It was somehow the day of the deadline. Then journalism and mass communications senior Ruby Ramirez anxiously submitted her internship application. She needed this. Without an internship credit, she couldn’t graduate, couldn’t move forward and couldn’t start her career.
But Ramirez was used to challenges. Her day-to-day consisted of juggling schoolwork, a serving job at Sam’s Café and spending time with her son while still managing to finish any homework she had. This made the application deadline come up just that much faster.
However, this internship was not just another spot in local news. This was the chance to work for the public relations department of the Harlem Globetrotters, whose offices just happen to be here in downtown Phoenix.
“I thought it was a very unique internship that offered me a lot of experience along with an awesome, awesome name to put on my resumé,” she says.
Plus, the Harlem Globetrotter’s small-company structure was different than her previous internship experience at Noodle, a PR agency where she had to work with several clients at a given time.
“I knew I wanted to focus on one person, one client or one company to better communicate what I know, rather than writing mediocre pieces about someone I only kind of knew,” she says. “I wanted to have complete knowledge on one thing and express that to others.”
After a few days, the Harlem Globetrotters’ company gave her a call back. In early September, mere weeks before needing an internship credit for her graduation requirements, Ramirez walked into their offices and got an interview. Nervous, she said the interview went “just OK,” but she was still optimistic.
Weeks went by and yet another deadline grew closer and closer – the end date to find an internship for graduation credit. Finally, Ramirez’s phone rang.
“She gave me a call almost on deadline, but I got hired as an intern with the Harlem Globetrotters,” she says. “I was super stoked. It’s a world-class organization, we’re known around the world, so I thought it was so amazing that I could intern there and gain that experience before I graduated.”
She began that same month. While a lot of her work consisted of clerical duties, she got to work on big media packages for shows like the one in New York City and do research on potential markets. Plus, she was part of the community outreach team.
“We have programs where we have our players visit schools to talk about some of our programs like our bullying-prevention program. I did a lot of research into potential schools that we could pay visits to and I also pitched them,” she says.
Come December, Ramirez’s internship ended and it was time for her to graduate. She stepped across that stage and was ready to launch her career.
However, actually finding a job that did not require years upon years of experience was proving difficult. While still searching for a position and going back to her serving job, she got a call from her old boss from the Harlem Globetrotters, senior vice president of communications Brett Meister.
Because she did such an excellent job during her internship, Meister called to offer her a temporary position as public relations coordinator that had the potential to turn into a full time job.
“Think about it,” Meister says.
But Ramirez accepted immediately and began working a few days later.
“I took it and they honestly threw me into the fire. The season starts on December 26 and I started January 10,” she says. “My experience was really limited pitching to schools and research so they gave me a two-day training run-down. My two colleagues gave me all the tools I needed, and I got cracking.”
She pitched to multiple markets and was responsible for sending out pitches. In the mornings she would pitch to TV producers before they left their office. Some mornings she would have to wake up as early as 4 a.m. to catch producers on the east coast.
After pitching media, she pitched to print or radio outlets or made sure interviews went off without a hitch. She often ended days with sifting through fan mail.
“I absolutely love when I get letters from the kids when we do outreach to schools. Fan mail and having people be so grateful to us for sharing that type of experience with kids really makes my job that much more worth it,” she says.
The next fiscal year, it was time to make a decision about Ramirez’s employment with the Globetrotters. Meister pulled her into his office and offered her the position as public relations coordinator full time.
“Those were some of the most amazing words I’d ever hear in my life,” Ramirez says. “It was crazy how everything worked out and how I ended up staying there, getting hired as a full time employee. I really got emotional after I stepped out of his office. I was really excited and very thankful that that opportunity had presented itself to me.”
To Meister, it was an easy choice.
“Ruby’s work ethic and ability to quickly adapt to the workload and fast-paced nature of our touring business made it an easy decision to hire her in the PR department,” Meister says. “She has done a nice job and continues to grow professionally in her role.”
Today, Ramirez pitches to around 30 markets and oversees close to 100. She also manages the interns and gives them their daily tasks.
“I started in their shoes and now I’m trying to help them and give them the experience that I wanted when I first started,” she says.
From experience, she knows that even when a company is not currently hiring, opportunities arise all the time.
“You may think they don’t care that you’re there, but they are watching you. They will keep you in consideration if anything were to ever pop up. Prove to them that you can do whatever task they give to you,” she says.