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.

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How to Attract Gen Z to Banking

Who is Generation Z? Me.

Children born between the years of the mid 1990s through the early 2000s, otherwise known as Generation Z, is the generation that should be the next target for banks, credit unions, and businesses alike. Not only is this generation the largest in history, at about 82 million, but they are just starting out in the workforce which is great news for financial institutions.

Whether that be as a part time worker in high school, or fitting work into their college schedule, this generation is starting to really focus on their money. It’s not just the money of the individuals in this generation that’s important though, it’s also their families. According to CMO.com, Gen Z influences $600 billion in family spending. Parents are spending more money on their kids than ever before. Financial Institutions and businesses alike need to update their marketing strategies to take advantage of the influence this Gen Z has.

They are Different from Millennials.

Generation Z are quite different from Millennials. While millenials are most definitely one of the more tech savvy generations, Generation Z grew up in a world where smartphones, Internet, and social media were already a reality, and it was something they learned as they were also learning to walk and talk. It’s a normal part of their world.

This is why the most important factor when it comes to marketing to this generation is to utilize digital marketing. This generation is spending over 7 hours a day on average viewing media online, in many different formats. This means if you want to get their attention, you’re going to have to place your brand and your message right on to their phone screens to get your message across. Make sure your brand is accessible on mobile devices, whether that be through an App (most ideal) or having an easy to use mobile website.

This is key.

The next step would be to make sure your financial institution has an account on social media channels that this generation is using multiple times per hour.This means having an Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and even a YouTube channel. All of this will increase your brand’s awareness to this generation.

Utilizing Social Media.

Just having your financial institution own and manage social media channels isn’t enough. With the amount of competitors and other companies having their businesses involved with social media, you are going to have to stand out and be attractive to this generation. How?

The key is to be relatable, and involve this target audience.

Show me (a proud member of Gen Z) that you are aware of our lifestyle, our worries and our interests. Getting a college education is very important for this generation for example, so demonstrate how your financial institution understands the stress of saving or preparing for school and beyond. Connect with local high schools or colleges and get your brand in the talk around campus. Sponsoring sporting or school events will build familiarity and brand loyalty. Not only should you make an effort to get involved in the school community on campus, but online as well. On social media, make sure you are connecting with the students by cheering on local sports teams, talking about things that are happening in the community, and communicating with community members.

Make Your Financial Institution Attractive.

Other methods of relating to Gen Z and making your company more attractive to us is implementing aspects of our lifestyle into marketing campaigns, and on to these social channels. By providing images and video in campaigns of things that we can relate to, we will feel more comfortable about giving our business and our future business to you. For example, using images relating to school, college life, getting coffee out with friends, enjoying concerts, etc. All things that will get my generation to see aspects of ourselves in your brand.

Make sure to take full advantage of student accounts. This means allowing students that are attending school to have an account where there is the ability to transfer money easily, no minimum balances, free savings account along with checking, and higher interest on the money that’s kept in savings. Let Gen Z know that you are there for us as we continue on our journey.

Utilize the tools that social media can provide you, in order to stand out from all of the other accounts we follow that continuously fill our timelines. Use social media as a tool for YOU to communicate directly to my generation, and build a better relationship with us.

Twitter offers a ‘Poll’ feature, in which you can ask a question to your followers, have multiple poll answer options, and allow it to be open for answers for 24 hours. That’s 24 hours of free availability to get answers directly from Gen Z. You can ask anything, from “What are you saving up for this year?” to “What’s the first thing you do when you get direct deposit on payday?”.

Twitter also has a feature where you can post GIF images along with your post. This is a great tool to not only capture the attention of a user as they are scrolling through their timeline, but also to get their attention to the information you are trying to communicate in the post.  Have fun with it. The more interested people in Gen Z are in your financial institution, the more likely they will want to work with you.


Going back to the previous point about connecting to the community in which Gen Z is highly involved with, you want to make sure this is a part of your marketing strategy. Gen Z is one of the most socially and environmentally aware generations. My generation is filled with kids who want to use their time and energy to truly make the world a better place. Use it to your advantage! Get connected to local charities and raise awareness of problems going on in the community through your institution’s own channels, so your brand is associated with all the effort to help the world and our community be a better place.

Being a community financial institution, you are probably aware of the locations near you where Gen Z’s frequent. Bringing flyers and sponsoring fundraisers at these locations like coffee shops, cafes, school libraries, and campus events, will create a lot of buzz about your brand. Make sure to advertise your social media account information on flyers and other collateral pieces, and display how YOUR financial institution is perfect for students (like me) just getting into banking.


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