Cheers to Launchpad

Two months ago, most of what I knew about an internship came from episodes of The Office and visions of Anne Hathaway sitting at a desk as Meryl Streep walked by throwing things at her in 'The Devil Wears Prada'. While I have always known that these ideas weren't accurate, it couldn't be more untrue about the way things are for an intern at HLK. in light of this, I've formulated a few of the assumptions I had made about my prospective experience six weeks ago and paired them alongside truths about my time at HLK. If this doesn't give you a good idea, then who knows what you'd do with a creative brief.


What I envisioned....................What I experienced

coffee runs for boss....................................mentor offering me to use Keurig in her office at any time

writing content that will never be read...........getting constant feedback on the blog from mentors

huge, intimidating meetings........................small, interesting meetings with all questions welcomed

designated desk with no optional work areas.......freedom to work on a bean bag or ride the trike

miss my pup all day...............................distract myself with the dogs of the office wandering around

constant monitoring of my work process...............meeting with department leaders to share ideas

eating alone at my desk......eating with other interns on the mezzanine with a skyline view of STL

going to the gym on Monday night..........playing sand volleyball with coworkers on Monday night

being told "that idea sucks"................being told "i like that idea, maybe you could push it further..."

refilling my water bottle midday...........................meeting in the kitchen for a sangria tasting midday

intimidated by the task at hand...............................working with mentors that guided me throughout


Team Quasar cheersing to Launchpad

While a bad internship might make for a good sitcom or dramatic movie, a place where I've made connections and friends while being challenged and creating awesome ideas that I'm passionate about with the occasional opportunity for sitting outside with a beer during lunch break sounds like a much better life experience.


So, cheers to Launchpad.



The Drawing Board

Someone once asked me what my favorite part of the creative process was and to that I answered ‘nothing.’

I don’t despise what I do, quite the contrary. Turning an idea into reality (or a close facsimile) is one of the most exciting things I can think of, especially when I look back at what I started with… nothing. A blank canvas, a clean slate, call it what you will. Every project starts there, and for me there's no other place I'd rather be.

Think about it, from here you can literally go anywhere. Perhaps you might decide to ‘this’ in place of ‘that’ or ‘zig’ where others might ‘zag’. The paths are many and the possibilities endless! That’s why I love brainstorming so much. There are no wrong answers, just ones that seem, for some reason or another, more true. In a way, it’s a lot like fishing, you wait (for what sometimes seems like forever) for a bite. And like fishing, the more lines you cast out, the greater your chance of catching the big one. But before you set your boat adrift among the hypothetical waves of your imagination, it’s important to carve out a little place where your thoughts can gather and organize. Socrates had his scrolls. Galileo collected manuscripts. We have our white boards. Way back in the early days of cycle 1, the freshly painted walls of our Launchpad office began to quickly subside into the ranks of obscurity. Research documents, Post-It notes and cat memes hung from every corner of the office with all of the spontaneity that might remind one of the set of the movie Se7en. It became apparent that our creative process, while spirited, could benefit from a little organization. You can imagine my astonishment when, following a simple ‘wouldn’t it be great if’ moment, Bill Hughes, the H in HLK, stopped by to tell us he’d ordered whiteboards for our office.

A critical part of working in a group is making sure everyone is on the same page. When balanced with regular time to regroup and reflect, collaboration can be a beautiful thing. Did the success of our team hinge upon and a piece of laminate and set of dry erase markets? Of course not, like most anything it’s merely a tool to facilitate productivity. But for me, nothing beats a creative brief, a cup of coffee and a good old whiteboard.

I Still Have Sand in My Shorts

Before joining the HLK sanctioned sand volleyball team, I made it very clear to Programmer/Designer and Team Captain Elise Hecht that volleyball was not really my sport. The last time I had ever tried to play volleyball was my junior year of high school in a class aptly named “Volleyball, Tennis & Badminton.” But once Elise explained that this volleyball was more “drink beer and trash talk” than “play volleyball,” I was committed.

At Trueman’s Place in Soulard, there’s a single beach-­like battleground tucked behind a pretty standard bar and patio. I quickly realize that whoever decided to put 30 foot tall nets around the court was a genius ­  volleyballs are quick to come flying towards those more intent on enjoying a beverage than playing the game. I arrived shortly before the 9PM game time and the team was warming up with a couple buckets of Anheuser­Busch products. So far, Elise was right about the “drink beer” part of the HLK volleyball.

After a few brews, we make our way to the court to actually warm up. Our opponent for the night? A slightly less rag­tag looking group with a few tall, muscular dudes in headbands. Things were looking grim. Then things started looking even more grim when the first serve came flying over the net — a scorching line drive headed straight for a spot in the sand completely void of HLK players.

One nothing.

Two nothing.

Seven nothing.

I think it was eight nothing before we earned a point, I can’t really remember. It was a blur.

We lost the first game, somehow managing to scrounge up at least a double digit amount of points before finally succumbing to an impressive opposing squad. As was the post­game custom at Trueman’s, we came together for some “good game” high­fives and made our way back to the buckets full of Anheuser­Busch products to refuel. It was much needed.

Our plan for game two, as dictated by Senior Art Director Rob Hutti, was simple: “get the ball over the net.” Miraculously, it worked. We won the game by slim margin, forcing a third game in the best of three series. Winning a game was a big deal — it wasn’t something that happened too often. But there’s something to be said about teams that can stick together despite a lack of victories. Without losing, winning would never really feel that good. And to this team, winning really felt good. The only thing keeping me from really getting excited was the excessive amount of sand that was already stuck in my shorts and would be sure to fall out in the drivers seat of my car later.

Game three went much like game one, which was disappointing after what looked like a glimmer of hope only a few minutes earlier. A few more “good game” high fives later we were back surrounding the buckets of Anheuser­Busch products. It wasn’t a bad place to be. Fellow intern Lauren and I chatted with some real life HLK­ers about everything from grocery stores to how interns should have to win at volleyball to earn a full time job. (Hopefully that’s not the case for me. I might be unemployed forever.)

The chance to talk to our newfound co­workers felt easier here than it did in the office. No longer were there desks or walls or fluorescent lights, but some ramshackle patio furniture and the shared experience of losing. I had an actual conversation with people that I passed in the kitchen. I laughed with people I only saw in the parking lot. I’ll be the first to admit that I’m hyper­competitive, even when it comes to friendly volleyball games. But even with the loss, I still left Trueman’s Place satisfied.

The 80/20 Rule

Regardless of your role at an agency, nothing is more important than being able to manage your time wisely. Those were a few wise words taken from Patrick, our strategy mentor, during the first week at HLK. At this point, I think I can vouch for that. Most things in life (effort/work, reward/money, output/time) are not dispersed evenly. Some things in life contribute more than others. I could create a long, elaborate post on this topic, but I'm not one to contradict. So, when you begin to feel overloaded with work or stuck on a small detail of a project, it is important to remember the following things:


1. Majority of results come from a minority of inputs.

2. Focus on the 20% of things that make a difference instead of the 80% that doesn't add much.

3. "Work smart on the right thing"


Okay, you get the idea, I'm saying the same thing over and over. If you didn't read anything in this post besides the sentences in bold above, you'd still be well on your way to understanding time management. The other 80% of the content supports, but isn't necessary to, the success of your understanding the importance of time management skills. And so, in the spirit of the topic, I digress.


Beyond the Application: Improving Your Presence on LinkedIn

As a recent college graduate, something I’ve been working on is tweaking my online presence to impress advertising professionals. Facebook and Twitter are now second nature to me, but LinkedIn has always felt a little strange. After growing tired of guessing what’s appropriate etiquette for LinkedIn, I decided to ask the woman who’s in charge of finding the best and brightest for HLK - HR Director, Meredith Osborn.  

One thing that surprised me was how influential LinkedIn is when landing an interview. When Meredith receives an application, she says that the first thing she does is go straight to the applicant’s LinkedIn profile. It allows for a more in-depth, proactive search that isn’t narrowed to one page. It’s an important part of her hiring process, and since she’s the one who does the hiring for the Launchpad internship, here are a few tips she gave me on how to best use LinkedIn to your advantage:

1. Include a hyperlink of your profile on your resume. This will take Meredith directly to your page and will ensure that she receives even more detail on all of your past experiences. Plus, you’ll save her more time, and that could potentially get you some brownie points.

2. Don’t be shy – ask for a recommendation from a professor or supervisor. LinkedIn recommendations give the writer more flexibility to write about you how they want and when they want. It’s much easier, more personal and takes less time than formal letters of recommendation.  

3. Connect with whomever you can. The more people that you connect with, the wider your search possibilities. You do not have to be the person’s best friend or co-worker before you can connect with them. Make sure to include a personal note if the person you want to connect with isn’t a just a peer or friend from school.

4. You can join up to 50 groups – start joining! Groups are a great way to learn about job openings and networking events. It also shows that you keep up with industry news and might even offer opportunities to interact with agencies.

5. Maintain contact with recruiters. If you notice regular job postings, keep in contact about once every month. Other than that, send a friendly note about every two months or so. This shows them that you’re interested.

6. Ask about potential internships or freelance work if there isn’t an opening. You know, it never hurts to ask! Internships and freelance work are one of the best ways to get your foot in the door. It will also show that you’re a proactive go-getter. Who wouldn’t want to hire that?

7. NO grammar mistakes. A profile that’s sloppily made is worse than having no profile at all. 

P.S. If you’re interested in interning here at HLK, Meredith is the gal that you need to know. Here are a few things about the woman who started the Launchpad program and gave me all of this wonderful LinkedIn advice.


The lady who helped launch Launchpad, Meredith Osborn, HR Director at HLK.

Meredith received a Bachelor of Science in Psychology at Southern Illinois University. After undergrad, she pursued a Master’s of Human Developmental Counseling at the University of Illinois. She spent the first several years of her career working as a Counselor at Saint Louis University while she also advised for several different Greek organizations. Meredith says that her experience in higher education has given her more opportunities networking with career counselors, universities and recent graduates. If you want to connect with Meredith, here is her LinkedIn.