Summer Enrichment Program Series: Rodrigo Bustamante ’20 on his Professional Experience at Patagonia on the West Coast
As the final installment of our four-part series this fall on the Summer Enrichment Program (SEP), Rodrigo Bustamante ’20 shares about his experience working at Patagonia in Ventura, California. The recent graduate was the company’s first-ever summer editorial intern.
In your fourth summer, which is called Professional Experience, you’ll take part in an approved internship or pursue a startup idea of your own. You’ll learn invaluable professional skills that will serve you well in your career—whether you pursue private business, the nonprofit world, or self-directed entrepreneurship.
Rodrigo “Rod” Bustamante is a Cuban-American visual artist and storyteller from Miami, Florida. He graduated from Carolina with a degree in global studies and minors in environmental sustainability and social entrepreneurship.
Rodrigo: In 2016, I backpacked through the Northern Talkeetna Mountains in Alaska with the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS). This experience changed my life and inspired me to set my sights on Patagonia.
I worked on a variety of personal projects and traveled all over the globe in the years that followed. Ultimately, I had the immense opportunity of being selected as the editorial intern for Patagonia!
I moved across the country to Ventura, California, for my 12-week internship. Within a day of arriving, I had bought a used bike and began settling into life on the West Coast.
I spent my days primarily researching sustainability in the apparel industry and considering the industry’s troubled past, cataloging the bleak realities of the present, and mapping out some possibilities for a hopeful future. I presented these findings to the entire creative team in my final days at Patagonia.
I also joined a group of creatives to develop the initial idea for a brand campaign on climate action, which came to formation as part of a larger initiative that launched in September of that year.
And finally, I helped the editors with Patagonia’s official blog, “The Cleanest Line.” I even got published!
My article: “2025 or Bust: Patagonia’s Carbon Neutrality Goal.”
Every day started with a hearty breakfast and a good cup of coffee with friends. And always seemed to end with a bike ride for sunset.
I had lots of fun adventures through the internship program, like climbing in the Sespe one afternoon!
Patagonia has nine-hour workdays, which meant I got every other Friday off of work . . . giving me lots of time to play in the outdoors!
On one weekend, I traveled to Colorado for a workshop with my favorite photographer, Chris Burkard, through the Discovery Fund. Afterwards, I met up with some scholars in Colorado Springs.
I also visited Shawen Conway ’20 in San Francisco. We had spent two summers together in Cape Town and Boston, so I needed to stop by!
I was so worried about moving to a new place all alone at the beginning of the summer, but I was always surrounded by my inspiring (and very fun) cohort of interns who became some of my close friends.
Together, we made this sleepy town our home.
I grew so much as an artist and environmental activist during my time with Patagonia. I’m so grateful for the mentorship I received through this program. My conversations with colleagues—in and out of work—helped me map out my next steps.
All in all, it was a summer filled with bike rides, beach days, hikes, and sunsets. That made my heart very happy.
Til next time,
Rodrigo Bustamante ’20
These four diverse summers—strategically designed to help scholars understand more about the world and how they can make a difference in it—inspire confidence, foster independence, and provide in-depth, hands-on learning experiences. Learn more about the Summer Enrichment Program.
You can view Instagram Stories Highlights for the Summer Enrichment Program series on our account @moreheadcain. And, make sure to check out the Prospective Scholars page for upcoming deadlines and other application-related information.