What 8am Taught Me, and Other Internship Lessons


I’m not much of a morning person, but you could say 8am and I have surpassed our acquaintance status and are in the midst of a budding friendship. The radio talk shows, parking garage rooftop views and last minute powdered donuts have been a glimpse into what exists below the adulthood ledge I’ve been teetering on. 

 

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Summer in college means one of two things, at least for me. I can take an online class and lifeguard at the local pool. Or I can compete for an internship that aligns with this ambiguous, someday, somewhere future. During the months of March and April, I spent my mornings Skyping, calling and emailing recruiters at a big-name ad agency in NYC. Six interviews later left me anxious and sanguine and wrapped up into this potential life I had imagined for myself since visiting the city at 12 years old. I was rejected, then weeks later, accepted. It’s big name, I learned, allowed it the convenience of treating candidates like used up fish in a pond. Maybe that’s just corporate America. Or maybe I need thicker skin. Either way, it left a lingering, not-so-delicious taste in my mouth, and I politely declined the offer. Plus, I really didn’t want to live off of pop tarts in the NYU dorms for three months, as much as I tried to convince myself I did. 

Instead, I decided to spend the summer of turning 21, seeing new cities, and falling in love with the award winning, creative ideas agency in Rochester, NY (my hometown), Partners + Napier. To say I absolutely adored it would be understating an understatement. 

 

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People are Culture

Throughout my college career I’ve dedicated a majority of my time to countless campus jobs and internships, and the impression I take away is always tangled up in the people who I’ve worked with. I’ve had some life-changing, mediocre, and ruthless experiences. But if it weren’t for those so-called “leaders”, I wouldn’t have been able to appreciate the shiny happy people, and the true leaders who redirected me.

Sharon Napier discussed the real root of company culture during the July agency meeting. Currently, Partners and Napier is undergoing a face-lift, with new egg chairs, blue and green walls, digital displays and an agency bar to make Beer Fridays that much easier to attend. I have to admit, these types of things would motivate me. But there seems to be this underlying competition between the “cool” companies; who has the better office space, who lets you bring your dog into work, who gives you paid birthdays off, who has a slide. And these are all great assets to have for your Instagram posts and bragging rights. However, after the perks fade away, what is left? The real meaning behind company culture- the people that walk through the doors and inhabit the colorful space. 

I still have a lot to learn, but in my 21 years I’ve never had the opportunity to work alongside people with the caliber of the Partners + Napier team. After gradually getting to know them individually, I realized they aren’t just branding client’s work, they’re branding themselves, and flawlessly. Everyone, perhaps unknowingly, contributes their own story to the success of the agency. My tendency to see the best in people, to search for their hidden quirks and what makes them different left me in awe at Partners + Napier, because everyone is just so darn interesting. They’re kind too. Imagine that. 

Partners, thank you for influencing the direction I plan to take with my life. If I ever get to work with such inspiring, dynamic, spirited people again I will be luckier than a mouse at a cheese convention, or a cactus in Texas, or a… okay, I think you get it. 

 

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Unpredictable Days

I’m sure someone out there has a work day schedule that goes as follows: conference call with Tom at 10, eat lunch in the car, crunch numbers until 5, sit in traffic, repeat. I hope, dear reader, that this isn’t your typical routine because that’s nearly what nightmares are made of.

Partners + Napier President, Sarah Hanson, told us how imperative it is to be excited about your work at least 4 out of 5 days of the week. There will be conundrums and monotony. We can’t avoid it. But we have to give ourselves the chance to spend more than half of our lives with a fiery passion in our hearts, because otherwise, no one wins. 

I loved 8am because I never knew what to expect. 

Some days I found myself researching company leaders to prepare the senior management team for a new business pitch. Other days I was editing faux movie trailers, conducting man-on-the-street interviews, introducing myself in ASL to the agency, tweeting for the CEO, or curtseying at a photoshoot for an RFP. 

I thrived on the inevitable unknown. I tried my best to defy the comfort zone. And in true new business fashion, I was always hungry to win. 

 

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Before this internship, I had hesitations about entering the industry. I was afraid to commit myself to a practice that would benefit a CEO’s vacation rather than benefit a cause. This summer reignited the flame that had initially drew me to my marketing major, and proved my dubious self wrong. I was reminded of the limitless possibilities for creating content that drives change (and pushes you out of bed on a Monday morning). I realized that being surrounded by people who go against the grain, refuse to be boring, and find infinite ideas in a world where everything has been done before makes me a better person too. I think advertising is a lot like Neverland. No one grows up, in the best sense of it all, and I love that. I love that a lot. Finally, I learned that you can find purpose wherever you go and in whatever you do, as long as you believe in it. To quote Ray Bradbury, “may you be in love for the next 20,000 days, and out of that love, remake a world.” 

Every changing minute, every ridiculous idea, and every new person we meet brings us closer to this someday, somewhere future. Writing these words now, I’ve come to believe I’m already there. 

And I owe it all to 8 am. 

 
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This post is part of the Looksharp Internship Blog Competition. To read more about the competition and view other posts go here.

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