My internship with Cortada Projects

This story was published in FIU News by Yenisleidy Simon Mengana.

Name: Patricia Maria Menendez

Hometown: Miami

What is your major?  B.S. in Digital Communication and Media, B.A. in Sustainability and the Environment, Global Learning Medallion student.

Where did you intern? Cortada Projects at Pinecrest Gardens

What was your title? Media and communications coordinator

How did you get your internship?
Last year I was looking for an internship that combined both of my majors in some way. A friend put me in contact with the director of Cortada Projects, Adam Roberti. The organization was looking for someone who could take charge of its social media and needed someone fast. I was lucky enough to be available at the right time with the right connections.

What did you do there?
I worked for Cortada Projects from September 2019 to March 2020. Cortada Projects is Miami-based environmental artist Xavier Cortada’s participatory art practice. The organization uses the power of art to engage the public in learning about and taking action on environmental issues. As the media and communications coordinator, my job was to help increase audience engagement and brand awareness via social media channels and website content.

During my seven months there I strategized and managed the Instagram and Facebook accounts and created content for campaigns. I also organized, edited and designed web pages for both cortadaprojects.org and cortada.com, and assisted in the transition from an old to new website.

What projects did you work on?
My internship began along with the launch of a new eco-art project Cortada was working on. Plan(T) aims to raise awareness in the South Florida community about climate change and help people prepare for its impacts, such as sea level rise and saltwater intrusion, by encouraging every resident to plant a saltwater-tolerant mangrove seedlings in their yards. In addition to the mangrove, residents are also encouraged to plant an elevation-marked flag next to it to symbolize and start preparing for the future of sea level rise. The participatory art project also consisted of the display of mangroves in a grid-like pattern in clear cups, which was installed on the windows of libraries, schools, museums and universities throughout South Florida. Plan(T) was also featured in Art Basel Miami 2019.

The promotion of Plan(T) was my primary focus throughout the internship, but I also had to promote other Cortada Projects such as the Underwater HOA, Letters to the Future and DO NOT OPEN.

How did your internship connect back to your coursework?
My internship connects back to my coursework because I had to communicate environmental issues on digital platforms in a way that engages the audience. As a sustainability major, the internship strengthened my knowledge of local environmental issues and taught me a new way of thinking about how to approach these issues. Through art, Cortada Projects helped promote sustainable practices within the South Florida community as well as mitigate climate change – an objective in most of my courses. In addition to this, the internship helped me develop my digital media skills and apply concepts that I have learned in my digital media courses in a real-world setting.

What was the coolest thing about your internship or that happened during your internship?
The coolest thing that happened during my internship was when Cortada Projects was invited to be a part of UNTITLED, ART, an art fair that is featured in Art Basel Miami. Not only did I get to promote this on social media, but I also had the opportunity to attend the fair and experience Art Basel for the first time. It was fun, and I had the chance to meet people from all around the world.

What did you enjoy most about your internship?
What I enjoyed most was that I got to be part of a movement. Not only was I helping to spread the word about climate change, but I was also helping my hometown learn about its impacts and how to adapt to them. It was an overall rewarding experience.

What did you learn about yourself?
Through this internship, I learned that in my future career I want to do something that is impactful. I want to work towards something that will make a difference in the world. I do not want a job that just pays the bills, I want a job that has a purpose for the betterment of society and the environment. The internship further solidified my desire to pursue a career that uses media platforms to inspire action on environmental issues.

What advice do you have for those beginning the internship process?
Network, network, network. I cannot stress the importance of connections. You never know if who you are talking to can offer you a future job opportunity.

Aside from networking, never underestimate your value. Even if you think you are not qualified for an internship because you aren’t good enough or skilled enough, still apply. No one is ever fully prepared for anything. Take the chance and see where it takes you.

How did the position increase your professional confidence?
Working at Cortada Projects helped me gain and strengthen the necessary skills in managing, strategizing and creating social media campaigns. Not only did I develop professionally but also personally. I learned how to value myself and my work in a way I hadn’t before.

How did the internship expanded your professional network?
Prior to my internship, I had never been exposed to the art world. Interning for a prominent environmental artist introduced me to a whole new industry that I didn’t even know existed. It definitely expanded my options and network beyond the communications industry.

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