I’ve written about the significance of our Agency employees several times but, today, I’d like to reflect on the importance of our Internship Program and the woman, Dana Cooper, who set the bar really high as our first intern.

Creating an Internship Program is challenging; We are growing as an Agency and the magazine that we publish, Focus Mid-South, has expanded it’s audience and reach. We also founded the Focus Center Foundation this year so in addition to hiring new team members to take on our growing responsibilities, we thought that it would be an awesome time to mentor someone who wanted to grow their abilities, thus our search for an intern began. It was a win-win for both our agency and Dana! We were afforded the opportunity to cultivate the skills and knowledge of someone with a vested interest in the work that we love so much. In exchange, she offered fresh perspectives on our industry, our team and enhanced our social strategy by incorporating her background in Journalism & English Linguistics.

Dana Cooper, went above and beyond as an intern for Focus Mid-South and was a crucial to the production of our new podcast, RE:Focus. So much, in fact, that we’ve hired her to produce the podcast for us! RE:Focus episodes will typically be released at the beginning of each month (starting this month) and can be found on Google Play, iTunes, Stitcher and Spotify.

RE:Focus is the brand-new monthly podcast from your friends at Focus Mid-South magazine. Hosted by Goldie Dee and Allysun Wunderland, and produced by Dana Cooper, each episode will feature enlightening and entertaining conversation pertaining to the health, wealth, and well-being of the LGBT+ community. 

Occasionally, the episodes add flavor to magazine content by elaborating on those stories and conducting live interviews with some of the community members we profile in print. Most of the time, however, we will take advantage of this exciting medium to bring you fresh local content that you won’t find anywhere else. Whether Goldie and Allysun regale the audience with a story or do some live woman-on-the-street reporting, they will always do it in style.  

So Who is Dana Cooper? Read the interview below to discover why it was so hard to let this extraordinary lady go:

Tell us a little about yourself.

“A lot of people are surprised to find out that I’m a nontraditional intern, in the sense that I’m not fresh out of college. I actually have three children — Lauren, 18; Ted, 15; and Alison, 7. I’ve worked as an advertising copywriter and high school English teacher, and I finally reached a point in my life at which I realized I carried a lot of regret for not pursuing a career as a journalist. Having the opportunity to “reboot” my life and put myself back on the path I always envisioned for myself is exciting, and I am very grateful for it.”

What is your favorite thing to do in the wonderful city of Memphis?

“Live local music and theatre are really important to me, and we have a vibrant and talented fine arts community. We also have a lot of really cool breweries, and I’m working on visiting those, when I can find the time.”

Do you have a favorite quote?

“I have several. My go-to is actually from the Flintstones, so it’s not that impressive. In fact, I used it in my high school yearbook. I’m not sure if that is indicative of a lack of personal evolution or if it means that my principles have remained firm. You decide.” 😀 

“It takes a smart man to know he’s stupid.” – Barney Rubble

What is your personal philosophy?

“My go-to quote is a pretty good summary of my personal philosophy. I see no value in pretending to know things I don’t know. Conversely, I see a lot of value in being a lifelong student, of admitting when I’m out of my depth and knowing where or to whom to look for answers. I’m also a strong believer in quiet observation. That doesn’t mean I don’t have opinions or input; I just prefer to have a full(er) understanding of who and what I’m working with before speaking up. That helps me in conducting interviews for my articles. It does not make me a fun party guest sometimes. Gin helps, though.”

How did you first learn about RRF?

“During the academic year, I am a graduate assistant in my department at the UofM, and my duties include helping run our internship fair. I met Joan at our spring fair, where she had a booth set up for prospective Focus interns. I went home that night and did some research on both the magazine and the agency and knew immediately that this was an opportunity I wanted to take advantage of.”

Why did you decide to intern at Ray Rico Freelance (RRF):

“Though my internship is primarily through the magazine, I am excited to be affiliated with RRF in any way. I admire the agency’s commitment to diversity and equality and am excited to be able to use my talents and skills in such a way that demonstrates my own commitment to those ideals.”

Tell us about your internship. What is your role and what do you do?

“I am an intern for Focus Mid-South magazine. In addition to writing articles for the magazine, I help Joan with proofing the issues before they go to print, maintain a calendar of events, and try to establish and foster good relationships between the magazine and the community it serves.”

What do you like to do when you are not interning at RRF?

“I enjoy listening to podcasts, reading (though my ability to do so for pleasure has taken a hit; thanks, grad school!), and writing (same story). Above all else, of course, I enjoy hanging out with my kids. They’re a lot of fun, and they keep me young. “

If you could pick one theme for RRF to turn into a book about the company, what would it be?

“Giving back to the community. I love RRF’s dedication to partnering with local businesses and helping them flourish.”

What has been your favorite part of your internship with RRF?

“Apart from the experiential learning aspect and being connected to all the wonderful things both the agency and the magazine are a part of, I’ve really enjoyed just coming to the office. I love how tightly knit the staff is. It really does feel like a little family here! I’m only here two days a week, and half-days at that, so I’m probably a lot like that weird distant cousin you only see at reunions. Still, the energy here is fantastic. I love it.”

What advice do you have for prospective RRF interns?

“Be ready to work hard and have fun. Don’t be shy! Also, make sure your camera batteries are charged and your backup recording devices also have backups.”