My name is Kasey Pierpont, and I’m a senior Communication Studies major with a minor in Creative and Cultural Industries! This past semester, I’ve had the opportunity to intern with the Follow Your Dream Foundation. This nonprofit organization tells the stories of courageous women who have overcome physical, racial, geographical, and social challenges to achieve their dreams. The Follow Your Dream Foundation uses platforms like music, art, and film to share these stories with the public and bring attention to essential and transformative narratives. The current project they are working on, which has been in development for the past 10+ years, is a documentary called PASANG: In the Shadow of Everest. This film chronicles Pasang Lhamu Sherpa’s journey to become the first Nepali woman to summit Mount Everest in 1993 after battling numerous physical, political, and mental challenges. 

PASANG at Mountainfilm in Telluride, CO

I found this internship through a contact from my hometown, in the Bay Area, as the film director used to be a neighbor of mine. Upon reaching out to her about interning for the film, she expressed how helpful it would be to have more hands in the pot as the film prepares for its worldwide virtual online launch, which will occur on International Everest Day – May 29th, 2024. I had been loosely involved with the film for about a year during its film festival run before officially interning. I had the opportunity to follow PASANG to incredible places such as Telluride, CO, and the Santa Barbara International Film Festival.    

PASANG at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival

During my internship, I assumed the role of Publicity Director and have been in charge of tasks such as social media outreach, newsletter creation, project planning, and more. Since the team is preparing for the film’s online release, there is a lot of work to strategize how to gain publicity for the launch. That is where my job comes in! I have written emails to journalists who could cover the event, drafted newsletters for email subscriber lists, and developed social media posts for Instagram and Facebook to draw further attention to PASANG. That being said, each day of work looks a little different for me as it can be a bit of a trial-and-error process, depending on what is effective in promoting the film. I’ve joined the weekly producer meetings where we discuss updates on work, make the next steps, and address any other pertinent information. Additionally, I meet with my supervisor once a week to ensure she’s assigning me essential tasks to complete in an effort to keep the process running smoothly. 

Example of a post on Instagram

The classes that I’ve been able to take through the School of Communication in the past four years have given me a leg up in feeling prepared for the work I have been assigned in this internship. Mass Communication, which I took my sophomore year with Dr. Tess Buckley, helped me better understand the power of social media and the tactics behind mass-media campaigns. Additionally, two courses I took, Social Media & Contemporary Society with Dr. Sophie Janicke-Bowles and Chapman Radio with Dr. Travis Bartosh, helped me practice the art of social media presence. Both of these courses, in their own ways, asked me to develop an Instagram account and create posts that would engage my audience. As this is a big part of what I do for the Follow Your Dream Foundation, I had knowledge coming in on how to do so effectively based on these experiences. 

Sometimes, being a Communication Studies major can feel daunting when choosing a career path, as there’s so much we can do with what we’ve learned! Being able to dip my toe into this specific realm has been incredibly beneficial in helping me understand what I do and do not like to do, which will aid me in choosing what I want to pursue post-grad. Gaining skills through this internship in my writing has helped me feel more confident going forward with what I can bring to a future job. I feel I’ve been a helpful component in bringing audience engagement to the film, and its upcoming online launch has been incredibly rewarding and satisfying to see hard work pay off. I am grateful to have connected with the producers and my supervisor, who have ensured I’m gaining valuable skills from this process and who I am confident will support me wherever I find myself in the future. This opportunity has exemplified that any experience is great experience, especially if you are still determining exactly where you want to end up.