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. 

Revolution and Reverence

  Beyond the ADDYs 2014 logo

We finally got to have our first beer on the job at Urban Chestnut in the Grove. A cross between a traditional German biergarten and a modern craft brewery, Urban Chestnut has created a “new world meets old world” approach to brewing. Equipped with a European-inspired, walk-up bar and an industrial factory vibe, the brewing company has become a patronage to revolution and reverence. The newly opened Urban Chestnut was the perfect setting for ad agencies in St. Louis to celebrate their award-winning campaigns at “Beyond the ADDYs,” a sold-out event put on by the St. Louis Ad Club. We were excited to get free access to the event and a free lunch, too!

Fresh off the Ameren new business win, HLK’s very own Joe Leahy gave the introductory address followed by presentations from Boxing Clever, Cannonball and Rodgers Townsend. It was an exciting opportunity as interns to hear first-hand how ad agencies formulate and execute a successful campaign, especially as we are in the midst of our own. We received rare insight from the creatives behind the campaigns which made us think and laugh, and inspiration that left us awestruck. As each agency gave commentary on their campaign and walked us through the creative process, we started to learn just how important revolution and reverence could be in this industry.

Coming in wide-eyed and fresh faced to the world of advertising; we are starting to learn that you need both revolution and reverence to be a successful agency. Of course, advertising is about revolution. No one gets to the top by staying the same. Changing our tools and thinking are necessary to any agency’s survival. Without it, we would be in the advertising graveyard of lost potential and hopeless causes. But you also have to never forget where you came from and always be inspired. That’s where reverence comes into play. Sometimes that just means coming together over a beer to celebrate ideas that are bigger than yourself, your agency, and maybe even the industry itself.

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).