Mission Control

I love to learn. I’m always seeking to absorb new information whether it is a newspaper article about recent stock market trends or chatting with my 13-year-old cousin about the pros and cons of Justin Beiber and One Direction. Turns out I’m a Belieber.

My zest for learning is why interning at HLK with their Launchpad program is a perfect fit for me.  The Launchpad program provides experiential learning within a market leading advertising agency. Each day I learn something new about advertising and then I am asked to apply that knowledge to our Launchpad projects.

My favorite aspect of Launchpad is our Mission Control. The Launchpad program places each intern with a mentor in his or her department, or as we call them, our Mission Control. The mentor-mentee piece of Launchpad creates a teacher-student dynamic that is more of a conversation and less of a lecture.  Our mentors offer guidance on our projects, bring us in to help on their projects and are always free to chat and dole out advice. 

As a strategy intern, my mentor is a seasoned strategist who may be one of the smartest people I have ever met, and I’m not just saying that to gain brownie points (but I’ll take them). She brings over 8 years of advertising and strategy experience, and is such a wealth of knowledge that I walk away from each of our 30 minute conversations feeling like I read a 300 page text book.

The role of strategy requires you to find all the pieces of the puzzle, put the puzzle together, and, then, question the puzzle to find what is missing. It is a role that can lead to dead ends, forks in the road, or get you completely lost in the middle of nowhere. While stitching together the strategy for On the Run (our first Launchpad project), I got a little lost trying to go in several directions at once. My first draft of the strategy was a jumbled mess trying to do too much. Luckily, my ‘Mission Control’ was there to ground me. She helped me narrow down a strategy that pinpointed the problem and exacted a solution. In that moment, my mentor taught me an important lesson of how to look at the entire puzzle without ignoring the individual pieces. For a guy like me, who tries to cram in as much information as possible, learning to hone in on the singular was a much needed lesson.

While the Launchpad program pairs each intern with a mentor, I can confidently say that everyone at HLK is a mentor. Everyone at HLK is willing to lend a helping hand and turn our questions into a learning experience.  In just 4 weeks, I have learned more about advertising and strategy than I did in 4 years of college. The Launchpad internship has definitely given me the tools to launch my career in marketing and advertising. 

Pitch Perfect

Once I joined the HLK team as an intern, I quickly learned the importance of teamwork, passion, and being punctual. When I first walked into the office, I was greeted by one of the happiest ladies I have ever met, HR Director Meredith Osborn. She showed me around the office, introduced me to my team, and briefed me on our first project. I had a team of people who were more than happy to give me a push into my role as the researcher. At first, I was extremely overwhelmed, considering I joined the team three days late. Nonetheless, I finally got to join team Nebula!

After three weeks of hard work and getting used to the company, it was time to present our first pitch. The afternoon before we presented, we all stayed extra hours in the office fixing every little detail in our project. Whenever we felt confident that our presentation was perfect, we found five more things to improve. Finally, around 7pm we all decided that it was "pitch perfect" and that we were ready for the morning. As I laid down that night, I couldn’t control my mind from racing. I was so nervous that it wasn’t going to be perfect or that something would go wrong. Despite all the nerves, I was so excited to be able to show our hard work to the On The Run team.

This was something that all my years in college and experience presenting led up to. This was our moment to show our mentors/client team what we could do as a team. We had an opportunity that most companies don’t give to their employees until they have been working for them for at least five years or more. 

The day of the pitch, I could tell that everyone was anxious and adrenaline was pumping. Miranda put on some music to calm our nerves and set the tone for our audience as they began filing in. Nelly's "Hot in Herre" (yes, "Herre") gave us the confidence we needed to let loose and have a little fun when presenting. We gave a fluid, strong presentation and took pride in everything we did. It was exciting to finally see all of our ideas come together in a real pitch. Afterwards, I was so proud of our team and the way we collaborated in three short weeks to produce a winning campaign. It was an amazing feeling to know we accomplished all of our goals all while being supported and encouraged by everyone at HLK.

Welcome to Launchpad

We’ve been a team for just one week, but the Launchpad interns are meshing and collaborating nicely. There are six of us: Account Management Intern Miranda Lopez, Art Direction Intern Justin Tolliver, Content Development Intern Liza Poskin (that's me), Copywriting Intern Molly Gingrich, Research and Analytics Intern Lindsey Wolfgang, and Strategy Intern Philip Azar. We have branded ourselves as team Nebula, named after the interstellar clouds where stars are born. We like to think we’re clever. Our mission is not only to help launch Launchpad and make a name for the program, but also to take on real client projects. Along the way, we are guided by “Mission Control,” or mentors from each department at HLK specifically assigned to guide and teach each intern.

In our first week, we went through a couple days of orientation and introduction to HLK before getting down to business. We got to meet the partners and learn a little history of The Hughes Group before it became HLK. We've met so many people already from all of the different departments and got the chance to sit down with each team individually to get insight into their jobs and a better feel for each department's role in the overall process. We've learned that in order to work together as a high-functioning team, it is important to understand what goes into each department's work. Learning about each position creates a level of mutual respect that helps foster group success. On our third day in the office, we got another chance to network at a fun and delicious lunchtime potluck. 

We are currently most excited/overwhelmed with the fact that we were given our first assignment for the local convenience store, On the Run. Our task is daunting, but full of possibilities. Team Nebula is up for the challenge and ready to work!

Keep reading to hear from each of the six Launchpad interns over the next few weeks.

The Launchpad team pretending to be rockets after our first day in the office (not pictured: Lindsey Wolfgang).