By: Trevor Zaucha
With recent visits to the University of Illinois campus from big-name advertising and media agencies like FCB, Bailey Lauerman and Starcom Mediavest Group, internship season is in full swing. Not knowing what to expect can make the process of applying and working as an intern an intimidating one. Fortunately, the Illinois American Advertising Federation’s (AAF) Professional Development committee hosted its annual internship panel in hopes of providing AAF members with a better sense of the internship experience. Organized by Vice President of Professional Development Nora Stanton and Program Director Greta Sauciunaite, what follows is a quick rundown of the event.
Speaking to a full room, former interns and panelists Griffin Barra (Ad Sales Intern at Viacom), Laura Hill (Social Media Marketing Intern at Schafer Condon Carter (SCC)), Clare Lagatutta (Account Services Intern at GSD&M) SangHa Park (Search Intern at Razorfish), Aaron Weiss (Intern at Paramount Pictures) and Andrew Wood (Account Management Intern at BBDO NYC) detailed their experience in the working world in response to a number of questions posed by the Professional Development committee.
Following introductions, the group addressed the corporate culture and their respective internships.
“All the fun stuff you’ve heard about, it’s all real.” said Sophomore Laura Hill, who attended AAF’s “Advasion” in the spring and was offered her internship position by Mr. Condon himself. “That’s why you go to AAF events,” Hill said.
For Andrew Wood, it wasn’t that BBDO was formal or informal, but that no matter how laid back the environment could be, the people always worked to maintain the integrity of the brands that they were working with.
“Actually getting to experience the agency culture…advertising is what people say it is, it really is fun,” said Clare Lagatutta.
One of the largest themes throughout the night was the importance of networking. Hill wasn’t the only one who found her position through the process, with Barra saying that he learned of the position at Viacom through College of Media instructor Brett Clifton, while Lagatutta and Wood were both nominated for the Stickell Internship Program. In the case of Aaron Weiss, his internship at Paramount came about after applying for a second time. After submitting his application, he made sure to reconnect with the people he had previously met. In his words, “Continuing with those connections…got me the interview.”
SangHa Park provided attendees with a look into the variety of experiences that the advertising industry has to offer. As a search intern at digital juggernaut Razorfish, Park noted that while many people do not know what goes on at a digital agency, it’s a lot more than social media. Park’s experience included search engine marketing, display, e-commerce and so much more.
Amid the many non-traditional aspects of the advertising and media industries, the panelists expressed the importance of taking pride in the work that you do. For the many hopeful students in attendance, the key takeaways were to network, be open to new opportunities and to apply early and often. For advertising, many of the internship applications tend to fall in the winter and early spring, so while there have already been a handful of agency visits, the internship process is only going to become more intense as the year progresses.