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.

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?