The intern’s side of the story:
I had planned to stay in Boulder between my junior and senior years, to attend summer school, at the University of Colorado. When I learned the classes I needed were online courses, I made a last minute decision to return home to Southern California for the summer. As a communications major with a minor in business, I thought it would be great if I could find a summer internship in advertising, marketing or public relations. But I was pretty late in the game to find a plum assignment.
After a lot of rejection, I resorted to leveraging my mom’s professional network and learned that one of her former agency account leaders, an Executive Vice President (EVP) at Porter Novelli, might have an opening.
There was just one catch. Due to one person being on maternity leave, vacation schedules and business travel – it would literally just be me and the EVP in the modest sized Irvine office for the entire summer.
Really, how bad could it be? The EVP didn’t sound that old on the phone. So, I interviewed with her, took the writing test and was offered a summer internship during finals week.
On my first day, I was nervous. I didn’t know what to expect or if I’d even like this field of communications. As I shadowed the intern that I would be replacing and talked with the EVP, I began to relax.
Toward the end of day one, the EVP asked me to tell her something stupid that she did every day and what I would have done differently. And she also asked me to share some of my favorite pop music. As a new, temporary employee, I was intimidated by the first request. How am I, a 20 year-old college student with almost no experience, supposed to give my boss advice to improve her skills?
Eventually as the summer went on, I became more comfortable with the relationship between the EVP and me. I came up with ideas on how she could do things differently – Excel short cuts, PowerPoint tips and a gentle suggestion to text or IM me rather than email because it’s so much faster. Duh!
Sharing my favorite music was much easier than telling my boss she was stupid. I fell into a rhythm of sending her popular hits from the Billboard 100 list, something right up my alley.
I loved the fast pace of agency life and interactive atmosphere – even though it was just the two of us. As the days turned into weeks, I really enjoyed the work that I was doing for an international airport and nonprofit community hospital – as well as the person I was collaborating with. I had the opportunity to work on everything from drafting media alerts and newsletters to pitching reporters and editors. My previous internships had been on the client side, so it was great to experience the agency side.
It may seem unlikely that working alongside just one person can tell you a lot about the culture of a global company, but it did. Porter Novelli is busy and exciting. The people are supportive, compassionate and strong. Nothing is more important to them than client service excellence.
I can’t believe how lucky I was to get to spend the summer of 2016 working directly for an EVP – and how lucky for her that she now has much better taste in music.