Tales of a College Intern

As the summer comes to an end and I get ready to go back to college, I have been reflecting on my whole internship experience leading up to this point. Though it has been challenging at times, the internship process has been very influential and crucial to both my career development and my growth as a writer. I feel that it is important for both students and potential intern employers to know what the internship process is really like from someone who went through it at just 19-years-old.

My internship experience can be divided into two parts: the search and the internship. This fall, I will be returning to Endicott College for my sophomore year. I am a Marketing Communications major and an Events Management minor. Part of what makes Endicott so great is the internship program. Before we graduate, students are required to complete two 120-hour internships and one semester-long internship. We take classes to prepare us for the internship/job hunt. The class and the internship center at Endicott helped me style my resumè, but no class could prepare me for the hunt. With my extracurricular activities, volunteer hours, and 3.96 GPA in college, I thought that getting an internship would be a breeze. I was very wrong.

I would search the Internet for internship opportunities and advertising agencies where I would want to work. I contacted a few at a time, thinking that at least one of them would be happy for a winter or summer intern. Time after time, I would be either rejected or outright ignored. After all of the work I had put in, I wondered why no one wanted me as an intern. Talking to some older students who had gone through the process before, I learned that a lot of places did not want to hire an intern so young. I had no official experience in advertising despite my classes and retail sales background. All of my upperclassman friends shared that they also had trouble finding their freshman year internship.

Finding this internship at McDougall and Duval taught me a very important concept in any field: networking. I had been told my whole life how important networking was, but I did not realize how helpful it was until I used it. One of my senior friends competing in the National Student Advertising Competition with me noticed my struggle to find an internship and recommended that I try this agency. She had interned here and enjoyed the experience. When I reached out, I made sure to mention her name in the email. Dan Duval immediately got back to me, and by January I had my summer internship lined up. Thanks to our mutual connection, I ended up here and gaining a great experience in the field.

McDougall and Duval hired me as an intern when no one else would. Why? I will admit that a huge part of it had to do with networking. However, this agency was willing to work with a 19-year-old college freshman because its team truly understands the purpose of an internship. It is not necessarily for a free employee. If a company hires an intern and expects a free employee, they are in for a rude awakening. An internship is meant to teach students and give them experience. They can produce great work for you, but they need to be taught how. That being said, the age of an intern should not be a huge factor in deciding whether or not to hire them. Who is to say that an 18-year-old will not be a better fit for your company than a 22-year-old, or even a 45-year-old? In addition, experience can be a factor in choosing an intern, but it should not cloud your judgement. After all, how can a student gain experience without someone giving them a chance? The best intern could be young and have little field experience, and sometimes it is beneficial to take a chance on him or her.

Once my internship began, I had a year’s worth of college experience and marketing communications classes with me. Since starting here, I have had the opportunity to work with many different clients and learn several skills. Here are my five greatest learning experiences from interning at McDougall and Duval.

    1. Blogs:

    This summer, I have become the resident Gen Z blogger. I have been researching and writing blogs about who Gen Z is and how to reach them. Not only did I learn about the generation and advertising through my research, but I also learned more about market research itself. I worked on finding credible sources about the market and interpreting my findings to create my blogs.

    Through and through, I have always been a writer. I entered my major with the intent on becoming a copywriter, and started to realize that public relations was my true calling. The best part about writing these blogs is that it is a style of writing that I had little experience with. It was nonfiction writing to be published, but I was given creative freedom to pursue any topic and angle that I wanted. I had to know my target market to be successful, but I had a lot of leeway in regards to my writing and research. These blogs are some of my best works ever because I was genuinely interested in the topics, and they were my own. I did not have a structure or rubric to hold me back, allowing my skill and talent to be used to its full potential.

    1. Meetings:

    I know it sounds odd to say I actually saw value in meetings, but the ones that I attended were surprisingly good learning tools. I sat in on several meetings on a variety of topics, from client meetings to brainstorming sessions. First of all, I learned a lot about meeting dynamics. It was interesting to find how one meeting was different from another depending on the setting and participants. A typical brainstorming meeting would be out on the deck (yes, our office has a deck) and very casual. A new client meeting would be a little more formal, being held in the conference room with the attire being business casual. Every meeting had a different dynamic to it, and I learned to quickly read the setting and act accordingly.

    Meetings also struck a chord with me because I participated. I, the 19-year-old college intern, participated in meetings. I did not just sit in the corner and watch like a lot of interns do. Endicott always stresses the importance of experiential learning, and what better way to learn than to participate? More importantly, my input was actually valued. I remember how excited I was when Dan and Mia liked my idea in a brainstorming session and actually pitched it to a client. As the internship went on, I was asked to sit in on client meetings and provide my input. Not only was this a major confidence booster for me, but it showed me that both the creative team and the clients were open to new ideas and fresh input. As I proved myself to be useful to the campaign, I was given more responsibility and more voice. My age and lack of experience did not matter. I knew what I was talking about, and both the agency and its clients could see that.

    1. New Business:

    New business is crucial to the success of any advertising agency. I spent a lot of time researching potential clients, working on mailers to send out, and completing follow-up calls. The key point that I learned is persistence. Despite being ignored or turned down, we never gave up looking for new clients to provide the next creative challenge for us to conquer. When we got responses, we did everything in our power to build a relationship with the client. That way, we would get and maintain the client. Building relationships is the most important thing to keeping and successfully working with clients.

    I was also interested to see the process of beginning a new campaign. Over my time here, I saw rebranding, seasonal campaigns, and even start-up companies. The approach to each campaign was very different depending on the client, what that company was looking for, and how established the brand was. Some campaigns would start with research, and others would jump right into creative brainstorming sessions. I was amazed at how different the process of creating campaigns was every time.

    1. Cultural Influence:

    I spent my first semester of college in two different classes discussing how media and culture influence each other. During my second semester, I took Public Relations. I knew that I would use what I learned in Public Relations, but I had no idea just how much I would need the information that I learned in Media and Culture 1 and 2. I mostly used it to detect possible PR mistakes before they happened in an advertisement. I also noticed how my understanding of the culture played a role in the media mix. For example, we were discussing how to reach a Gen X market, and a major portion of the digital budget was going to Facebook advertisements. Studying society and culture is important in advertising and public relations in order to better the brand image and reach the target market.

    1. Philosophy:

    Before this internship, I had interned at a credit union. Though I enjoyed the internship, it showed me that, at least for now, I did not really want to work for one company. I wanted to be in an agency setting with a variety of clients and plenty of unique creative challenges. I have pictured myself in a large public relations and/or advertising agency in Boston. However, I wanted to use Endicott’s internship program to explore different types of advertising and public relations employers. I was excited for the opportunity to work at a smaller agency. While I still see myself working for a larger agency for a while, I liked the philosophy here. They are very client relationship focused. They measure success by the client’s success, not by how much money they make. Every client gets 100% of the team’s efforts. I was happy to work at a place that, though smaller, cares so much about the clients. This philosophy is something that I will look for in future internships and jobs. I want to work somewhere that builds a relationship with their clients and stays true to its ideals. After all, life is about more than just money.

Contact Dan!

A Gen Z Focus Group on Advertising to Us

Up to this point, I have talked to you about Gen Z, the generation after Millennials born as early as the late 90s all the way to now, and how to market to them. At the same time, I understand that research can only provide so much insight. What you really need is a real life scenario. Real Gen Zers giving you real advice on what draws them to an advertisement. Luckily, I took care of that for you!

As a Gen Z blogger, I thought I would provide some insight on what ads attracted me on different platforms. However, I know that I do not represent every Gen Zer in the world. That is why I asked for some help. I asked a few other Gen Zers to take notes on which ads they liked and why. Think of us as your digital focus group. The group of us are not very similar beyond our shared generation. We have very different likes and dislikes. Let me introduce you to your focus group!

Lex (me): I am a 19-year-old college student. I am an intern here and also work as a server. When I am not working, I love traveling, reading, working out, going to the movies, and playing with my dogs.

Chris: I’m 15 going on 16 shortly. I spend most of my online time on YouTube, Discord, and Instagram. I like video games, sports, and the outdoors.

Emma: I’m 16-years-old, and I love to play volleyball, read books, and watch plenty of movies. I’m often on Snapchat, Instagram, VSCO, and Twitter. I spend a lot of time on YouTube, too.

Rachel: I’m 19-years-old. The media that I use most are Snapchat and Instagram. I love sports, surfing, and shopping.

Maddie: I’m 16-year-old. I use VSCO, Snapchat, and Instagram. I like shopping and drawing.

Obviously, all of us are very different despite our generational similarities. We each represent an aspect of the diverse Gen Z audience. Together, we have created a resource for you to gain some insight into the mind of a Gen Zer. Below, I have asked our focus group to talk about the ads they have seen across different platforms, as well as their media viewing habits.

YouTube:

Lex:I go on YouTube almost daily. I usually listen to music/watch music videos. I also watch comedy stars and channels like Adam Ray, Alonzo Lerone, and Cinemasins. The ads that tend to attract me most are one of three things: funny, meaningful, or relevant to me. If an ad makes me laugh, I will pay attention to it and watch the whole thing. However, I have not seen an ad in a while that has actually made me laugh. Somewhat recently, Google used an ad to show some of the most searched topics of the year. A lot of these topics were current events, and showed people wondering how they could help others. I watched that whole commercial (and it was a long one) because it had a message. It was meaningful and impactful. As far as ads that are relevant are concerned, I am a 19-year-old woman. I am going to pay attention to a product that I have a need for, like the Schick Intuition Razor. It was marketing a product that was useful to me, and it peaked my interest.

One type of ad that I paid no attention to was banner/display ads. Growing up in the digital age, Gen Z has learned to see past regular digital ads. If you want to reach us, make a video. Make a video that I want to share on my social media pages. The more shares you get, the more reach you will have. It is a simple, digital age equation.

Chris: Most advertisements on YouTube are directly targeted towards an audience, and if you don’t like the product you won’t like the advertisement. The product will only be recognized as the “most annoying” item. The most effective ads for view time are the unskippable 15 second ads on YouTube. Other than that, the movie ads work the best because the suspense at the beginning keeps me around to view the rest of the ad.

Emma: I like to watch beauty, fashion, baking, and pretty much every other kind of video on YouTube. I usually don’t mind sponsorships that much unless I’m already in the middle of a video or game and it’s interrupting me. The ones that catch my eye revolve a lot around beauty and fashion/accessories like Sand Cloudand Pura Vida Bracelets. I think certain ads are great for me and my interests, and I don’t often mind them unless I’m not the intended audience for it.

TV:

Lex: I often watch shows on my DVR with my mom. Most of these shows are on Freeform, ABC, NBC, and the CW. With most of these shows being on DVR, I usually fast forward through them. For an ad to grab my attention, it has to be unusual. Recently, Freeform created a promotion for their network. It was unique, and made me curious to watch the rest in the first five seconds. It ultimately had a message that spoke to Gen Z. Watch it in the hyperlink and see what I mean. It is different and speaks of potential to change the world in the future.

Chris: I see a lot of similar ads on TV and on YouTube. The ads that I like the most are all funny. For example, the Axe Gold commercial had many funny moments, and the characters didn’t talk. All narration was peppy from the narrator. I also like the Directv Quit Cable commercials. They are funny when the ominous signs told the characters to quit cable. I got a hardy chuckle from this commercial. The Captain Obvious commercials are also funny and will retain my attention.

Rachel: I really like sports. When events like the World Cup is on, I see the ads that are played during that.

Maddie: I watch TV, but I don’t really pay attention to the ads. However, I do love the Share a Coke campaign commercials. They are pretty memorable.

Facebook:

Lex: I am mostly on Facebook for Tasty videos and updates on my favorite brands. What I ultimately pay the most attention to is sponsored content. If a Buzzfeed quiz pops up on my feed, I am likely to notice who it is sponsored by as I am taking the quiz. Also, check out this picture below.

This is directly from my Facebook feed. Upon closer inspection, I noticed there were three ads. However, when I was initially scrolling through my feed, I only noticed the Aladdin ad. Why? Because it was right in the middle of my feed. I had to see it in order to see the rest of my feed’s content. It also used the bright purple background, a color one does not usually see in ads. My eyes were instantly drawn to it in comparison to the dull colored ads next to it. Again, stagnant ads rarely gain a viewers attention.

Chris: I have a Facebook account, but I rarely use it.

Instagram:

Lex: I am pretty much on Instagram daily viewing my friend’s posts, fandoms, celebrities, and my favorite brands. All of the ads are sponsored content that just pop up in the middle of a user’s feed. A person has to see them to scroll by them. I always take notice of these ads, but few are memorable. I only remember them if, like on YouTube, they are selling something of interest to me. Usually, I pay most attention to the ones selling clothes. On Instagram, the best ads are the ones that have a sort of artsy aesthetic. On a social media that is all pictures, simply having a visual ad is not going to cut it. I get a lot of American Eagle ads, and the ones that I like best look artistic. I worked in fashion, so I am used to seeing a lot of clothing ads. The ones that stick out are more than just an outfit or a model. They are thought out. They look like a professional candid picture, or the outfit is styled with an artistic background.

Emma: I am on Instagram a lot, and see a lot of sponsored content.

Rachel: I’m on Instagram for at least two hours a day, but never consistently. The majority of the ads that I see and click on are on Instagram. The ads that really get my attention are clothing ads or sports ads. For clothing, I am interested in brands like Romwe and Shein because they are cheap and have decent clothing. I like sports ads because I really like sports. Like when the World Cup is on, I see ads for that, and when I see ads for surfing I usually click on those pages.

Maddie: I usually get ads for bathing suits and stuff that I shop for. I also see models on the promotions page a lot. If I see a cute outfit, I will click on it and look on the website.

Snapchat:

Lex: I mostly use Snapchat to keep in touch with my friends, particularly my college friends. I views my friends’ stories, but I do not really look at the sponsored content. A lot of the ads that I see on Snapchat have a lot of words. When I am just looking through my friends’ Snapchat stories, I am not interested in seeing a lot of copy. I would respond more positively to an ad that is more visual. An ad that almost looked like a Snapchat story would make me pause to watch it. Recently, I saw a Snapchat ad for Mamma Mia 2. Unlike any other Snapchat ad, it grabbed my attention with the bright blue coloring of the background. When I really looked at the ad, I saw words on the bottom saying to click for an exclusive filter. I clicked on it, and received a Mamma Mia themed filter. I thought this was a clever marketing technique. It worked so well because it was very visually appealing and contained little copy.

Chris: I have Snapchat, but I don’t use it often.

Rachel: I probably use Snapchat at least eight hours a day, but I do not pay much attention to the ads.

Maddie: Snapchat ads come up as a story. I don’t really pay attention to them because they are so easy to skip and move on from.

In conclusion, every Gen Zer is different. But there are definitely some generalizations that can be made to target them. In my last blog, I discussed Gen Z’s YouTube tendencies. Everyone in our digital focus group spends a lot of time on YouTube. The consensus on YouTube advertising is that the we like ads that are relevant and in video form. We also like movie trailers. What can you do with this information? Make an ad that will grab this $600 billion audience’s attention!

My suggestion is to make an ad appear like a movie trailer, or in a similar fashion. Clearly, movie trailers get Gen Z to pay attention. Making an ad with style will give them pause long enough for you to get your message across. However, why stop at a YouTube ad? Make a full length YouTube video on your own channel! SteelHouse COO Chris Innes discusses the power of YouTube videosin marketing. Powerful or funny YouTube videos get shared on other social media platforms. A good YouTube video can have more reach than any ad. I know this method works: I shared the Budweiser Lost Dog ad on my social media pages simply for the meaning and story. I cannot even use the product, but the ad gained more impressions because I shared it.

In addition, you have to sell your brand in a way that makes the audience feel that they need it. For example, if you are a financial institution, you cannot get Gen Z by discussing your different product options and branches. You have to tell them how you fit into their lives. Show them how you improve their lifestyles, how you make life a little easier for them, and what you can do for them in the long run. They can start an account with you, and you need to show them what that account will allow them to do in the future.

You also need to understand where your target audience is. Emma and I gave you some ideas on what videos you can find us viewing on YouTube: baking, music, fashion, and comedy. These are the videos that you should be focusing your ads on to reach us. However, as I stated earlier, we are all different, so do your homework!

Finally, this digital focus group has provided some insight into what media platforms we are on. YouTube and Instagram are our main digital media hotspots. Snapchat is not far behind, but few have created successful ads on it. Facebook and Twitter are starting to lose their popularity with Gen Z.

Despite the trend of video streaming services, many of us are still avid TV watchers (both Chris and I will attest to this). Lesser known and more targeted media platforms like VSCO and Discord are definitely growing as well.

Now that you have learned what we like from actual Gen Zers, it is time for you to act. We have given you the insights regarding how to reach us, and we hope that you use our advice. We would appreciate some tasteful advertising in the forms we connect with.

Additional Links:

http://adage.com/article/agency-viewpoint/gen-z-hates-ads-love-videos/309105/

Contact Dan!

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