What Actually Gets Used in the Real World

You know that age old saying “I’ll never use this in the real world?” Well, I hate to burst your bubble, but you actually use more of it than the you thought. In the ad world, you can have clients who operate in any industry, and you will become a near expert on everything about that company. So, knowing how a seed becomes a plant or where that one city is on a map suddenly becomes handy. Oh, and those acronyms you either learned or made up in your head to pass that one class in your major? You might not want to get rid of those yet. So, here are five things I thought I would never use in the real world, but used in the short six weeks as an intern.


A.U.D.I.E.N.C.E. -

Somewhere in the early days of journalism school, a professor will tell you that this acronym will help you narrow down and build an audience. And you probably sat there thinking “Why would I remember this long acronym. I’m never going to use this.” Week 2 into the internship and I found myself googling the acronym for building a target audience, because not only did I not remember what the letters stood for, but also what the letters were in general. This one acronym makes it a lot easier to think beyond just demographics and psychographics of an audience to really put yourself into their shoes, which, trust me, helps a lot when you’re struggling for that big idea.

The 5 Why’s -

I had a management professor who spent a good three hours lecturing on the 5 why’s and how it helps one problem solve. Admittedly, I may have scrolled through countless social media apps on my phone while it lay hidden behind a notebook, but that topic would soon become a reoccurring theme. A month later, my mass media research professor started asking why to nearly every student answer in class (Yes, it drove us all nuts). And here I am as an intern doing that same exact thing.

In particular, the 5 why’s is a method to discover the actual problem and not the surface level one. Let’s say the problem is that Coffee Shop A doesn’t have enough sales, so they ask you to create a campaign that will increase sales. Start off by asking why sales are low and then ask why after every answer; the end result is the actual problem.


Segment. Target. Position. Although I remembered this acronym, I do also remember sitting in class wondering if real world people sat down and did this or just went through the motions of it. Week 4 and I’m sitting at my computer typing STP into a google doc. If you have a new product or a new campaign objective compared to what the client has done in the past, this really helps you figure out what makes them so great, because you obviously know why the client is amazing, but their target audience may not.

Math -

If you majored in journalism, I guarantee you thought you would never use math. Wrong, but don’t worry. It’s not the really hard calculus stuff, but basic math and those annoying worded math problems suddenly become real. All you really need to know is addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. (That’s a lot, I know). The catch is that sometimes you have to use all of that just to get one number, and if you are like me, you haven’t done that in two or three years.

Even worse: time sheets. You will have to figure out how to add up hours, and for some of us it is really difficult adding hours when numbers are on a scale of ten and hours go up to twelve. If you have no idea what I tried to explain there, then consider yourself lucky, because you don’t suffer from this problem. Hint: google time calculator to help you.

SWOT Analysis -

I cannot tell you how many SWOT analyses I have done in my life, but college will not be the end. It’s not just an exercise to get you thinking like the advertiser and not the consumer; it’s a process that helps build a campaign. Shortly after receiving our first creative brief, we found ourselves repeating and bickering with one another because we all knew the same thing but no one had written it down. So SWOT analysis went up on the very helpful whiteboard in the Launchpad room.

On a side note, during our first client pitch, the client told us how refreshing it was to see a SWOT analysis as he hadn’t seen one in years. Either it normally gets excluded from the presentation or simply goes unused, but either way it is very helpful and we interns recommend it.


I mainly showed you guys just the things that come from your major courses here, but in reality you never know what client you’ll have in the future. So, try to remember the random facts in that bio class you took as a gen ed freshman year or maybe keep that notebook from the one history course you almost always fell asleep in, because it might just be handy somewhere down the line.  


Up, Up, and Away

You met Ad Infinitum six weeks ago, but now those six weeks have past and we must unfortunately part ways. Those six weeks were jam packed with people to meet and things to learn. We quickly became integrated into the HLK culture which is not only made up of talented individuals, but also occasionally their friendly dogs. Despite our first day anxiety in which every one of us wore our best “business professional” attire, we learned you don’t in fact have to dress up for work every day. Shorts and flip flops will suffice. And most importantly, we learned that celebrating after a presentation with chocolate martinis at 11:30am is also very ok. In fact, it’s applauded.

Of course we learned much more than how to dress for the job and that chocolate martinis are quite amazing. We were given a taste of the type of work HLK achieves on a daily basis. Since the eight of us represented the different departments of the agency, in many ways we were functioning as a microcosm of the company. At the beginning we were admittedly a somewhat dysfunctional tiny eight person company, struggling to fully understand our position within the internship, much less the company as a whole. But we very quickly became another HLKer and eventually made sense of our responsibilities, creating two campaigns of which we were all extremely proud.

They say time flies when you’re having fun. But I say, time flies when you’re having fun AND you only have six weeks to figure out how an advertising agency works, what your role entails, how your job functions within an advertising campaign, and how to execute a project. When you have only six weeks, your motivation is that much greater and the reward that much sweeter. As our group name suggests, we know no limit when it comes to pushing ourselves and doing the best that we can. With the help of our mentors and the supportive and welcoming HLK community we all walked away from the experience with a broader perspective. We learned that success is not only an individual feat but a collaborative effort that requires HLKs three guiding principles: Be Brave. Be Thoughtful. Be Curious.

Keeping in mind the infinite nature of our group name Ad Infinitum, I can think of no better use of a Mean Girls reference to represent our journey and the lessons that we learned:  “The limit does not exist.”

Dear Future Content Intern

Dear Future Content Intern,

    Now that the Launchpad internship is drawing to a close, I can officially say I kind of know what I’m doing. It took a little bit of trial and error to get the hang of it. So let me save you the trouble and share my seasoned expertise with you.

    You are not simply creating social media content for projects assigned to you, but you are also responsible for the Launchpad Blog. You assign, write, edit, and manage the content for the blog. More importantly you must understand and write according to the voice of the blog. This was probably the most difficult part for me, not simply because I had to find it myself, but because I also had to also communicate that to my fellow interns. To help explain, I’ve attached past blog posts that illustrate each point I’m making.

  1. Be imaginative - As interns of a full-service digital agency, our primary objective is to be imaginative in everything we do. And that includes our work for the blog. Take ordinary office topics and reimagine them in a way that hasn’t been done before. Maybe you found a conversation with your mentor particularly inspiring and want to share. Or maybe taking  selfies in different locations in the office seemed like a great idea and you wanted to write about it. Find your inspiration. Be creative. And write to your heart’s content. 

  2. Cater to the audience - We aren’t writing for the folks that run Fortune 500 companies. We are writing for ourselves and for our peers. I bet that as you were scrambling to get ready the night before your first day on the job, you were scrolling through the Launchpad blog. Remember yourself then and think about what you would have wanted to read. Would you want to read about the last dip in the stock market or why playing volleyball with your co-workers is awesome? Yea, I thought so.

  3. Be casual and conversational - Since we are targeting our peers, we need to write as if we were talking to them. This rule not only applies to your writing style, but also the format through which you want to tell your story. This is where your personal brand can come to life. Save the “thou” and “whilst” for another time and express yourself through memes and GIFs if it feels right. You already got the position, so let there’s no need to continue to impress with formalities. Instead dazzle with your unique perspective. 

  4. Tell a story - Perhaps the most difficult part of the blog is remembering to engage the audience through storytelling. You need to reign in your creativity and construct it, not only imaginatively, but also coherently. Tell your story from beginning to end, always asking why? Within an agency there are so many stories to tell, whether that’s the transition from intern life to agency life, the first week of Launchpad to the last week, or the concepting process from brainstorming ideas to giving the presentation. Find your story, ask yourself why you are interested in writing it, and WRITE.

  5. Tie it back to HLK - While this may be the most obvious, it still needs to be said. This blog celebrates your creativity, but there must be some connection back to HLK. You can’t simply write about your last Chipotle burrito because it tasted good. Maybe you discovered that a Chipotle burrito is really a metaphor for the diverse talent in the office (the Creative team is the guac that’s bursting with flavor while Account Management is the tortilla keeping everything together). Whatever you decide to write about, make sure it somehow reflects the culture at HLK as well as your personal experience and the lessons learned. 

    You are a reflection of the agency and are given an opportunity to have direct contact with others to express your personal experience as an intern of HLK. This is your chance to teach, tell a story, and exercise your creative abilities in anyway you choose.

May the creative force be with you.


Current Content Intern


Let's Talk About Coffee

As an out of town intern, there's tons of ways to explore the city whether that's through their speciality shops, markets, and parks or variety of bars. But I spent most of my time trying all the different coffee shops St. Louis has to offer. Since I came to St. Louis to do work, I often brought my work to the coffee shops when I needed a break from the office (or that one time when the AC broke and the office felt like a hot yoga studio…) I discovered that each of the different coffee shops catered to a different step in the creative process.


Kayak’s Coffee - Brainstorming

Located near Wash U’s campus and Forest Park, Kayak’s Coffee is rustic and homey, inviting customers to relax and unwind. Perfect for daydreaming and getting lost in thought, I found myself cozying up in the corner of the cafe brainstorming ideas for our campaigns. Between the aroma of freshly ground coffee, the inviting nature of the cabin interior, and the refreshing bite of the ginger tea I tried, my brain became a fountain of ideas.


Park Avenue Coffee - Creative

But every fountain of ideas must have a filter. And for that, I found myself digging into work at Park Avenue Coffee. Tucked away near Lafayette Square, this cozy coffee shop is the perfect spot for small gatherings or some peaceful time alone. Not only am I a huge fan of their iced coffees, but they are also home to the Food Network featured Gooey Butter Cake. A little sugar rush might be exactly what you need to get those creative juices flowing.


Blueprint Coffee - Execution

When it’s time to execute on those crazy good ideas, there’s no better place to go than a cafe that serves coffee in science beakers. Located on the Loop, Blueprint Coffee is just a step away from lots of other shops and restaurants. The cafes interior, which celebrates minimalistic design and lots of natural light, encourages the young professional or student or HLK intern to focus on the task at hand with a piping hot cup of science coffee.


Goshen Coffee - Crunch Time

Just a parking lot away from HLK, Goshen Coffee is the perfect place to get out of the office, by barely leaving the office. And when it’s crunch time, a parking lot length walk may be all you have time for. Don’t be deceived by their small setup next to 4 Hands Brewing Co., the staff is highly knowledgeable about the coffee they brew, giving you that caffeine fix to push through those final creative meetings or into the wee hours of the night.


The HLK Kitchen - Final Touches

It’s presentation day. Everyone is scrambling to implement last minute changes into the powerpoint, to straighten their ties, and to take a quick breath before presenting weeks worth of work. One last cup of coffee might be just what you need. Luckily HLK’s very own kitchen is always stocked with coffee, accompanied by an assortment of creamers, hot chocolate packets, and endless jars of goodies to satisfy your sweet tooth. It may not be fancy, but it does the job.

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 Ingredients of Good Experience

Here we are, at the beginning of week four, fresh off the first pitch and getting down to the grind on our second project. It’s crazy to think that we only have three weeks left. In addition to the challenges we have already faced and have yet to face, Team Quasar certainly hasn't forgotten the importance of just having a good time.

After three weeks, we have shared our worst ideas (and our best ideas), witnessed various status meetings, and proofed anything from mind-numbing product guides to exciting RFPs. At this point, we have worked on a client project all the way through and pitched the final product to our mentors, aka the client. Team Quasar had the opportunity to work with and learn from each other, all of who come from different educational backgrounds. In celebration of our successes at HLK so far, we’ve bonded over food and drinks at McGurk’s and delivered Ted Drewe’s ice cream to the entire office, which were both entertaining feats to say the least.

Immediately following the close of this internship, I will be returning to the University of Illinois to begin my last year of undergrad. Most college seniors are stuck between severe bouts of senioritis and desperately clinging on to every moment before graduation. Before HLK, I'd say I was leaning toward the latter. For the fall semester, I was enrolled in random electives that were “easy A’s” as well as a few advertising classes to wrap up my degree. I was ready to kick back and relax before the impending onset of the “real world”.

Getting to know my teammates and witnessing the skill required for every role has motivated me to learn more and, subsequently, change my senior schedule for the better (why was I enrolled in ice skating?). Now, I’m signed up to take classes such as media entrepreneurship, media sales, and persuasive writing. While maybe they aren't "easy A's", these courses will help me understand more about the industry, and, therefore, become a better team player in my future career. Like I said earlier, I’m not forgetting to have fun. Coaching wheelchair basketball is one course I kept on my schedule that will definitely fulfill that requirement.

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.

All Systems Go

After getting cleared for takeoff, Launchpad’s second cycle is off the ground! Although the first week consisted mostly of meetings and copious amounts of coffee, Team Quasar is off to a strong start. We were able to learn a bit about the dynamics of each department here at HLK, pick the brains of our mentors and view some past work before being assigned our first client brief. We learned about everything from time management to industry lingo, as well as a bit about our mentors themselves.

The great thing about the Launchpad Internship is that our mentors are different each session, demonstrating the depth of knowledge and skills that each employee exhibits here at HLK.

Since last cycle has already acquainted you with the dogs of the office, we thought it was time we introduced you to their owners. You know, a few of the people that actually make things happen around here.

Without further ado, we present you with this session’s Mission Control.

Cecilia, Account Management Mentor for Stephanie

• With 14+ years of marketing & advertising experience, Cecilia is proof that positions are earned through dedication to client relationships and long hours, not just something your entitled to upon graduation.

• As a liaison between client and agency, it is important to be able to defend the agency’s work. Have a rationale. Have answers for the client.

• A "retainer" is a word that refers to a client that pays on a regular basis rather than a project basis.

Ross, Art Direction Mentor for Justin


• When told that ‘your brief is showing’ it means that your creative execution is literally a repetition of your strategy: this is a big no-no.

• As an Associate Creative Director, he claims that the most rewarding aspect of his job is being pleasantly surprised by creative ideas from his team even more than seeing his own work come alive.

• Ross is actually his middle name. He walks exceptionally fast. He's a Webster University alumnus and also has experience with the Webster University account.

Jamie, Content Development Mentor for Lauren

• If you ask her a question, don't expect an answer because she will probably answer by asking you a question.

• She believes the content team could benefit from organization similar to the workings of a newsroom.

• She’s done almost everything. Before taking a content role, she worked in account management. She also has experience with strategy, media planning and buying, research, analytics… the list goes on.

Patrick, Strategy Mentor for Jenny

• Patrick seems to know when he has shifted too far off-topic and will stop mid-sentence and say “..but that's a story for another time..”

• The most important consideration for a strategist? Stay objective.

• Claims the 80/20 rule inspired by Pareto's Principle is a great time management philosophy, but that's a story for another time.

Andrea, Research & Analytics Mentor for Emily

• Targeting philosophy is to find the BEST people at the CHEAPEST cost.

• The transparency that an analytics dashboard provides is often scary to the client.

• She stresses the importance of the ability to work with a wide variety of personalities, not taking anything too personally and listening well, all of which are vital for success in this business.


Jill, Media Buying & Placement Mentor for all

• She's very sad that HLK does not currently have a media intern, but she gets all of us instead!

• Media people really do get to meet cool people sometimes (Jimmy Fallon, for example.)

• Claims the job has truly strengthened her negotiating skills in her personal life.


Maeve, Copywriting Mentor for Nick

Sadly, we did not get to have a one-on-one meet with Maeve, but here are some things we’ve gathered:

• Maeve is a master of voice, both the literary and literal kinds. When she read the HLK philosophy aloud during orientation, all of the interns were moved.

• She’s a part of the HLK volleyball team that plays on Monday nights at Trueman’s.

• Her dog, Murphy, is the only one that has had the courage to approach the Launchpad Intern Room, which is perhaps the official approval we needed.

If there’s one thing that we have learned from our orientation at HLK, it’s that everyone here is incredibly welcoming and more than willing to give each of the interns the best learning experience possible.

Besides a job, what more could one ask for?