How I went from unpaid intern to co-founder

My name is Bella Brache, and I’m a Wiz Kid.

After graduating from the University of Denver with a Bachelor of Arts in Strategic Communications and a triple minor in Business Administration, Spanish, and Socio-Legal Studies, I knew I wanted to get into the digital marketing space. I was determined to make my mark as a communications professional, but in a new way.

With three internships completed as an undergrad, I recognized an issue in the way interns were handled and the process behind receiving college credit. My first internship was when I was studying abroad in Sydney, Australia. This internship was with a Public Relations firm focused on the fashion industry. The internship was unpaid, and a very “typical” internship experience — I got coffee, scanned media clippings, organized clothing, and audited products. Living in Sydney was not cheap, but I needed the internship for credits towards graduating, so I sacrificed having a job and worked 8:30–6 two to three times a week as an unpaid intern. In order to earn credit for the internship, I had to pay for the credits like one would a normal class. Upon hearing this my parents asked the clarifying question: “We have to pay thousands of dollars for you to participate in an unpaid internship?” The short answer was yes. My major required me to have an internship completed in order to graduate with my degree, and in order to participate in this internship, I was required to earn class credit.

My second internship was paid, at a small recruiting firm in Downtown Denver. Because I had already completed one internship for my major, I was unable to receive class credit for another until I finished all class requirements. So, I did the internship anyway, on my own time, not having to pay the school for the credits. I got paid a starting hourly of $15 (better than most internships out there) and learned ten times more through this internship than my first one. By far, this internship experience was the best. I got to work on my own schedule, the company was extremely flexible about me working from home and adjusting my hours according to my exam schedule. I was given just the right amount of responsibility to really learn on my own. I ended up revamping the company’s entire social media strategy and website, while also writing weekly blog posts, handling events, and more. It was far from what many think of an internship — I was given more ability and exciting tasks than any other internship I’ve heard of (while also getting to play with the office dogs).

My final internship was the worst. I needed three more credits to graduate early from the University of Denver and found one that I thought was it — this is my dream job. After talking to staff and professors, we figured out a way for me to earn these credits through the marketing program at DU. However, I would have to pay $1,000 per credit hour (most classes are 4 credits) in order to receive the credit I needed to graduate. The internship was not only unpaid, but it was 45 min away — and that’s without traffic. So, after some convincing, and swearing this was what I wanted to do with my life, my parents agreed to pay for me to do another unpaid internship. The internship turned out to be extremely helpful because it helped me realize what I don’t want to do. I was driving upwards of 2 hours a day to sit and scan, screenshot, and clip media mentions. My “dream” internship quickly turned into a chore, and the gas expenses to drive to an unpaid internship was the cherry on top.

After graduating with these 3 internships under my belt, I dove into social media marketing. I continued to work for the small recruiting firm (my second internship), handling their social media and marketing completely. I was also asked to do social media for a few other small companies and one campaign, which I took on as well. After a few months of handling 5 different companies social media efforts on multiple platforms, my co-founders and I noticed something: businesses need social media, but they don’t need a full-time employee to do it. One social media native can handle a businesses social media for the entire week in around an hour, depending on the company.

That’s where Wiz Kid sparked. We wanted to give businesses the fractional social media help and presence they need while also giving college students and recent graduates a legitimate, paid experience. My incredible co-founders and I quickly latched onto the idea, forming what we believe will be a disrupting concept in the digital marketing space and intern processes.

My experiences as an intern were mixed, and while I appreciated the lessons from each and every one, I knew that there were better ways companies could use college students that was beneficial for everyone. Wiz Kids are able to gain real experience with local Denver companies, helping them with what many say is their weakest point in marketing: social media.

A Wiz Kid is someone who knows social media, knows it’s power, and knows how to take advantage of it. A Wiz Kid knows how to speak for a wide range of brands and their customers. Most importantly, a Wiz Kid understands how important social media is for businesses and is passionate about using their social media powers to grow and engage present and potential audiences. Not everyone is a Wiz Kid — we’re looking for those social media natives and influencers who know how to take social media to the next level on a variety of platforms. Wiz Kids are dedicated, hard workers who want to use social media to help businesses grow, stay relevant, and better connect with their customer.

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