How Our Mentors Inspired Our Internship Program

Here at the agency, we sometimes like to refer to ourselves as the “Agbos,” because of the lessons we learned at the University of New Mexico and New Mexico State University.

When we were in college, it was important for us to gain experience beyond the classroom in order to be successful in our careers. We just needed a little guidance. Each of us were fortunate enough to find mentors who could helped us navigate the waters of our industry be a support system and when needed, give us some tough love to lead us in the right direction.

Both Zach and Auri were lucky to work with Benson Hendrix, the Social Media Manager at UNM. In class he pushed them to create engaging and thoughtful content and he would eventually help guide both of them to their current positions at Siarza Social Digital.

Cristina’s mentor was a part-time instructor named Melissa Juarez, who worked in UNM’s Communication & Journalism Department and also as a marketing coordinator for Dion’s Pizza. Melissa consistently lauded Cristina’s writing and also worked with her to meet individuals in the marketing and communications community in Albuquerque. One of those individuals was Kristelle Siarza.

During her time at NMSU, Donyelle took a number of journalism and mass communication classes under J. Sean McCleneghan (Dr. Mac) who was also her advisor in the department and helped place her in two internships during her undergraduate career and encouraged her to obtain her master’s degree. After passing an exam with high “C”, her junior year, Dr. Mac asked Donyelle to move up an advisory session. “What the heck happened? I know you’re better than that.” Although it was a passing grade, it’s mentorship like that that challenges students to produce exceptional rather than acceptable work.

Kristelle had a professor named Paul Cupach, a retired chief master sergeant in the United States Air Force. Mentorship was part of his rank. One day, he took her aside and said, “You have a lot of potential. You’re stupid smart, Kristelle.”

Because of these individuals and many others that we feel it only necessary to give back and provide that same type of opportunity and guidance to young students.

Our goal is educate, provide on-the-job professional experience, and push them out of their comfort zone so they learn and grow into more prepared, confident professionals. At the same time, we hope that our efforts will keep some of New Mexico’s talent here.

From what we’ve seen, a lot of local companies tend to recruit talent from out of state for various reasons. We feel that there are plenty of eager, capable employees here in state and with the right training and development, these students can be successful in the positions that are needed locally.

In our short tenure as an agency, we’ve had the privilege to host 10 social media and web interns in our internship programs, ranging from freshman to seniors. Some have returned for a second internship and we’ve been able to extend job offers to three of our previous interns.

So here is our challenge to you: How are you joining the effort in on-the-job internship training? Who are you mentoring to be the future of your industry? Most importantly…

Who is your next “Agbo” intern?

Winning Lessons from Agency Veterans

My name is Kristelle, and I’m an agency addict.

I love hearing about the good ‘ol days in the advertising and public relations industry of New Mexico. These “Mad Men” have paved the way for agency owners like me, and I’ve enjoyed hearing their lessons learned and advice to pass on to a rookie.

Over the last two years, I’ve had coffee with former art directors, fun lunches with past directors of public relations, and happy hours with the mighty account executives that have been, in my opinion, the soldiers in the trenches of the advertising agency wars.

I’ve heard thrilling stories of the late Rick Johnson. His previous account execs call them, “My favorite Rick stories.”

One of my new favorite stories was from an owner, recollecting dropping off boxes of artwork and client files (hey, it was the 80s) before letting them go because of a horrid client relationship.

It’s even humbling when an agency owner comes up to us and says, “We’re really rooting for you.”

After the dozens of meetings, I’ve realized we all want the same thing for our clients: success.

The culture of Siarza Social Digital is very much a family environment. We can’t help it. There have often been times when a member of the team says they feel as much a part of a client’s team as ours. I like to believe that’s because of the steps we take to understand and collaborate with each organization we work with and the level of service we deliver.

When a client’s event sells of a digital campaign they ran, we very much relish in their victory with them. We are also the first to admit when digital media is not the sole answer and have helped our clients find the right agency or developer who can meet their needs.

With only two years under our belt, we’ve also had the opportunity to be contracted by some of the best PR and marketing agencies in the state and around the country to focus on what we do best so they can do what they do best.

The saying goes “two heads are better than one” and that’s the approach we take when partnering with other agencies to carry out a client’s marketing needs and goals. The truth is, we are constantly learning, adapting and finding innovative ways to tell our client’s story; but we don’t know everything.

It’s always been the philosophy of SiarzaSD, that while we can serve many clients independently, we can make great partners to other firms who might need an extra hand in our specialities.

I’m lucky to see the team play nice, adapt well and have turned out noteable projects for clients. The results are robust, our partnering agency looks good, our client is successful.

We all win.

ABQ’s entrepreneurial lure

The Albuquerque Journal interviewed five young entrepreneurs about their experiences with starting a business and running it in Albuquerque. Our CEO, Kristelle Siarza, was interviewed about why she chose Albuquerque for her business and the ups and downs of the Albuquerque business industry.

To see what Kristelle and the four other millennials had to say, click here.

A rising tide of go-getters

The Albuquerque Journal featured five entrepreneurs in New Mexico and asked them to detail their experience.  Kristelle Siarza, our CEO, said that she never dreamed of launching her own company anywhere but Albuquerque.  She not only joined many other 20 and 30 something year old entrepreneurs, but also decided to focus on helping the entrepreneur industry grow in New Mexico.

To see the four other entrepreneurs and what they have to say, click here.

Day in the Life: Why Kristelle Siarza’s 24-hour routine includes a chief fun officer and MMA

Our CEO, Kristelle Siarza, is more than just a business woman. She is also  a part-time instructor at the University of New Mexico, sits on the board of directors of New Mexico’s Filipino American Community Council and is a member of New Mexico Association of Commerce and Industry’s entrepreneurship committee.

Click here, to see how she handles all of this and more in Albuquerque Business First’s article about a day in the life of Kristelle Siarza.

37 ABQ Businesswomen Featured in ABQ Business First

37 Albuquerque businesswomen were featured in the Albuquerque Business First where they gave their best advice for the coming generation of female business owners. Our CEO, Kristelle Siarza, said that her advice for the up and coming entrepreneurs is to “Be fearless, confident, and don’t give up too soon.”

To see the rest of the women featured in the article, click here.


My Response to Mr. Quigley: They’re called Millenials

Dear Mr. Quigley,

In your most recent article titled, “Wanted: Entrepreneurs to Fuel Albuquerque’s Economy,” you ended this great piece with the following questions:

It has long been an open question whether entrepreneurs are made or born. Is it possible to train someone to see the world as a collection of unmet needs just begging to be satisfied? Or are people just wired that way? And, however they got that way, is it possible that they will want to live here?

Yes, it is possible to train to see the world as a collection of unmet needs. And yes, it is possible they want to live here. These “entrepreneurs” you speak of are already here. They’re Millenials.

From spurring home sales in the metro area to influencing economic development in Downtown, Millennials are the new measure of the strength of the Albuquerque economy.

With good reason: Across the country, the 20- to 34-year-old set has gone from being the kids next door to being the double-income family down the street – at least in economies that are doing well.

That’s where the trouble starts for Albuquerque. While our economy is moving steadily out of the Great Recession, Millennials in our city are struggling to transition from job-creation programs to actual employment.

In fact, according to a University of New Mexico study, 60 percent of native-born New Mexicans leave the state, and only 2 percent of them return. As my aunt and mentor Adelamar “Dely” N. Alcantara, a University of New Mexico research professor and demographer, said in a story published in the Albuquerque Journal, “You lose your best and brightest.”

There have been a lot of great networking events and collaborative efforts in the Innovation District to try to figure out what it’s going to take to create jobs to attract Millennials to The Duke City. Everyone recognizes the problem, but a solution doesn’t seem to be in sight.

But, from where I sit, at my messy desk in Fatpipe ABQ, it seems pretty clear: Private-sector business incubators give Millennials the space, support and community to start and grow businesses that will ultimately become the backbone of the city’s economy.

My own agency, Siarza Social Digital, started less than a year ago and, thanks to the community and collaborative environment at Fatpipe ABQ, has already grown to three full-time employees, two part-time staff and half a dozen local contractors — many of whom are also Fatpipe ABQ tenants. And all of those employees – including me – are Millennials.

The reality is that Millennials want to be in Albuquerque. One visit to a Young Professionals of ABQ or miABQ event will show you that this young, active, community-minded demographic is eager to put down roots and make a meaningful impact on our city.

Where there is a space to laugh, brainstorm ideas and drink a few brews, you will find Millennials – working hard and contributing to the economy. Fatpipe ABQ gave me and my business exactly the opportunity we needed to set up shop and get to work.

Started a year ago this month, Fatpipe ABQ has created a unique co-working space that allows for a multi-generational group of entrepreneurs to collaborate and learn from each other. The Fatpipe ABQ community is exactly the kind of ecosystem that supports business development for every kind of entrepreneur. Having grown up embracing diversity, Millennials are seeking out unique perspectives, insights and opportunities. Sure, some of the other Fatpipe ABQ tenants are Gen Xers and even Boomers, but it’s that diversity of experience that makes Millennials like me feel right at home – and gives us what we need to develop professionally.

The way I see it, in Albuquerque we have two choices: We can watch Millennials continue to take their skills, potential and dollars out-of-state, or we can commit to supporting small businesses, like mine, which employ and empower Millennials and give them not just a reason to stay, but also the financial ability to stay in our community.


Kristelle Siarza
Siarza Social Digital