Building Culture and Learning From Your Co-Workers: A Conversation With Julia Pontius By Connie Reyes Lopez

Building Culture and Learning From Your Co-Workers: A Conversation With Julia Pontius

By: Connie Reyes Lopez


Julia mentions LinkedIn in the interview, you can check hers out here, and connect with her!


Most of you have probably experienced hunting for an internship! Coupled with the vast amount of choices and competition, it’s never quite smooth sailing; your chances of landing your dream internship the first time aren’t always high! However, it’s possible, and fellow USF colleague Julia Pontius can show us how and what it is like!


Meet Julia, a senior working on a bachelor of arts in communication studies who has been working at her first internship at Narvar for over a year now. She loves it!


Q: From what I understand, Narvar is an e-commerce tech company that helps with customer experience. How do you answer what Narvar does when people ask?


Julia: Narvar’s motto is to simplify the lives of the everyday consumer. Narvar’s the middle man of the retailer and customer, so we focus on strengthening that relationship. We provide a tracking experience for customers of online retailers and market for them as a company.


Q: What are your responsibilities? What do your days look like?


Julia: My role has changed. Narvar lets me do what I like and lets me not do what I don’t like. For example, I started with social media, then did a lot of events, and now I do marketing analytics and campaigns. We just expanded to the United Kingdom, so I’m doing a lot of work with that too!


Q: Do you think your ability to wear different hats is due to the team being small?


Julia:  I started as the 40th employee, and now we’re at 200 employees. In the beginning, Narvar didn’t have an organized role for me, they just wanted some help. It was kind of all over the place. I enjoyed it because I never got bored. Now I have a defined role, which is marketing.


Q: I saw on LinkedIn you’re a “Women at Narvar Network” member. Can you talk about that?


Julia: What we do is connect women at Narvar. What we want is more women in leadership at software companies. Statistics show almost all vice presidents are men, like ours. So what we do is host events— such as women speaking series— where women speak on how they’ve gotten to where they are.


Q: What classes and skills do you think have been the most helpful as an intern?


Julia: In the real world, you work with different people. You don’t end up liking everyone, and when you’re the lowest on the totem pole, sometimes people will take credit for your work. In classes, I’ve learned how to be assertive and better communicate. When I get angry, my natural expression is to be mad and treat someone poorly. We know from classes that isn’t how you get what you want. Knowing how to deal with conflict is important.


Q: Why did you decide to intern at Narvar?


Julia: I didn’t have any professional experience and had no idea what Narvar was. I applied there, looked up what they were, and realized “this is a cool company.” I went in for interviews, clicked with the vice president and senior director of marketing, and got hired. I walked into the office and felt welcomed. People were happy I was there and wanted to learn from me. I think that’s very indicative of what company you’re interning for.


Q: What have you learned from Narvar? How has Narvar prepared you?


Julia: From the get-go, people invested time in teaching me and didn’t have to. I feel like what I have to offer other companies is a lot of experiences with software and programming. I got to put it into practice.


Q: How did you find this internship?


Julia: I used different outlets to find internships. The main ones I used were LinkedIn, and Indeed. I get many job offers on LinkedIn of companies just saying, “Hey come work for us,” so I think keeping a strong LinkedIn is important.


Q: What advice would you give to students looking for internships?


Julia: When you’re going to interview with a company, know the company like the back of your hand. Understand who you’re talking about. What I’ve also done is talked to people and asked, “Hey what was your journey to get to this point?” Learning from the path they took, and learning from their mistakes is helpful.




Internship Ideas: Brittany at St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital

I have exciting news to share about our department blog! We have partnered with our COMS 323: Writing for Public Relations students who will all be writing guest posts for our blog! This means, more posts, more often, and a great way to provide writing experience for our COMS majors and PR minors! A big thank you to Professor Stoddard for working with me on this!

Up first is a post by COMS senior Kianna Fernandez about COMS senior Brittany Olivar and her current internship with St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital. (Don’t you love that… a blog post about a COMS major written by another COMS major!). Take it away Kianna…

With the internship class in full swing, senior Brittany Olivar had an opportunity to put her passion to work at her new job. Brittany is working on a Bachelor of Arts in communication studies with a health studies minor. Entering college she was a pre-nursing major but quickly realized that was not what she loved. Now she is blending her two passions of public relations with a health care focus through her internship.

Brittany Olivar helped at the St. Jude’s Walk/Run to End Childhood Cancer on September 24, 2016, in San Francisco.

Brittany Olivar helped at the St. Jude’s Walk/Run to End Childhood Cancer on September 24, 2016, in San Francisco.

Q: Where do you intern, and what do you do?

Brittany: “I am interning for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. The point of the organization is that, no matter what service is received, parents do not receive a bill for treatment.”

Q: What is your job title?

Brittany: “I am a field operations intern.”

Q: What do you do on a daily basis for the position?

Brittany: “Honestly, it sounds so cheesy, but no day is the same. Generally when I first get into the office, I say hi to everyone and check my emails and voicemail. Then I go from there. Nothing is the same. I will either be calling businesses in the area, or I will be putting together a spreadsheet of an outreach list, or I’ll be preparing a social media post. I feel like I do multiple things. It just depends on what event is coming up and then go from there. That’s honestly what I love about the internship; no two days are the same. I feel that I am getting a lot of experience in different ways, and that’s what I love.”

Q: How did you find this internship?

Brittany: “It was honestly completely random. It was over the summer, and I was on an internship job board site. I didn’t have an internship over the summer, and I really wanted one for the fall. So, I just typed in health care communication to see what would pop up because just typing communications seemed way too broad. Then the opportunity popped up. I ended up just going to the St. Jude’s website and applied directly through them.”

Q: Why did you decide to intern at St. Jude’s?

Brittany: “I feel like it was the perfect fit because of my major and minor. I felt I could bring a lot of my background and what I’m interested in into the work I would do with the organization. Also, the mission of the organization really resonates with me. Even now, working with them, I realize how amazing it is because everyone is genuinely passionate about what he or she is doing. It’s nice to know the work I’m doing is bigger than myself.”

Q: What have you learned from this internship already?

Brittany: “I thought it was really cool when I was added as an administrator to some of the main St. Jude’s social media pages. I am on Facebook more for personal use, so to be added on as an administrator was a big responsibility. It was cool to see the behind-the-scenes of what goes into making a functioning page, like seeing who has viewed your post, how many views this post has reached, and seeing the behind-the-scenes of analytics. One thing I never knew was that you could schedule posts if you own a page. It’s really awesome when I think of something really cool. I can schedule it to post in two days for the perfect timing. I’ve learned to do that.”

Q: What advice would you have for other students looking for an internship?

Brittany: “When you are looking for an internship, don’t just leave it at communications sometimes. Think of different positions or even organizations that you would be interested in interning. Field operations intern definitely did not sound like communications intern. Just explore different companies and different options. It sounds really cheesy, but don’t give up. I feel like there became a period during spring going into summer when I was thinking that I might not be on the right path because I didn’t have an internship. The most important thing I’ve learned out of this is to not give up. Find something you are really passionate about and have a love for. Everything has a way of working itself out the way it’s supposed to work out.”

Congratulations Brittany, on interning with such a great organization!


Internship Ideas: Ingrid at Marie Claire Magazine in NYC


Ingrid, ready to take on NYC!

Some of you may know senior Communication Studies major Ingrid Van Diest. Well, I have known Ingrid for several years now and have had her in three classes. And each class that she has taken from me has met three days a week. So three classes, three days a week… that’s a lot of days of class. Which brings me to my point: In all those days of class I don’t think I have ever seen Ingrid wear yoga pants. Or sweats. Or leggings. No, Ingrid is always dressed up in a perfectly put together ensemble. So of course it was no surprise that she is interested in fashion! When I found out that she was an intern at fashion magazine Marie Claire this past summer, I asked if she would share her experiences with us…

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Internship Ideas: Brittany at the DA's Office

During an advising appointment a few weeks ago, I found out that one of my currents students and advisees is doing an internship that I would have loved to have when I was an undergrad! No, she is not interning at a cupcake bakery. She is working as an intern at the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office! Dah dum! (Those were the Law & Order chimes, in case you couldn’t tell). I asked junior Communication Studies major Brittany Silveira if she would be willing to share her internship experience with us here on the blog.

Here she is…

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Q: Where do you intern and what do they do?

Brittany: “I intern at the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office and their office investigates and prosecutes crime in San Francisco while also supporting victims of crime. I work in the Communications department where they organize media and community events, organize the Department’s outreach materials, and track news stories.”

Q: How did you find this internship?

Brittany: “I heard about this internship in one of the emails about internship opportunities from Christine Lee.” (The COMS Department Program Assistant Extraordinaire!)

Q: Why did you decide to intern there?

Brittany: “I decided to intern there because they worked with the news, social media, and events, which are all careers paths that I consider taking. Also, the internship gives you an inside look at the criminal justice system and a chance to work around many lawyers, which really connected to me because I am considering law school after graduation.”

Q: What do you do on a regular basis at your internship?

Brittany: “Everyday I track news stories that the DA is featured in, along with news stories about local crime and law enforcement, as well as articles about local politics here in San Francisco. Every week I write up sample tweets about whatever policy the DA is working on. From that list, he and his team choose which ones will be sent out on his Twitter and Facebook. And I usually do a lot of research on policies that the DA wants to change and compare them to other surrounding counties.”

Q: What did you learn from this internship?

Brittany: “At this internship I learned a lot about assisting the media and community relations. As well as learning to track the news. I was never one to stay updated with what was going on, but now I know which stations and papers have better perspectives of what is going on in the Bay Area. I also learned a lot about networking through all of my phone calls with NY Times or the SF Chronicle as well local officers and school officials.”

Q: What advice do you have for other students looking for an internship?

Brittany: “Advice that I would offer other students is check your emails from Christine Lee! They are very helpful and easy ways to find job openings. But the biggest piece of advice would be do not be scared to put yourself out there and just turn in your resume. Even I didn’t think I would stand a chance at working in the DA’s office, but in the end I was one of the final two chosen for the position.”

Congratulations, Brittany! Thanks for sharing your experience at the DA’s office!


Internship Ideas Class Edition: Chelsea-Marie at Boutine

Our summer profiles of inspiring internships continue! Up next is senior Chelsea-Marie Sundiang and her internship at Boutine Inc. Many of you may already be familiar with Chelsea-Marie because she is not only a Communication Studies major but a popular fashion blogger! How popular, you ask? Well, her online project for my Interpersonal Communication course received over FIFTEEN THOUSAND (YES, 15,000!) views in less than a 24 hour period! I am not often left speechless, but I am still speechless over this. Speech. Less. But I digress… here is Chelsea-Marie sharing her internship experience at Boutine:

Fashion blogger extraordinaire Chelsea-Marie

Fashion blogger extraordinaire Chelsea-Marie

Q: Where did you intern and what do they do?

Chelsea-Marie: “I intern for Boutine Inc. It’s a startup fashion company that allows emerging designers to showcase and sell their clothing online.”

Q: How did you find this internship?

Chelsea-Marie: “As an avid fashion blogger, I stumbled upon a post on fashionista.com with a list of fashion internships and this was the only one in the San Francisco area!”

Q: Why did you decide to intern there?

Chelsea-Marie: “Besides Boutine being a local internship, I really wanted something that would introduce me to the fashion industry and be a stepping stone for me to work my way up/test the waters rather than dive right in to an established fashion company that could easily overwhelm me. I also wanted to be a part of something where I could say I was a contributing factor to the growth of its success and a startup company is where I felt more comfortable and confident doing that.”

Q: What did you do on a regular basis at your internship?

Chelsea-Marie: “My usual routine at Boutine would be coming into the office bright and early in the morning; researching, writing about, and uploading products to the site; contacting and interviewing designers and bloggers via email, skype, and/or in person; going out into the city and taking street-style photos of well dressed people and recommending our website to them; and updating our social media sites.”

Q: What have you learned from this internship?

Chelsea-Marie: “I’ve learned the importance of making your voice be heard. If you really want you, your work, and your talent to be acknowledged, you not only have to do what your boss says, but also go above and beyond that with your own flare. There’s no way you can make a name for yourself in the fashion industry if you’re just simply going by the book. You have to take a lot of risks and constantly be creating ideas and planning how to execute them. Looking back on how unafraid I was to speak my mind and suggest my ideas made me realize how ready I am to take what I know and love about fashion to the next level.”

Q: What advice do you have for other students looking for an internship?

Chelsea-Marie: “You know that cliché, ‘You’ll never know unless you give it a try’? Take advantage of that saying when you’re looking for an internship. If an internship position interests you, by all means go for it and find out if it REALLY is interesting. It’s kind of like dating too, I guess; if it doesn’t work out, then you know what to look for and expect next time around.  Also, as important as it is to look the part, you have to BE the part. From the interview, all the way down to doing tasks on the job, if you don’t look or feel like you belong, you don’t. Interning for Boutine, I felt right at home and totally in my zone when it came to the journalist/PR and fashion aspect of the job but it was really obvious how out of place I was every time I had to sit in the office and look at and/or discuss numbers and figures about products. I now know for sure that I can’t be a part of something that limits my creative and artistic ability and I dyed half of my head platinum blonde to express that since most office jobs require a very ‘natural’ and Plain-Jane look.”

Thanks for sharing your advice, Chelsea-Marie! We have a lot of Communication Studies majors who are interested in pursuing a career in fashion, so all of you budding fashionistas out there, listen and learn from Chelsea-Marie!


Internship Ideas Class Edition: Landon at Charles Zukow Associates

Summer is upon us and while many of you students out there are relaxing and enjoying your school-free summer (or summer school, for some of you!), I’m sure many of you are already thinking about internships for the next school year. To help inspire you, I’ll be (finally) posting some internship profiles here on the blog. First up is recently minted Communication Studies graduate Landon Boren, BA, ’13!

Landon, '13 COMS graduate!

Landon, ’13 COMS graduate!

Q: Where did you intern and what do they do?

Landon: “I interned for an entertainment and lifestyle public relations firm called Charles Zukow Associates. They focus on doing publicity locally in San Francisco, and work with clients such as Beach Blanket Babylon, the San Francisco General Hospital Foundation, Disney On Ice, and Ghirardelli Square.”

Q: How did you find this internship?

Landon: “I found this internship through signing up for the Communication Studies Internship course!” Side note: Charles Zukow Associates has a long history of hiring COMS majors as interns! They contact us each semester and they are an excellent internship! So be on the lookout if you want the opportunity to intern at CZA!

Q: Why did you decide to intern there?

Landon: “I decided to intern here because it seemed like a place with excellent connections within the city, and an impressive client history. With working from everything such as the Mark Hopkins to the Union Square Ice Rink, I could tell it would be a place where I would grow.”

Q: What did you do on a regular basis at this internship?

Landon: “I would help re-organize and update existing contact lists in the CZA system, do blogger outreach, put media drops together, help discover the advertising rates of local media to create prices for publicity, answer phones, fax, and run miscellaneous errands (such as picking up party favors for a benefit event that night).”

Q: What have you learned from this internship?

Landon: “I have learned how to be self-sufficient and solve my own questions/problems, how to speak to the media, how to put together press packages, blogger outreach, and how one connection in the industry can lead to a hundred more.”

Q: What advice do you have for other students looking for an internship?

Landon: “Do your research!! It is so important to intern at place that is right for you. If that means stalking the website and seeing what ties the business has in your industry, so be it. Make sure that the business is reputable, professional, and can advance you. Be keenly aware of the vibe that you get when you first walk into the office, and how you feel in regard to your interaction with the employees working there. If it doesn’t seem like a nurturing environment where people will guide and help you, you might want to re-consider if it is the place you should choose.

One piece of advice that I want to give from my own personal experience is that you should always be on your best behavior and act professionally. You never know who is going to walk in the door when you are unprepared and get a bad impression from you. I will admit that there were a couple times this semester when I would take little breaks from working to be on my phone, and that is not something that looks good to your supervisor!”

Thanks, Landon, for sharing your experiences at CZA! We hope you keep in touch with us now that you are an alum! We will be waiting to receive your business card!