CLS Strategies Intern Spotlight: Maria Elena Fraga

CLS Strategies Intern Spotlight: Maria Elena Fraga

Born and raised in Venezuela, Maria is a rising senior at Loyola University Maryland. She is a marketing major with a minor in communications and a focus in advertising and public relations. At Loyola Maryland, Maria is also involved with the Association of Latin American Students and a national organization called Take Back the Night, which advocates for an end to all forms of sexual violence.   

Who/what has had the most impact on your academic or professional interests?

Both of my parents have had the most impact. My dad is a businessman and my mom is a doctor. Both are extremely passionate about what they do and I always admired that. My dad makes business look effortless and enjoyable and my mom makes medicine look easy and simple. I think that growing up with two people who love what they do and do it so well made me want that for myself. They have always been the ones to keep me on track and advise me on what might be the best for me. 

When I was a little girl, I would spend hours with my dad at his office, watching him work and interact with people in this environment. This is when my interest in business developed, but I am not as good with numbers as my dad is. I wanted to do something more creative while still getting involved with people and their decisions as consumers. My mom mentioned marketing as a career option and, after doing research, I realized it was exactly what I was looking for.

What do you look for in an internship experience, and how has this shaped your career goals?

I look for exactly that: experience. Coming to the United States made me realize how invested people are in their resumes and showed me how experience is so valuable, especially after college. I hope to learn and gain some knowledge not only about this field but also about myself. I’m about to graduate college so I want to know what I’m interested in and how I can develop in these areas. I think internships are good way to discover yourself and what you might end up doing in the future.

What are your long-term career goals?

As of right now, I don’t have a dream job or a job I have set my mind on doing because I’m open to anything. I do know I would really like working with my dad, or I would like to make my way up in an advertising or marketing firm.

What has surprised you so far about your journey towards your career goals? 

I think I’ve come to realize the huge number of different careers in both business and communications. This internship is an example. I didn’t know the different branches communications really had until I started this journey.

Can you expand on your interest in public relations?

This internship really showed me how broad communications is. Something I have learned here is that every day is different and things can change when you least expect it. When I was considering PR, I read an article listing reasons why it’s such a good career. It talked about how, in firms like CLS, you go from everything being calm to extremely busy and then quiet again. At first it was confusing but now that I have been at CLS for a while I laugh because I have experienced that exact scenario.

What comes easiest to you as an intern at CLS Strategies?

I really like trying new things, even if it means I’ll be outside of my comfort zone. I’m also a person who likes to get feedback to get better. I think that being open minded leaves a lot of room for new learning, especially as an intern here at CLS. You are expected to understand and grasp the clients’ needs and desires for which you need to be willing to 1) be trained, and 2) be open to assessment.

What has been your biggest challenge as an intern at CLS Strategies? How do you address that?

I think the biggest challenge has been coping with due dates. I deal with them in college but those are usually two weeks away. At CLS, some things are needed by the end of the day, which creates much more pressure. Another thing that has been a challenge has been learning the formatting of materials that each client prefers.

What is your favorite thing about living in Washington, D.C.?

I go to school in Baltimore and every year I would talk about coming to D.C. for a weekend with my friends. Truth is, we never made it happen. Now that I get to live here during the summer I realize how much I have been missing out. I love DC! I think it’s one of my favorites cities and one of the few places I could see myself living in the future. I love how it’s such a big city but it’s not necessarily overwhelming. Also, there is always something to do during the weekends; from a new restaurant to try to a new museum to visit, DC is a very engaging city.

On our website we ask all of our staff to share three things about themselves. What are three things about yourself that we might not know?

  1. John Cena and I went to the same high school. He was my graduation speaker and wore a purple suit to match our school colors.
  2. I studied abroad in Newcastle, England during my junior year and got to travel to a few countries in Europe including Ireland, the Netherlands, France and Italy.
  3. I’m that one person who can’t resist taking all the Twix bars from the candy jar during Halloween - or just anywhere I find them!


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