Atzallali Saucedo-Ruiz ’21 Marketing & Communications Internship at United Way of Lake County (Gurnee, IL)

Atzallali (at-sah-yah-lee) is quite the rare name. It means “Queen of the Swans” and it’s Aztec. I’m a rising junior at Skidmore College and I’m majoring in both Management & Business and Psychology (possibly minoring in Gender Studies). This summer I was given the opportunity to be a Marketing & Communications intern at United Way of Lake County (UWLC) in Gurnee, IL. Being an intern at UWLC was an amazing experience that I was able to have thanks to the generous donors who support Skidmore’s CDC Summer Experience Fund.  Not only did I learn how to utilize different programs, specifically adobe ones, but I got to experience being part of a company that has a positive impact in my community. 

During the Spring of 2019, I was applying to many different internships in Illinois. While doing research I stumbled across the United Way of Lake County website. As I was looking at their different internships one of them caught my eye.

“Work with the Marketing Department independently and with the team to implement and coordinate press and community relations through publicity and promotion with press, agencies, companies and staff. Assist Social Media team with enhancing United Way of Lake County’s presence on social networks and coordinate special projects, including collaborations and community visibility.”

It sounded exactly like the kind of internship I wanted this summer! I emailed them and after a few weeks I received a response from them saying that they would love to interview me. It was no coincidence that I so happened to be in IL during that week (spring break). When I entered their office, in Gurnee, I was a bit nervous because I had never had a marketing internship before and I wasn’t familiar with the programs that I would be using throughout the summer. During that interview I met my two amazing supervisors: Cynthia Zimmerman and Jennifer Strom. The interview went really well and I had a great feeling about being in that office. Once summer began and I started working with UWLC I felt right away that this was going to be a different experience from the other internships I have had in the past.

I’ve had an amazing time being their intern because they really care about the community and they do their best at helping families and children that need a hand. They care about people’s well-being and are always looking for new ways to help out. In addition, as their intern I felt very welcomed and was never afraid to ask for help. They always looked out for me and included me in everything. As the internship continued, the level of autonomy I had in my projects increased to the point where I led an interview blog series and created/presented proposals to potentially increase the amount of donations they receive! I felt trusted and very excited to take on projects that were just mine. 

My favorite part about being an intern at UWLC was getting to know the staff and seeing how much fun working can be when you’re at a company that shares your values. My proudest moment was when I developed 2 advertisement videos that promoted one of our biggest summer drives called “Stuff the Bus”. This drive collected school supplies for the children in our community that could not afford them otherwise. I created both English and Spanish versions for both of the videos that were published on different social media platforms. With this project I was able to learn that a simple pack of pencils and someone who cares means a lot to a child and can completely change their lives.

 In addition, I had the cool experience of seeing firsthand the process of filming a new video that will be used to promote a new program in my community. This program will serve as a hotline to help individuals with whatever they need. It was a fun experience to talk with the actors and the director throughout filming (I even got to set up a few scenes!). I was also asked for my input in the final version and to help translate the scripts so that a Spanish version would be created. I cannot wait to see the video playing in different platforms in a few months!

I’m really sad this summer is ending because UWLC is the type of company I wish to work for some day. When I go back to Skidmore, I will have a new perspective of what marketing is capable of. I’m excited to see UWLC continue to help individuals in need. I had a blast! 

For anyone looking for internships, this upcoming summer and/or during the academic year, my number one tip would be to not stress. You will be placed wherever you need to be and the experience you gain will be amazing. Enjoy life one day at a time because everything is going to be alright.

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