My Princeternship was a one-day experience during Intercession with Mr. Tom Magnus ‘77 at Wunderman, the world’s largest global marketing services network, in New York City. Having no background experience with ad agency functions at all; I walked into the building at 8:45 am as a clueless, excited little kid entering a big new world. The moment that I stepped off the elevator, Mr. Magnus was there to greet me with a huge smile and a warm welcome. He showed me his office and gave me a quick tour of Wunderman, which spans over about 5 floors, while introducing me to a number of his colleagues on the way.
At 9 am, Mr. Magnus had a short meeting, which he allowed me to sit in on, and from this, I got a strong sense of the communication and coordination that is vital between marketing professionals. Afterwards, at 10 am, Mr. Magnus gave Rachel (my fellow Princetern) and me an assignment to complete while he was away at a meeting with a client. He gave us a list of the names, titles, and floor locations of several of his colleagues in various departments at Wunderman and encouraged us to speak with them to learn about the different functions at an ad agency. This was the most exciting and educational part of the day for me. We were basically given complete freedom to explore any part of Wunderman, and I poked my head into almost every person’s office or cubicle. At first I felt a bit shy and intrusive, but I quickly learned that the people at Wunderman are very friendly and willing to share their experiences or offer advice. I spoke with account managers, strategic planners, project managers, creative admins, art directors, flash animators, and even a director at the Madison Group Graphics Center, which is essentially Wunderman’s studio or production hub. Each person gave a different perspective on their role within the ad agency and how their various career paths led them to where they are now, but overall, I got the feeling that work at an ad agency is very fast-paced and demanding. Many of the workers that I talked to expressed that what excites them the most about their job is the fact that no day is the same for them – there is always something new, and clients are constantly coming to them with new projects or problems to be solved, so it never gets boring.
Besides understanding the actual work at an ad agency, as a visual artist, I was also especially interested in getting a feel for how a creative environment is fostered within a professional setting. I was very excited to observe that almost every wall and corner around the Wunderman office was a testament to the creative energies of the people who work there. The products they designed are displayed on every floor, vibrantly-colored walls greet you at every turn, giant chalkboards and markerboards literally present a blank slate for the generation of new ideas, cubicles are fully adorned with bright images and other inspirational works of art, and there are even bean bag chairs and a ping-pong table. Being able to explore Wunderman in person gave me a sense of what a creative office environment is like – it’s a great balance between formal and fun.
At noon, Rachel and I reconvened with Mr. Magnus in his office, and he generously bought lunch for all of us. As we ate, we listened in on a conference call, and afterwards, we shared with him our morning findings. He also explained to us in more detail how the technological advances in the digital age are changing the ways in which marketing researchers and strategists are targeting their audiences today as well as how Wunderman works with its clients, particularly one of their oldest and largest ones – Citi. We had the opportunity to ask him any questions that we had about the network or the advertising field in general, and he allowed us to take a look at several publications on Wunderman’s global marketing strategies as well as tips on how to land an advertising job.
At 3 pm, Mr. Magnus set up a meeting for us with Toni Iacono, a Director in the Human Resources Department, who spoke to us about summer internship opportunities that Wunderman offers to college students. She answered any questions we had and even gave us copies of textbooks that are part of the internship curriculum. The rest of the day consisted of more internal meetings with Mr. Magnus, from which I consistently observed the importance of communication and cooperation in the profession – between individuals within the same department, between different departments at Wunderman, between Wunderman and its clients. Everyone articulated their ideas and opinions very clearly, and it was obvious that they worked on every project as a team.
His responsibilities and meetings were many, but throughout the entire day, Mr. Magnus was very keen on allowing Rachel and I to gain as comprehensive of an understanding as possible of a day in the life of an ad agency worker and made sure that we got everything that we wanted to learn out of the experience. Thanks to him and all of his incredibly open and friendly colleagues in every department, I walked out of Wunderman at 5 pm with a much better understanding of how an ad agency works, what it feels like to work in one, and even some new insight into marketing strategies. If anyone is interested in learning more about a career in the marketing/advertising field, I highly recommend this Princeternship.