now, I’m thrilled to be working at Peppercomm alongside an impressive array of professionals and mentors. I know that there is still a lot for me to learn and look forward to making the most of this opportunity.

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This week, meet the Intern Committee’s newest member, Sara Faxon, a New York native who loves the outdoors and spends her time hiking, cooking, and going to see live music. Sara supports the team in all areas from university relations to onboarding, and recruiting.

Ok, let’s get the basics out of the way. Where are you from and where did you go to school?

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SF: I split the early years of my childhood between London and New York but consider myself a true New Yorker. For college I went to Washington University in St. Louis. I loved my layover in the Midwest but am definitely happy to be back on the east coast.

How did you get into PR and Peppercomm?

SF: I was always interested in the ways in which people communicate and disseminate information. Whether that be through language or writing, the human connection continues to fascinate me. I guess that is what drove me to major in Anthropology and Writing in college. I found myself excelling in classes that involved forward thinking and collaboration, so when I graduated I knew I wanted to find a job that offered me a similar environment. Peppercomm was a perfect fit since it encourages team work and pushes you to think out of the box.

What is your go-to interview question?

SF: I always ask specific questions about a candidate’s past experience. While it is not necessary for them to have a background in public relations/communications coming into the internship, I look for people who can extract important skills or lessons from those past experiences and apply them to the field. It is always impressive and significant when someone can create a growth story from their past.

Capture What makes a great intern?

 SF: While this industry can definitely be overwhelming at times, I think it is important for interns to be willing and  open to adapt and jump in head first. A sense of curiosity is also necessary. At Peppercomm, our clients really run  the gamut from consumer to financial and B2B. A willingness to really understand your client and their goals will  definitely set one intern apart from the others.

 What is your favorite thing about Peppercomm?

 SF: For me, it is definitely the people and culture. Peppercomm creates such a supportive and fun environment but  also pushes me to produce great work. It’s hard to find an agency that really strikes that balance, perfectly. I’m  constantly surprised by how patient and willing people are to teach me knew things and let me in on industry  secrets. Peppercomm’s culture is also unlike anywhere else. We have a designated ‘culture committee’ that  organizes group activities like going to see a Broadway show, Dodgeball games and neighborhood tours!

 

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In today’s post, meet current Peppercomm NYC intern and future industry star, Carly Sylvester.

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

It all started in a small suburb of New Jersey (not Seaside, the only town people not from New Jersey can name thanks to my bff Snooki) called Rockaway. I was raised in the stereotypical fashion of an Italian from North Jersey – taking part in mob heists and fist pumping competitions, that is. I somehow ended up in Delaware calling myself a Blue Hen, which is possibly the worst mascot of all time, with the exception of UPenn’s Quaker, but I couldn’t be prouder to now call myself an alumni of The University of Delaware. It was there that I learned that my passion for writing, being creative and trying new things, and working with people could all be channeled into a successful career in public relations.

My journey with Peppercomm began (as most of my relationships do) with a dash of social media stalking. The lovely Sam Bruno and my sister are bridesmaid survivors of the same wedding, and through this mutual connection I was able to see the wonderful world of Peppercomm via Sam’s Instagram. Her regularly hash-tagged #ILoveMyJob posts had me question whether this “job” she spoke of had her brainwashed, or if this Peppercomm place was something I should seriously take a look at.

While brainwashing is only 5% of the job description here at Peppercomm, what my research into this wonderful organization told me was that I’d be a fool to not seek out a way to be a part of it. Experience has taught me that PR can be a very cold environment, but from the minute I opened Peppercomm’s website I felt nothing but warmth. I could sense immediately that the people who make up this organization are people who care – they genuinely care about their work, their clients, their client’s audiences, and most importantly each other. I knew finding a place that churns out such thoughtful and insightful work yet still maintains a relaxed and fun culture where people actually matter is a rarity, and before I knew it I was filling out an application, and the rest is history!

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

One of the things I find most intriguing about PR is the relational aspect of it all. From working with a journalist to launching a new product, you have to have a deep and clear understanding of the people you’re working with. My degrees are in communication and sociology, so I am all about getting to the bottom of who people are and establishing a connection with them. I love the idea that in order for our work with a client to be successful, we have to know who their target audience is as people. Who are they? How did they end up here? Why is this brand important to them? Understanding people’s backgrounds is so important for an array of industries, but I love that in PR you get to utilize them as a basis for a continued relationship.

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

This is my first time in an agency setting, so initially I was very taken aback at how many different hats I was expected to wear being on so many different accounts. Now that the initial shock has worn off, I’ve genuinely grown to love being able to jump from one industry to another throughout my days. I can go from financial research to looking at pictures of cheeseburgers (#RestaurantPR) in an instant. It’s been such an incredible experience for me to learn how to balance so many different roles – I feel so much more confident now going into the next steps of my career. What’s even better is that Peppercomm has given me real, hands-on experience to boost my confidence even further. I really feel like a part of the team here, not just an intern doing intern work.

Where do you see yourself going in the industry?

I’ve fallen especially in love with the consumer/lifestyle side of the industry because of the attention to detail and connection with respective audiences that is required. Now that I’ve been given a taste of agency life, I can’t see myself working in a different setting down the road. For now, I’m continuing to enjoy this amazing opportunity and soaking up all the new experiences Peppercomm has to offer!

 

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This week, meet your favorite animal lover, knitter and DIYer, Julie Hoang, one of the internship program’s university relations coordinators at Peppercomm. She helps to build better relationships with key universities through career fairs, job postings, networking events and shadowing programs, while her counter-part, David Jolly, handles most of the university opportunities on the west.

JH1Ok, let’s get the basics out of the way. Where are you from and where did you go to school?

JH: I was born and raised in New York and graduated from Syracuse University in upstate New York. I guess you can call me a true New Yorker!

How did you get into PR and Peppercomm?

JH: I didn’t go the traditional route and major in PR, but I did study communications. Growing up, I’ve always loved story-telling and still remember re-writing the ends of Disney’s fairytales.

I continued that passion throughout high school and ended up spear-heading my school paper as the editor-in-chief. Shortly graduating college with my major in communications, I started working at Walek & Associates, a financial services PR firm in NYC. The firm was then acquired by Peppercomm, which brings me here today.JH2

What are the main things you look for when reviewing resumes?

JH: While previous PR and media experience tops the list, it is certainly not limited to that. Cover letters are essential and we would rather choose a candidate who can clearly express their experience and how it relates to Peppercomm and the industry. The way the cover letter is written also provides us with a glimpse into how the candidate will interview.

What makes a great intern?

JH3JH: We don’t expect our interns to jump in on the first day knowing the ins and outs of PR, but it’s important for them to have a willingness to learn. For the interns that stand out, you can tell they have a passion to work at Peppercomm and to grow with it. Chris and David are great examples, as they started out as interns at Peppercomm, re-branded the internship program (on their own will) and are now full-time employees.

What is your favorite thing about Peppercomm?

JH: For me, it would be the ability to work across a variety of industries. Starting out in financial PR, it was hard to pull away from only financial work. Since joining Peppercomm, however, I’ve been able to work across many different industries including B2B, professional services, education, financial and consumer. Peppercomm also gave me the ability to work on internal accounts, such as Intern Committee.

 

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“Young man, are you listening to me?
I said, young man, what do you want to be?
I said, young man, you can make real your dreams.
But you got to know this one thing!”

If you’ve ever been to a Peppercomm event, seen their social media posts, or even been to the office, the culture that Peppercomm prides itself on is obvious. Yesterday we had our joint New York and San Francisco (via Skype) Halloween gathering, which included a costume contest among other things.

The interns felt we needed to go in and blow everyone’s socks off during the costume contest, and we did just that. We won the gold medal! Well actually there wasn’t a medal. It was just the gratification that we came out on top.

The PeppSquad as the Village People.

The PeppSquad as the Village People.

As you might be able to tell from the photo, we were the Village People.

“Collectively, we agreed to be The Village People, because we got a nice laugh at the music video,” said Leandra Abreu. When we were talking about exactly what we wanted to do for the costume contest, we knew we wanted to do a group costume. Although we’re all on different accounts, we sit next to each other all day long. We’re there for each other when others need help, an afternoon pick-me-up or just a laugh because something funny happened.

“We are free to engage in fun and play at Peppercomm. This kind of culture means costume contests, witch hunts, candy (everyday) and most importantly, represents the value of employees here. As our friends the Village People would say, “many ways to have a good time… It’s fun to stay at the Y.M.C.A (and Peppercomm),” added Kristiana Monterosso.

“At Peppercomm, I feel like we’re encouraged to be ourselves. I appreciate that in a company,” said Sidney Encarnacion.

“It honestly makes you look forward to coming to work,” replied Ashwin Mallya.

The culture that Peppercomm has was something we knew we needed to get in on. If you ask us, we think we did just that.

For Carly Sylvester, “It means getting to wear an awesome headlamp to work and do the YMCA in a judgment free zone.”

 

*This post was written by the PeppSquad.
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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