Reflections on an internship with Gard Communications

Earlier this month, our summer intern, Jennifer Mendez-Ruiz, finished up her stint with Gard. It was a great run, and we appreciated not only the fantastic work she did, but the wonderful person she is.

Before we let her get on to her next promising chapter, we asked her to reflect a bit on her time with us. Here’s what she had to say. (And thanks, Jennifer! We miss you already and wish you the best of luck!)

Jennifer Mendez-Ruiz, Gard intern in 2021, posing on a street lined with palm trees.

What did you enjoy most?
I most enjoyed working on the process that goes into preparing to pitch out a story. I learned most when I was given the chance to complete a task on my own, such as populating a press release, then preparing to send it out to media contacts and ultimately reaching out to them. The pitching process itself can be tedious, but in the event that I could manage to land a story, it was nice to witness the result of my work.

What was most challenging aspect?
The most challenging aspect for me was finding ways to juggle the variety of tasks and projects at once. I learned that while some of the work is very fast-paced and deadline oriented, the other side of the work can often involve waiting to hear back from clients or waiting to meet with clients until we can move forward., I remember there was one week where I was struggling to manage pitching for one client, but also waiting to hear back from another, and also being brought on to work on a separate account. As an intern, I wanted to be able to get the most that I could out of my experience, but I found that in doing so, it may have been better for me to prioritize a few accounts rather than trying them all out.

What did you learn during your internship that you didn’t know before that feels crucial to your career development?
Working with the media. As someone who wants to work in the media industry and assisting in facilitating communications, I personally feel as though it is a skill that I missed out learning about in school. I was surprised at how easy it is to just call a newsroom in order to contact someone about a press release. I feel this is personally crucial to my development because I learned how to communicate with reporters and be direct in what I was asking for.

Another thing I learned that I consider to be crucial is gaining more experience in writing in the voice of a brand or client. I was able to gain a new perspective on what it takes to write something in the voice of the client that you are representing. I really peaked when my colleague, Natalie, allowed me to help create the social media toolkit for the Hidden Bottle Hunt for OBRC. It’s hard for me to imagine where else I could have gained such valuable experience.

If you were going to recommend Gard to a friend as a workplace, what would you say? I would say Gard consists of some of the most inspiring and hard-working people in the industry. They make you feel welcome and included enough to begin challenging you right away, so prepare to learn a lot. They also truly believe in each of their associates’ potential and will work with you to discover what you haven’t tapped in to yet. The work itself can sometimes be instantly gratifying; other times it’s more of a slow burn. But Gard values success for its clients just as much as they value success in each of their associates, and they will be sure to demonstrate that. The environment itself is very family-like. As a smaller firm, everyone really knows everyone, and that helps to contribute a sense of understanding amongst the team when life happens. The team I worked with really trusted me to complete my work, especially in a virtual setting, and that empowered me to want to deliver the best quality of work. I went in to the internship unsure if public relations was a career that I wanted to pursue, yet Gard still took a chance on me and I’ll always be thankful for the opportunity that I was given.