Meet the interns

Korinn Ruiz

Kiersten Doerffler, a smiling blonde communication major in her second year at City College, said she is learning a lot about her field these days. But it’s not necessarily from the classroom.

Doerffler experiences the ins and outs of public relations work at her internship with DM Baker Media Relations Firm in Santa Barbara. It’s an opportunity she hopes will prepare her for career choices ahead.

“I eventually want to go into advertising and marketing,” Doerffler said. As an intern, “I get to see the process and what you do.”

Firm owner Dennis Baker might never have found Doerffler if it were not for “Meet the Pros,” the November career expo put on by the communication department and the School of Media Arts. For the past three years, students who went to the expo had the chance to speak with local companies in fields ranging from graphic design to radio broadcasting, all without ever leaving campus.

Doerffler and Andrew Keefer, who transferred to UCSB from City College in January, have been interning at Baker’s firm for a month now. Both were involved with the Communication Association on campus, and Doerffler helped organize the expo. They are two of six students who now intern at Baker’s firm in what has become a mutually beneficial relationship.

“They’re very helpful,” Baker said of his interns. “I usually only take about two or three interns, but this time I have about six.”

“I want to get the fundamentals, the basics,” said Doerffler of her reasons for taking the internship “That way I can start higher [after college].

She added that she loves to see the fruits of her labor.

“It’s really cool when people you’ve contacted come to the events,” she said.

Communications Instructor Sarah Hock, who helped get the expo started, said that 14 students were offered internship this year through the event. One student, Claudia Rivera, had an internship at Viva Design that lead to actual employment.

“Claudia’s internship actually turned into a paying job. [She] said this experience has been one of the best things that has ever happened to her.”

Baker said he chose his interns out of a dozen students based on their interviews and teacher recommendations. Baker himself has tried out public relations in many different arenas, working for the U.S. Senate, Fox TV and various political campaigns.

“People would approach me on the side and I just stayed busy,” said Baker. He finally ventured out with his own business in 1998.

Interns at Baker’s firm work getting sponsorships from local businesses, doing research, and publicizing events. Keefer said most of the tasks, such as e-mailing, making phone calls to sponsors or news agencies and going to the events, happens out side the office.

Baker sometimes gives his interns specific projects or events, like the Santa Barbara Jewish Film Festival and the Team Bike Challenge to help obtain sponsorships.

“For the Team Bike Challenge, we’re getting juice shops and delis [as sponsors]. For the Jewish Film Festival, we’re getting real estate ads for the programs,” Keefer said. He looks forward to walking away from this internship with valuable public relations and advertising skills.

Baker even offers seminars on topics that the spark his interns’ interest.

“I’ve done one on how to write a good news release. I feel like it’s information that will be helpful to them,” Baker said.

Keefer said he enjoys the seminars. “They help teach us,” he said.

Doerffler and Keefer will be working hard until their internships end in June.

Keefer said he hopes he might be able to even stay longer.