We Came to a Consensus,
We’re Going to Chipotle

When I was six years old I would broadcast to everyone that I, without a doubt, would become an artist when I grew up. Here I am, “grown-up,” sitting at a desk at the office of a well-respected Los Angeles public relations firm with zero artistic ability. 

I originally was drawn to Consensus for the community engagement work, but I am leaving with knowledge I never knew I needed. After completing my two years at community college, I had decided that this would be my most eventful and relaxing summer to date. I watched my brother graduate college and move across the country, I traveled around Europe with my best friend, I took a spa trip to Palm Desert with the greatest group of girls, I spent my free time working at a smoothie shop and yoga studio, and I went to an absurd amount of Dodgers games (for being a Redsox fan). I was enjoying my free time and living the dream before it was time for my transition over to what I like to call “big girl college” at UCLA.

Although I am eternally grateful for my community college experience, I felt like I needed some additional professional experience before beginning my first semester at UCLA. As I panicked mid-July, I discovered a job posting for a Community Engagement Internship at a Public Relations/Community Engagement firm. I never considered pursuing a career in PR, but to be completely honest, the branding of the website won me over. I applied, heard back, interviewed and somehow became lucky enough to join this awesome team. I was immediately welcomed and thrown into all types of projects. 

I quickly learned that Consensus wasn’t like other PR firms or other internships. I was able to work on a variety of unique projects that ranged from aerial transit to real estate to hemp. During my summer at Consensus, I became invested in my work to the point that I even became emotionally attached to a development in Northern California. Consensus trusted me and built up my confidence by allowing me to jump into projects and take ownership of my work. I was afforded the opportunity to make valuable contributions to projects in their beginning stages, and even more advanced ones later on as well. In many internships, interns are given mindless work that full-time staffers simply don’t have the time for, but at Consensus, I felt like a member of the team — not just an intern.

Engaging with the community is the best part of my job. My favorite memory at Consensus was my first community meeting. I woke up dark and early at 4 am to meet the team at the office at 5 am. We packed up the supplies needed for the event and headed to our meeting venue, which was a historic train depot that had been converted into a coffee shop. Our team set everything up and waited for community members to pour in. Watching people interact with the different stations and asking questions about the project was satisfying, and I learned a lot by listening. It was truly rewarding to see everyone’s hard work unfold. 

Seeing people advocate for and care about their community as much as I do about mine made me hopeful and excited for my future. I was able to speak with individuals from many different fields and it assured me that I can work in any field and still contribute to what I am passionate about. 

At Consensus, I got a real taste of “adulting.” I learned that my dream job of working as a Program Director for a foundation is still going to have me compile documentation reports and spend 10-15 hours a week in LA traffic. I learned that you can quickly master Microsoft Excel given how much it is used and that Adobe Cloud is a gift from the PR gods. Most importantly, I learned that if you’re going to go to lunch with your coworkers, you’ll probably end up at Chipotle. 

Besides eating Chipotle many times a week, one of the many benefits of having an internship while in college is that you have so many great professionals to look up to. I have been lucky to work under so many impressive people, and I’ve learned things from them that I could never learn in a classroom. I had zero public relations and marketing experience coming into Consensus, but I learned and am now leaving with a great deal of knowledge that will benefit me for the rest of my life and career. 

If I could leave you with anything, it would be to never sell yourself short and to be proactive. Apply for the internship, try out for the team, speak up and share your opinion, and shoot your professional shot. My experience at Consensus has emboldened and prepared me to tackle the new challenges that my new school, and future work opportunities, will bring me.

Tessa Azani is an incoming transfer student from Moorpark College to the University of California, Los Angeles where she will be studying Public Affairs with a minor in Education. Her dream is to work for a foundation or nonprofit that enables access to education in poverty-stricken communities and eventually serves on her community’s school board. She is passionate about and heavily involved with organizations such as Rotary International, Relay for Life, and The YMCA. Tessa was awarded The City of Thousand Oaks’ Youth Volunteer of the Year Award in 2017, has worked on three winning school board campaigns, has interned with State Senator Henry Stern, and served as the Moorpark College Student Government’s Director of External Affairs.

Check out our op-ed in the LA Times' Daily Pilot on sweeping new ‘granny flat’ laws

One of the most passionate housing advocates here on our team at Consensus, Cash Rutherford provides his insight in the op-ed “ADUs for Christmas: Sweeping new laws will provide the gift of ‘granny flats” published on January 3, 2020 in the L.A. Times’ Daily Pilot.

Consensus from the Inside Out: A Culture of Communicating to Empower

At that time, I had been interning at Consensus for only a little shy of two weeks, and didn’t fully understand what I was doing, much less understand what the company did. I definitely did not know how our work tied into our name. But during that engaging conversation in our office space one afternoon, it somewhat started to make more sense.