There was a part of me that expected my first day at HLK to be Madmen in the modern world. The suits. The drinks. The 60s. But of course the 2015 version where there would be fewer cigars and typewriters and more quinoa and iPads. I knew that advertising was evolving with the rest of the world, but I assumed that the fundamental nature of advertising would be about the same, in which the competitive atmosphere trumped all else. I imagined that to succeed in advertising you not only had to be talented but also aggressive and opinionated. My perception of what interning at a full-service digital agency would be like was completely skewed towards what media--and essentially advertising itself--persuaded me to believe. I thought that ad agencies were supposed to be a cutthroat industry full of pizazz. Within a week, however, I realized that HLK is none of those things. Minus the pizazz of course. And maybe the drinks if we’re being honest.
From the open space office environment, to the booths and couches that welcome work throughout the building, to the fact that employees engage with the company’s partners on a daily basis, HLK fosters a sense of community in which employees work and encourage each other. Company-wide and individual success are aligned in a way that fosters a dynamic environment in which no one person can, or wants to for that matter, take credit for the success of a project. Don Draper, however, taught me otherwise. His doors were rarely open, he didn’t show respect to his employees, and the hunger for money and success suffocated the possibility of creating the cooperative work environment that exists today at HLK.
The Ad Infinitum Interns, myself included, have quickly come to realize the importance of that sense of community and how it encourages a more fluid collaborative process. You are quickly engaged in the energy of HLK, consumed by the task at hand and the diverse people around you, including creative, media, research and analytics, account management, strategy, and content.
HLK is made up of a dynamic group of people. Not only in terms of fashion sense--because style here ranges from blazers to flip flops, sometimes daringly fashioned in the same outfit--but more importantly in terms of personality and skill. Everyone has their “thing” and are encouraged to utilize their passions in a way that not only benefits the client but also reflects upon the eclectic and energetic community that is HLK.
Don Draper ain’t got nothing on us.