Journalist, traveler, Bieber believer: Meet Gard’s summer intern

She’s a native Oregonian, the first in her family to leave home for college, and an avid Justin Bieber fan who considers a lucky meeting with the pop star the apex of her teenage years.
Jennifer Mendez-Ruiz, Gard intern in 2021.

Now, starting this month, Jennifer Mendez-Ruiz is an intern with us here at Gard. She joined us through the internship program of Emerging Leaders (The Script), which matches underrepresented college students and recent graduates with paid internships all over Portland.

Read on to find out a little more about Jennifer’s path thus far, including that bout of Bieber Fever. 

Tell us a little about your background and how you got interested in journalism.

I was born in Eugene and raised in Salem. Growing up, my family always cared about what was happening in our community and staying informed. We would tune in each night to watch the 10 o’clock news, and we were loyal subscribers to our local paper. In high school, I was part of both the newspaper club and the leadership club. When I discovered the University of Oregon had a historic journalism program (the oldest journalism school west of the Mississippi), it seemed like a natural fit for me.

Why were you interested in the Emerging Leaders internship program?

I had heard about the great experiences some of my peers had in participating with Emerging Leaders. When I looked into it, I noticed that I shared the program’s value of wanting to give back to the community and help foster more career opportunities for marginalized communities. In college, I often found myself gravitating to roles where I could mentor and support first-year students, particularly first-generation students like me who had moved away from their families. I hope to one day be in a position where I can continue to mentor people in my career.

What appealed to you about working for Gard?

I was interested in Gard after learning more about their values in giving back and their company culture. I saw myself reflected in the work that they do and the clients they support. I admired the loyalty within the team and was inspired by the female leadership and collaborative nature of the company.

What do you like to do when you’re not working for Gard?

In a pre-pandemic world, I enjoyed traveling domestically. The summer before my senior year of college, I spent each weekend in August in a different city and was able to visit Washington D.C., Chicago and Los Angeles. I also have fun attending concerts at the Moda Center in Portland.

During the pandemic, I have been reading more, particularly titles from communications professionals in politics. It was a great way to prepare for my internship working for Congressman Kurt Schrader.

What’s something unique about you?

I’ve met a number of musicians and celebrities through winning contests hosted by the local radio stations in Portland. Growing up, I was a loyal and dedicated Justin Bieber fan. In fact, when he came to perform at the Moda Center in 2016, I entered a contest to win a free meet and greet and won. It was the highlight of my adolescent years.