From Intern to Full Time Employee? Kiara Hernández of DOT Communications' Experience
Kiara was the first person who ever contacted me to send me some products from one of her brands she works with at DOT Communications, back when ambinity was just a baby. I still remember the excitement! She was one of the first people who clearly believed in me and has been a great supporter of ambinity ever since. She even referred me to Alfredo Monterola, the Makeup Artist & Spoke Person for L'Oreal Paris Puerto Rico, so I could interview him for one of my firsts career profiles!
I always admired that with such a young age (she's currently 23!), Kiara has that much passion and dedication towards her job. She even describes her job's creative process as feeling butterflies in her belly! I mean, who wouldn't feel passionate about working with Maybelline, Garnier, Essie, NYX and L'Oreal?! So when I found out she was an intern at DOT Communications before going full time, I knew I had to interview her for the Intern Diaries series. Hope you enjoy it!
What did you study in college and why?
I studied Advertising and Public Relations in the School of Communication at the University of Puerto Rico (UPR), Río Piedras Campus.
My dad was a radio host for a long time, so that's where I first got my influence in the communications industry. And to be really honest, I first heard about the term "public relations" from Kelly Cutrone back in high school. In that moment I wanted to do what she was doing because she was THE boss. I loved that she didn't wear trendy clothing or wear a lot of makeup.
Did you have good grades in college?
Yeah, I really did. But I wasn't a nerd; I would study to get good grades, but I wasn't a book worm.
Do you think it was important to have good grades in order to do your job right today?
I don't believe that having a 4.0 should be your only goal in college because I honestly feel like your experiences are your presentation card. Like for example, if I had the chance to hire someone for my team right now, I would value much more their experiences, their internships or studying abroad programs. All those things open up your perspective to the world and give you empathy for other people.
I always recommend to do two things during college: 1) Do an internship and 2) study abroad.
Have you traveled?
Yes, I studied abroad at the Universidad de Málaga in Spain.
College can help you a lot in your growth as a person, but if you don't travel to different places you will never value what your are taught at home. I am more aware than ever that the UPR is outstanding. I came back prouder than ever to say that I studied Communication at the UPR!
What was your first job during college?
I was a student assistant at the Jose M. Lázaro Library at the UPR. I did a lot of things like checking everyone's bags to make sure no one was stealing stuff and worked at the information desk to make sure people knew where to find the right information they were looking for.
I also received a lot of academic journals that I had to catalog, which was an experience that really helped my career. That's how I got informed about news from around the world. I learned how to step out of my shell and get comfortable with the world's media.
Did you have any other jobs that helped you grow during college?
My first "real" job before graduating college was at the Puerto Rico's edition of the Real Estate Book Magazine. Here I did a little bit of everything; from sales to coordination with designers. Since it was such a small team, I learned a lot about account management. I even once shot the cover picture of the magazine!
How did you balanced work and school?
I did my internship while working as an assistant student and every weekend I would go back to Fajardo, my hometown, to work at my uncle's tripleta business, La Jaltera. I did these three things for like a year! Even though I had the privilege of having parents who could provide the basics for me, I still had to go grocery shopping, pay for gas, my personal expenses and so on.
I've been working since I was 14 years old, so I've always known that if I want something, I have to work for it. You could say I'm a hustler!
But did you have a social life?!
I did have a social life. I feel like my last year of high school and my first two years of college were really my time to party. But after that, I really wasn't interested in going out that much. Even to this day, I would rather do nothing at home. That is my guilty pleasure!
I also believe that once you start working at such a young age, you have a sense of responsibility that helps you balance life. But don't get me wrong, I still had days where I asked myself what am I even doing?! Is this even worth it? But that is normal, because I always had a clear goal in my mind. Just breath deeply and if you have to cry, cry. If you have to laugh hysterically, do it!
How did you find out about the internship opportunity at DOT Communications?
During my time in COPU I had the opportunity of doing an internship for university credits, which is not mandatory, but I still enrolled. We had to do three different interviews in different work environments, and I ended up here: in my version of Kelly Cutrone!
How was that interview like?
The person who interviewed me was Deliana Olmo (DOT Communications' president) and it was actually a very quick interview. But she did asked me for a portfolio of my school projects.
How was your first day at DOT Communications?
Everybody was super welcoming and I had a few mentors, which is great. I was like, "this is it! This is my Kelly [Cutrone] moment!" I remember I came into the office in heels and a full face of makeup for like a week. Now I am all about a messy bun and a little bit of moisturizer and we're set!
What was your first duty as an intern?
Since it was the first day, clippings and reports. Basic intern duties!
What was your most memorable event during your internship?
During my first week, I had already attended a press event, where I had to work at the press registry! I was super nervous, but I really appreciated the opportunity. Usually you hear about internships where interns are just running for coffee and basic errands. But in DOT that was really not my case. I assisted in a lot of events; from simple sit down lunches to big events like San Juan Moda. I really love that DOT gives interns the opportunity to do more than just clippings.
How did you control the nervousness of the first few days?
By practicing and actually doing what I was asked to do. That is the most important thing. Instead of just saying "this is not my thing" or "I'm not doing it right, I'm doing something else", just do it. That is the only way you will eventually find the confidence you need.
What was the favorite part of your internship experience?
Everyone still receives me with open arms. It is not an office where people don't talk or look at each other. The DOT culture is very friendly and welcoming and we really try to cultivate that each day in order to bring more joy into our environment.
Also I really enjoy that they give interns the opportunity to do so much more than just the basics. That is the way to open your eyes into what the industry actually is.
How did the full time job position came about?
Everything was kind of a chain of events. I did my internship from September to December 2014, but since there was so much work during my last month, they asked me to stay for a little longer. So that's how from December 2014 to June 2015 I was a part time freelancer by coming to the office three days a week! Then in June 2015 I became a full time employee.
What has been your favorite part of working at DOT?
I love working in a place where I get to develop and express my creativity daily. From basic planning to massive national campaigns. Everyday is a new stepping stone in my position and with everyday come new challenges and exciting moments. And obviously, who wouldn't love working in the beauty industry surrounded by endless choices of lipstick?
What would you tell other girls who want to make it in Public Relations?
This is not what people tell you in the streets, it is not what they tell you in college, and it is definitely not what it seems. A lot of girls ask me how I got my job, because "it's so cool", but it is not about sitting anywhere and putting on makeup. This is hard work and you HAVE to like it in order to voluntarily be in all the stress we are constantly in. If you don't love what you do, you won't be happy. There's no happy medium.
What advice will you give to someone who wants an internship in public relations?
Do a good research so you don't accept whatever offer comes your way. Also, be humble, because there's a good chance you will be working for free at first and it won't necessarily be a dream internship. But don't waste opportunities! You never know which doors will open. It's all about networking.
What mistake you remember making during your first days at DOT communications and how did you fix it?
I used to assume that everyone had the same work ethics as I do. You have to learn to work with other people, because the way you do your job is not necessarily the only way or right way to do it. I am not saying I work better than other people, but it is a learning process. I still struggle with this.
Do you feel like your experience in Public Relations was more important than your education?
It is not about good grades, but my experience at the UPR helped me break out of my shell. I don't think education is important in terms of being a nerd or book worm, but it is key in terms of opening up your mind to new perspectives.
Weather you like it or not, the UPR helps you be super independent!
What is the biggest lesson you have taken out of all these experiences?
Regardless of all lessons I've had, the most important has to be that I did not settle. I learned to step out of my comfort zone if I don't feel at my full capacity. That's how you know this is not the place or industry for you. Make sure that you're doing what you know you are meant to do.
What advice will you give your 18 year old self?
Don't be afraid and don't doubt yourself. Always have a next goal in mind!
What is the best part about working in Public Relations?
Even though DOT is a PR firm, we do a lot more. I love everything that has to do with the creative process. Like executing a digital strategy and taking it to the next level. That is what fills me with energy! Once you start developing that idea and you see the end result it's like BOOM! Star moment! And you feel all the butterflies in your belly.
This or That with Kiara:
- Dog or cat: DOG!
- Coffee or tea: Coffee
- Heels or platforms: Platforms
- Lipstick or liquid lipstick: Lipstick
- Snapchat Stories or Instagram Stories: Snapchat
- Morning or night: Night
- Mansion or yacht: Yacht. I am from Fajardo, Puerto Rico!
- Beach or countryside: Beach!
- Shoes or purses: Shoes, because I hate purses. If it were for me, I would use a man's wallet every day.
- Smokey eyes or cat eyes: Cat eyes
If you are interested in applying for the internship program at DOT Communications, you can email your resume at email@example.com. Just remember to include your college year, name of school, in which area would you like to work at and why you should be chosen to be part of DOT's intern team.
If you would like to read more career profiles like these, click here. As always, don't forget to share this post with your friends if you found it useful and subscribe to my newsletter so you never miss a blog post. :)
Until next time,