How Being an Unpaid Intern Totally Paid Off

By Charlotte Johnson

This time a year ago I had no idea how important my internship at Verde would be in shaping my career as a public relations professional. In May I was promoted from intern to Account Coordinator and now work with Chamois Butt’r, IZIP and the California Coastal Classic. It all started when I found Verde Brand Communications at CU Boulder’s spring career fair with the idea that I wanted to do something in the field of public relations. Once I met Junior Account Manager Chris Primavera, I eagerly went home to learn more about this company and instantly knew I wanted to be part of the Verde family.

When I started working at Verde as a KEEN intern I had no idea how quickly Verde would start giving me hands on experience. That summer I worked on the Live Monumental campaign drafting media lists, sending out pitches, calling radio stations and whatever else was needed of me. Working on KEEN’s  Live Monumental campaign was a great way to gain experience in Public Relations as I was put in high pressure situations that shaped the way I handle my current accounts. It quickly taught me that perseverance and hard work pay off, even if I sent out 200 pitches and only got three responses. I remember calling radio station after radio station and then finally getting the call that KXL-FM in Portland, Ore. was going to run our story about Live Monumental. It was one of the best moments during my time as an intern.

After being an intern at Verde for just a month I had already landed a broadcast radio hit. That moment really showed me that sending out hundreds of pitches and making dozens of phone calls was worth it for that moment alone. At the end of the summer it all came together at a Live Monumental event in Boulder. There were dozens of people signing our petition, drinking beer and having a great time. It was an amazing moment to look around and see what I had worked on all summer successfully come together.

Verde at #LiveMonumental, Boulder Colo.

The Verde team at Live Monumental, Boulder Colo.

After working that summer, I wasn’t ready to leave Verde yet so I stayed on the KEEN account through the fall helping promote their fall and winter footwear lines. This gave me a completely different kind experience where I was writing and sending out my own pitches. I even landed my very own hit in Houston Family Magazine, another one of my favorite moments during my time here at Verde. I decided to intern again during the spring semester to work with more of our clients across multiple industries. As I was gearing up to graduate, the support and guidance from Chris and other Verdeans made my experience as an unpaid intern fully pay off.

During the week of graduation I officially applied to Verde for an Account Coordinator position, and sure enough I got the job and didn’t have to leave Verde at all! I attribute all my success and where I am now to all of the Verdeans who helped me along the way.

Here’s my advice for future Verde interns:

  • Save EVERYTHING you do at this internship. The work you do here will help you find a job once you graduate. Make a portfolio of all your saved work as you go along.
  • Make strong relationships with the people around you. The people you’re working under have so much experience and wisdom to share, so listen and take notes.
  • Bring headphones for days you have to pitch or make media lists, it will make the copying and pasting less tedious.
  • You can take the lessons learned at Verde and apply them in the real world from using Microsoft programs to email etiquette.
  • The connections you make at Verde will last a lifetime, don’t be afraid to reach out even when your time here is done.
  • Never be afraid to ask questions.
  • Be realistic about your timelines and make sure that when you tell someone you will do something, you will actually be able to do it.
  • You will make mistakes, just make sure you learn from them.
  • Go to the happy hours; it’s a great way to bond with the staff and get free drinks and food!
  • Remember to take a deep breath once in awhile. What might seem stressful now will pay off with hands on experience that will make you stand out for future job opportunities.
  • Lastly, enjoy your time at Verde! There aren’t many other workplaces like this one, so make your time count.

Posted in Events, Verde Culture | Tagged: internship, outdoor PR internship, public relations internship, verde intern


Charlotte Johnson