Summer 2019 Immersive Internship Experience: NYC

I have a hard time being anything other than candid — I wrote this primarily with other advertising majors in mind, specifically for those who are considering different career paths within the field. I have had the ability to test out a variety of different roles and I want to share my experiences below.

Over the past 3 months, I’ve had the privilege of working in two very different niches of the NYC advertising world: one, at a top-tier advertising production company who pumps out feature-length, award-winning commercials for the biggest names in advertising – think Bud Light’s “Dilly Dilly” campaign, Snickers’ “You’re Not You When You’re Hungry,” and more; the other at a stealth-stage startup alongside C-suite professionals from NBCU, Alloy Media, and others who have the real-deal expertise in the media industry.

I created this website as a portfolio to showcase some of my own work as part of my final project and be a resource to me going forward, and added this page to recap this experience as the capstone to my advertising degree.

Below I’ve gone into depth about my summer internship experiences and how they’ve impacted me. Please explore this website which contains some additional background about me and a showcase of the creative side of my photography.

Introduction

In the past 3 months, I have been completing the final portion of my advertising degree via an immersive internship experience for course credit. I’m born and raised in South Florida, but my family recently moved right outside New York City and that has been the catalyst for me being able to craft together a pretty awesome final semester of my major at UF as I’ve embarked on learning about my field at two different but amazing companies. While trying to work in two separate internships to fit my course requirements, I’m at the tail end of this experience with a pretty unique view and a fun ride that was a great introduction to one of the busiest and most vibrant spaces in the field of advertising.

Part One: Caviar for the Creative

O-Positive is a commercial production company based in NYC who produces longer-length ads and works with almost all the big agencies in the city, as well as brands with some of the most memorable commercials.

Their ads are mainly comedy-based, which got me thinking about the creative process a lot. The truth is that a lot of people are drawn to this field because they have a creative drive — but without knowing how to reach a career where they can really do what they want, pursuing something without knowing how to get there can feel like a shot in the dark, a maze in a cornfield, a big heap of frustration, a way to get lost… all that stuff. For me, getting the chance to work at such an esteemed company was something I never imagined being able to do. The biggest benefit for me here was that I got to see how things really work at the top level: the Super-Bowl-ad level full of glitz, glam, and Joe Jonas in your studio that so many in our field aspire towards. I feel that the best way I can make use of this experience and this end-of-semester reflection is to lay out a little roadmap/exposé for anyone with my major reading this in the future.

Hilarious. Iconic. It’s why we love advertising.

This angle of advertising really has many ties with film, acting, writing and production. The company is made up of 8 directors who use their past creative work to negotiate relationships and get gigs with their clients. The jobs are based around whatever campaign their clients have going on at the moment — and O Positive usually takes the 60+ second commercials from the wittiest creative agencies. The directors have a lot of experience in the field, but most of them have a past in theater, acting, screenwriting and the like. One of the directors who I got to know on a personal level actually began as a copywriter for 10+ years in New York and found a passion for this area in the industry and ended up with the successful company he has today.

While working in the office for a few weeks, I helped with tying loose ends leading up to a couple commercial shoots. I got to see what goes on and how the company communicates with agencies and clients. The directors have the relationships with the clients, and the creative agencies supply us with the campaign for the commercial. Our place in all this is the execution – but directors often have a pretty good creative control in terms of how they choose to execute the campaign spot. I also shadowed various roles within the office, for example the role of “Digital Vault Manager,” who is responsible for presenting the director’s creative process and vision for the spot, also known as writing up the treatment of the commercial, often using InDesign and other engaging visual tools to make a booklet for the client.

I also got to be a production assistant on set of commercials for CLIF Bar and another one for a business services company, which was a less exciting client, but a fantastic and entertaining commercial that came out of our work on the campaign.

Part Two: Another Startup

Enter my second internship: I had my second internship all set up and I was planning on working at a company called Yolla Media, which is a new-ish media company founded by industry professionals from another media giant in the city called Alloy Media. Upon hearing that I had expertise from a previous internship in influencer marketing, the CEO at Yolla referred me to another pre-launch-stage startup called Motom media, which he said he felt would be a better learning and contributive experience for me given the nature of the needs of Motom at that very point in time. I’m glad he did because it ended up being a perfect match for me – I learned a TON, got to put my past experience and knowledge truly to the best of its use, and made great contacts along the way.

Motom is a side project of a couple senior-level executives from companies like Alloy but also one from NBCU which kind of happened to land right in my lap thanks to the insight of my would-have-been internship coordinator at Yolla. (It really is all about who you know… so be friendly and nice!!)

“Start-up” can mean a couple different things: A guy invests a killer algorithm and amasses a few of his friends to create a “new internet” in his shady landlord’s Silicon Valley incubator; Your pizza delivery guy finds a better way to coordinate orders and deliveries and begins building an app; Your nephew opens up a lemonade stand every Wednesday during the summer named “Squeezies;” Amazon realizes the influencer marketing space is worth $8 billion in 2019 and decides to tap into that market. All examples of startups.

If you’re anything media-related, get familiar with startups. They’re a great place to learn about real-world business practices because you basically get to see something unfold before your eyes — really. And even the un-sexiest companies have to go through all the stages of defining their business, reaching an audience and making a name for themselves, executing, and etc.

The important part to note is that startups LOVE young media professionals! These are companies that need fresh, digitally-savvy and pop-culture-proficient people to help them tap into a user base. Chances are if you’re a media major you will have completed assignments in a wide range of areas, and this is perfect too because startups want you to wear ALL the hats and be able to tackle anything they throw at you.

Working at Motom during its development stage was great for me because a lot of my value was contributed during the design phases. The company’s founders were people who had been working in the media industry for decades, had realized that there was a huge new market to tap into (influencer marketing), who had entrepreneurial experience and had the numbers and big-picture vantage point to make things happen, but lacked insight into the audience and user base they were targeting: brands, users, and influencers who primarily leverage Instagram.

I got to give creative input to my team, worked with a designer each week to keep fine-tuning UX before launch, and constantly refine and reinforce our core mission and offerings, all staying in line with our target audience, and trying to be disruptive at the same time. For me, the challenge was coming up with the best copy and editorial flavor for us and helping the company redefine itself to fit the needs of consumers until it was perfect. This developmental, collaborative experience was better and more enriching for me than I ever could have expected. I was nervous that working at a startup might not provide the same supportive, structured and educational environment I needed for this internship to count as my immersive experience at UF, but I don’t think that I could have gotten a more comprehensive, appropriate-for-me experience at any other internship. The mentorship I received from my teammates was unreal – and every day was like listening to a brand new TedTalk about how to be successful in the media industry.

Next Steps

Seeing these two different functions within the media space will make me a better media practitioner in any role I take on going forward.

Just like in any industry, each moving part (big ad agency, boutique creative agency, production company, ad-tech company that provides insights.. there are so many combinations of functions) has its own function, and the people who work there and the nature of the business has its own personality and flavor. Interning at O-Positive, I got to be a part of one of those moving parts, and it was one that was unique and I’d probably never have the chance to peek into otherwise. At Motom, I’ve gotten to listen in on high-level executive decisions and conversations, which has been a great learning experience for me as I take my first steps into my own professional life going forward after graduation. In my own pursuits, I hope to work towards a more managerial job function in wherever I work in the future — and seeing the big picture and being able to understand how the moving parts work of the industry that you’re working in is helpful in becoming your best self in your profession, wherever you work.