Archive for the 'Slices of Life as a SHIFTer' Category

The Next Big Step

By @kimberlydiesel

Last month, San Francisco intern Mich Wells gave us the hilariously informative Intern 101, offering fantastic advice for all the future SHIFT interns out there. Yes, internships are a great way to gain experience and get your foot in the door but what about getting a more permanent seat at a desk?

That brings us to why we’re here. This is for all the interns out there who are going the distance and vying for the coveted Account Coordinator role. I spoke with some of my fellow former interns to find out how their internship experience impacted their decision to stay in PR and talk about what they learned from their transition from intern to account coordinator.

What about your internship experience here at SHIFT made you want to stay in PR?

“I felt like I was part of the team. Prior to joining SHIFT I had done two internships elsewhere and although I learned a lot, I never learned as much as I did at SHIFT. I was invited into client calls, team meetings, basically anything to help me see the bigger picture of PR.”

–          Justine Routhier, Account Executive

What was the most important piece of advice you took away from being an intern that helped you get to where you are?

“Do everything you can to prove that you want to be there. You won’t get anywhere great without taking that extra step. This doesn’t just apply to your work. Get involved and get to know your co-workers.  Having more people know your personality can only help you when it comes time to interview, especially here at SHIFT where the culture is so important to everyone.”

–           Kristina Scuoteguazza, Account Coordinator

 What is the most important thing you’ve learned since your intern days?

“Openly communicate with your manager and your team members. They’re there to help and that way nothing gets lost. If you need help, ask for it. If you’re stuck on a project, ask. You can’t learn from your team without asking questions.”

–          Amanda Grinavich, Account Executive

What was the biggest challenge you encountered during your transition from intern to account coordinator?

“Honestly, I can’t think of a HUGE challenge I encountered. For me, the biggest change was being held completely accountable for my projects and realizing how important the smallest details are. But I could not have been set up better to excel as an AC after interning at SHIFT for 6 months. Great mentors along the way made the transition pretty smooth.

–          Lily Albin, Account Coordinator

It sure seems like we are big on tooting our own horns around here. But how could we not? When I asked everyone what made them want to stay at SHIFT, the answer was unanimous: The people and the culture. Still, a lot of the advice above applies not just to interns here at SHIFT, but to all interns looking to take the next step. So much of it goes back to Mich’s two pieces of advice; be communicative and be proactive. If you don’t speak up and go the extra mile, how will anyone see your passion for PR?

Have more advice for our interns? Sound off below!

Inside the SHIFT Studio: Alex Brooks


1. Name:

Alex Brooks

2. Hometown:

Dallas, TX. As we say, American by birth, Texan by the grace of God.

3. Where did you go to college?

Williams College– go Ephs!

4.  How long have you worked at SHIFT:

 3.5 years

5. Use four words to describe yourself:

Witty, loyal, old soul

6.  What made you enter the PR industry:

I graduated from college in 2008, right when the recession was starting. I was an art history major, but cast a wide net in my job search since there wasn’t much available, and pursued opportunities in marketing as well as the art world. SHIFT hired me as an intern and then as an AC about a month and a half later. I’m so grateful to have had the opportunity to start my career at a company where I’ve learned so much and worked with fantastic people.

7.  When you Google yourself, what’s the first thing that pops up:

Ridiculously enough, when you Google “Alexandra Brooks,” the first search result is the website of a psychic who shares my name. Apparently, she is a Healer who works with Pink Light, a gentle healing light that resonates to the energies of love, harmony, and peace (verbiage taken from her website – I can’t make that stuff up). As I tend to embrace an “insert sarcasm here” credo, this coincidence is pretty epic.

8. What blogs or Web sites do you read every day:

Real News: WSJ, NYT

Fake News:

10-Minute Break: Amy Atlas’ blog, Sweet Designs (she’s a dessert stylist)

Every Friday: Charles Krauthammer’s weekly column in Washington Post

9. If there was a cocktail created just for you, what would you name it:

My ideal cocktail already exists – the French 75 (champagne, gin, lemon juice, and sugar). What can I say? I love my bubbles. Also love the classic cocktail nostalgia; I can see Coco Chanel knocking these back in Paris.

10. Tell us something unexpected/surprising about you:

My dad’s Jewish and my mom’s Catholic. I was converted to Judaism as a baby. One of my mom’s relatives, Andre Bessette, was canonized in October 2010. That makes half my genes Chosen and the other half saintly. In the words of Bill Murray (aka Carl Spackler), “So I got that going for me, which is nice.”

Intern 101 with Mich Wells

Starring @itsamich, Produced by @MadelineWillman

SHIFT San Francisco’s Mich Wells gives some great intern advice all while having fun! Hear about what she loves about SHIFT, what’s she has learned so far and the two tips she has for incoming interns – she also dances with Cowboy Todd, leaps through the halls, flirts with Edward Cullen and more –  so check it out:

Airplanes and Beyonce – The Things SHIFT is Thankful for

By Puneet Sandhu (@puneet86)

Ladies and gentlemen, SHIFT Communications’ favorite time of the year – the holiday season – has officially arrived! In celebration, all three SHIFT offices held their annual Halloween/SHIFTgiving feasts last week (get a taste of them here, no pun intended) wherein everyone managed to defeat their seemingly bottomless appetites with indecent amounts of food. (And when I say “indecent,” I mean INDECENT.)

Since then, we’ve also emerged victorious from the resulting food coma, and are now preparing for round #2 of unabashed gluttony with family and friends on Thanksgiving Day. But before we pack up for the week and head home, we wanted to pause and reflect on the things that have our hearts aflutter with gratitude this holiday season. Below are some of the things on SHIFTers’ minds this Thanksgiving.

  • Zach Servideo (@zachservideo) in Boston: I’m thankful for all of the good people in my life, especially my best friends (who just so happen to be my roommates). I’ve needed to call on them a lot this year to help out my family with a big move, and they step it up every time I need them – no questions asked. I’m lucky to live with four of these friends, all of whom I’ve known since I was 3 years old. They are an extension of my family.
  • Annie Perkins in Boston: I am thankful that my son is out of harm’s way and will be home safe with his family for the holidays. (Readers: Annie’s son, Ben, who was serving in Somalia, has just made it home to Jacksonville, FL!)
  •  Nicole Kruse (@NKruseNYC) in New York: I’m most thankful for airplanes because they make it possible for me to spend the holidays with my friends and family in California that I love and miss!
  •  Amanda Grinavich (@AGrinavich) in Boston: I am thankful for my family, friends and a job that I love. They all equal stability, and that’s something I’m certainly blessed to have at this time. I am also thankful for Beyonce because she’s fierce, and inspires the hell out of me. (Fun fact: Amanda has a “Fierce Wall” up on her cube, featuring Beyonce and others who help remind her to channel her inner fierceness)
  •  Berenise Solorio (@Bsolorio) in San Francisco: Aside from being thankful for the obvious—turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, oh and time with family (of course! ;])—I am beyond thankful for getting hired on as an Account Coordinator at SHIFT’s SF office. I’m honored to start my career at a firm with incredibly talented people!
  •  Alexandra Brooks (@abrooksshiftcomm) in New York: J.CREW. Kidding! I am thankful that my father is in better health than ever four years after his heart transplant.
  •  Justine Routhier (@JMassRouthier) in Boston: I’m thankful for 100-calorie snacks! Why? Without them, I wouldn’t have been able to fit into my wedding dress. (FYI, readers – Justine is SHIFT’s newest newly-wed, having been married only a month ago!)
  •  Catherine Goerz in San Francisco: I am thankful for beautiful November weather in San Francisco. It might be cold and foggy in summer, but the fall is gorgeous and warm (ish). (Goes without saying Cathy, the NY and Boston peeps are JEALOUS.)
  • Jennifer Eastman (@eastmanj) in New York: I am thankful for all the SHIFT bakers, chefs and mixologists. My pants, on the other hand, are not as thankful.
  • Kristen Zukowski in Boston: I am thankful that with tornados, earthquakes, hurricanes and even snow in October, my friends and family are all well. It really makes you think about how the world, in particular your own world, can change in a moment’s time!
  •  Cathy Summers (@csumm) in San Francisco: I get to work with some of my favorite people in the world, which makes work seem a little less like, well, you know, work. 🙂

And our personal favorite…

  •  Danielle Mancano (@dmancano) – Padded bras and Crest White Strips.

How to Be Your Office DJ

By Danielle Coe, John Cassillo and Kate Guarente

Bandwidth beware: the influx of streaming music and video services like Spotify, MOG, Hype Machine,, YouTube and Vimeo has made it possible to listen to music all the time, anytime. Whether you have one headphone in or you’re blasting it on a Friday afternoon for the whole office, music adds to the creative atmosphere at work. We have shared below a handful of playlists that will pump you up, focus you in, and help you wind down with your colleagues. Have a listen, and let us know what you listen to!

Top Music of 2011:

Congratulations, you just made it to the final round of a new business pitch. You’re pumped, but now you’re looking at a 24 hour turnaround for another pitch deck. The following songs have already won music lovers’ hearts this year, and it’s time they motivate you to win that new business heart, too. Attention-grabbing, thrilling and sometimes a bit brash, each song sets the tone for what should be a great year to come for you and your clients.

“Otis” – Jay-Z & Kanye West

“I Wanna Meet Dave Grohl” – Wavves

“Vomit” – Girls

“The Great Pan Is Dead” – Cold Cave

“Calgary” – Bon Iver

“New Beat” – Toro y Moi

“The Look” – Metronomy

“I Stand Alone” – Theophilus London

“How Deep is Your Love?” – The Rapture

“Wildfire (feat. Little Dragon)” – SBTRKT


Turn off your instant messenger, block your Gmail, and forget about Mashable for an hour. If you’re writing up a pitch about the cloud, this list is your go-to. With steady, relaxed beats and little to no distracting lyrics, these songs can focus you even on the loudest of afternoons.  Though some might also lead you to daydreaming, so careful where your ears tread!

The Wilhelm Scream” – James Blake

“Eyes Be Closed” – Washed Out

“National Anthem” – Radiohead

“Two Weeks” – Grizzly Bear

“One Sunday Morning (Song for Jane Smiley’s Girlfriend)” – Wilco

“Someone Great” – LCD Soundsystem

808pm At The Beach” – Fred Falke

“Wildcat” – Ratatat

“Take My Soul” – Thievery Corporation

“Chinatown” – Wild Nothing

Monday Morning Oldies:

No one’s in the mood for some loud, annoying pop song by the latest “IT” girl singing about self-esteem on a Monday morning. At times like these, it’s all about those classics you, and everyone else, already knows and loves. Trust us, there’s a reason these songs have been popular for at least the last 25 years.

“Take Me Home, Country Roads” – John Denver

“Don’t Go Breaking My Heart” – Elton John and Kiki Dee

“Another One Bites the Dust”—Queen

“Will You Be There” – Michael Jackson

“You Can’t Hurry Love” – The Supremes

“Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da” – The Beatles

“Danger Zone” – Kenny Loggins

“You Make My Dreams” – Hall & Oates

“Shout” – The Isley Brothers

 “Sweet Caroline” – Neil Diamond


You know the song that, no matter how many times you play it, your coworkers will light up and say “oh! I love this song!” These are the ones you can play on a Tuesday, leave your desk for a client call, and come back and people are still jamming. Make sure you have at least a few (or all) of the tracks below handy if someone designates you resident DJ on a busy day.

“Unless It’s Kicks” – Okkervil River

“Bloodbuzz Ohio” – The National

“Giving Up the Gun” – Vampire Weekend

“Reptilia” – The Strokes

“Month of May” – Arcade Fire

“Shooting Stars” – Bag Raiders

“Je Veux Te Voir” – Yelle

“Lights & Music” – Cut Copy

“Pumped Up Kicks” – Foster The People

“Superstylin” – Groove Armada

Impress on an Afternoon:

Sometimes there are those days when you’ve volunteered as resident DJ but you feel you’ve exhausted Mike Snow and Robyn and need something fresh. These songs will perk up your colleagues’ ears and eventually someone will ping you, asking “who is this?” Consider this one a little bit of a brag list.

 “It Gets Your Body Movin’” – Suckers

“Brother Sport” – Animal Collective

“The Rat” – The Walkmen

“Round and Round” – Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti

“Heroes and Villains” – The Beach Boys”

“Stillness is the Move” – Dirty Projectors

“Heartbeats” – The Knife

“Tripped and Fell in Love” – YACHT

“Two Dancers (ii)” – Wild Beasts (Jon Hopkins Remix)

“Midnight City” – M83

What are your favorite songs to listen to while at work?

Enter at Your Own Risk: SHIFTers at Work in the Kitchen

By Annie Meenan

This year, SHIFT SF decided to break our Halloween tradition of carving pumpkins to celebrate with a good ol’ fashioned bake-off. Why? Well, because what better way to celebrate the holiday than with an overload of baked goods chased down with some spiked cider and pumpkin ale.

Our “Fall Festivus” kicked off right in time for happy hour and the troops eagerly marched into our transformed conference room to find a table filled with baked goods. From homemade pumpkin cookies and muffins to Kahlua-infused cupcakes, there was no shortage of sugary treats. Hungry SHIFTers piled up plates full of every sweet imaginable to ensure they got a taste of everything. Soon, it was time to cast our ballots for the best dessert.

It was a tough competition, but in the end there could only be one winner. The dancing skeleton trophy prize ultimately went to SHIFT newbie and all-star intern, Michelle “Mich” Wells. Her “Chocolate Peanut Butter Chip Balls of Glory” won by a landslide. Lucky for you, Mich was willing to share her secret recipe, so you can try it for yourself! Check it out below.

The Goods

  • 1 package dark chocolate cake mix
  • ¼ cup special dark powdered cocoa
  • ~ 1 cup peanut butter (Peanut Butter & Co’s White Chocolate Wonderful – peanut butter mixed with sweet white chocolate – recommended)
  • 1 1/3 cups of water
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • 3 ½ tablespoons of butter
  • 3 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 – 1½ cups peanut butter chips
  • 1 container (16 ounces) of chocolate frosting
  • 1 package chocolate bark coating mix
  • Sea salt
  • 9” x 13” nonstick baking pan
  • Cookie sheet
  • Wax paper

How to Make the Magic Happen

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Coat the baking pan in canola oil spray just to ensure none of the cake was left behind.

Mix together the dry cake mix along with the cocoa powder. Then, stir in water, eggs, vegetable oil and butter. Spread that goodness in the baking pan, put it in the oven for 35 minutes and let cool to room temperature. (Tip: if you stick a toothpick in the middle of the cake, and no residue is on it when you pull it out, it is ready!)

Once it’s cool, crumble the cake into large mixing bowl. Stir in your frosting, peanut butter and peanut butter chips by hand. Put some sea salt in at this stage to taste – keep in mind you will be sprinkling more on top at the end of the process. Then, shape the batter into one inch balls. Place each ball on a cookie sheet lined with wax paper. Refrigerate overnight or freeze them until firm.

Next, melt the chocolate bark coating pieces according to package instructions. Dip the cake balls into the melted chocolate and let them set on the cookie sheet (make sure your cake balls are firm – if they aren’t, they are going to fall apart in the melted chocolate resulting in less cake, which would be a major travesty). While the chocolate coating is drying, sprinkle sea salt on top of the cake balls so it dries into the coating. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Enjoy!

Remember, you can make this treat with any cake recipe, and change it up with white or dark chocolate coating, sprinkles, drizzled chocolate on top, etc.


By Leslie Grant


Nearly one year ago, I made the decision to take a chance on you. At the time, I was living in sunny San Diego working a career in marketing and needed a change. So you’re probably wondering, why you? I mean, you weren’t exactly convenient. To be perfectly honest, I really just needed to get my foot in a door, any door – even if that meant moving across the state for an internship.

Lucky for me, I learned rather quickly (at least once I figured out that awkward mustaches weren’t actually a normal thing around here – thanks, Movember) that you were a pretty good door to have opened.

Over the course of a year, you have taught me everything there is to know and love about life as a 20-something living in SF – from wine tasting in Sonoma to summer Fridays, ice skating in Union Square and team bonding sessions at Sapphire (you know, the cheap dive bar down the street where fellow SHIFTers are known by first name) – I’ve learned that the key to happiness and success in the world of PR is good company and the occasional happy hour.

Oh, and then there’s the work part (how could I forget). I must say, you sure do know how to pick ‘em. Not only are SHIFTers super creative and dedicated PR rockstars, they are also eager to show the newbies how PR is really done. The opportunities to expand my knowledge of the industry and grow in my career have been endless and I’m constantly impressed by everyone’s hard work and most of all, passion.

Looking ahead, I’m excited for many more opportunities to learn and grow in the industry and for all of the fun activities that you have in store. I feel lucky to be a part of the SHIFT experience and can’t wait to see what the next year will bring.

Until next time,