Kelly Rafey ’16, Duncan/Channon

Kelly-RafeyAnyone with at least a meager appreciation for cool design, a creative atmosphere, and an excellent view would be thrilled with the opportunity to spend a day at Duncan/Channon, a midsized advertising agency in San Francisco, CA. I spent the day shadowing Adam Flynn ’08, a brand strategist for D/C who made sure that my emerging perspective of the advertising industry was comprehensive, and that I understood every person’s independent but critical role in the industry.

The day began with an all-staff meeting in the Tip, D/C’s own bar and lounge perched innocently on the roof of the Grant Building. The meeting gave everyone the chance to gather and debrief before a hectic week. Production showed their two latest commercials, the Creative Director gave a presentation on gender discriminationRafey 1 in advertising, and I got the chance to chat with Robert Duncan, D/C’s President and Founder. These discussions continued over the day as I met copywriters, strategists and filmmakers, and learned the responsibilities of each position within the company. I was exposed to sides of advertising that I am seldom conscious of as a consumer: The purchasing and placement of the media used to broadcast advertisements, as well as the relationship between advertisers and their clients. I was able to watch several “manifestos” (videos designed to prove to a client that D/C understands the client’s perspective and mission, and therefore is qualified to reshape and promote the client’s image). In short, I walked away from the Princeternship with a satisfying and overall understanding of what an advertising agency does – from social research to creative conception, from media strategy to physical production. It was a fantastic and genuinely enjoyable opportunity to learn about an industry that I initially knew very little about.

I must mention – though it has little to do with the advertising agency itself – Rafey 3that Adam was a spectacular host. A good part of the day (lunch and dinner, at least) was stuffed full of entertaining conversation about Princeton, professors, particularly good commercials, Star Wars, foreign genres of dance and self-defense, the Western literary canon, etc. And yet most of it did tie back to social and cultural understanding – essentially the foundation of the advertising industry. It was a fantastic experience, and one that I would enthusiastically encourage anyone interested in advertising, design, culture, or social studies to repeat.

Vivienne Chen ’14, The Huffington Post

Vivian ChenAs a freelance writer, I’ve always found the Huffington Post to be an ephemeral online news entity—a collection of editors’ names appended with @ signs, to whom you pitch and interact with almost entirely through digital communications. So it was an incredible and illuminating experience to actually be able to visit and intern at the Huffington Post newsroom in downtown Manhattan.

Jahnabi Barooah ’11, Assistant Editor of the Religion section for Huffington Post, introduced me to her team, which included former Princeton affiliates like Senior Religion Editor Paul Raushenbush. In fact, Huffington Post was laden with Princeton alums in various editorial departments—Tech, Business, Women—and the Chief of Staff, Koda Wang, whom I met on my first day.

The newsroom, which Huffington Post got from AOL after their Chen 5merger, is an expansive maze of people behind desks and screens—all tuned to news channels, news sites, and content-producing web media. Brightly lit but generally mellow, the Huffington Post newsroom is decidedly young, looking more like the office of a start-up business than a traditional, New York Times newsroom.

I was able to meet editors in the flesh for whom I’ve written for in my past blogging experience, which was great to finally be able to put a face to an email address. Moreover, I learned the responsibilities of working in an editor’s position at Huffington Post, something that I’ve never experienced.

A lot of being an editor is generating and managing content and web media. In the new age of information consumption, HuffPo editors have to be constantly checking and updating Facebook, Twitter, and their own comments sections on the articles on their site. They roundtable every Friday to discuss upcoming news stories, trends, and how their specific sections are doing.

My first day projects included aggregating some informationChen 2 on the history of religious symbols, as well as learning more about the different roles of the Huffington Post staff. Perhaps the highlight was talking with Koda, Arianna Huffington’s right-hand man, whose role as Chief of Staff allowed me to learn HuffPo’s visions for expansion and evolution. In an age where old, print media and payment structures are struggling, Huffington Post is attempting to continue its growth across countries and the worldwide web.

On Day 2, I learned more about Huffington Post’s foray into streaming broadcast, HuffPost Live. Looking much more like CNN studio, HuffPost Live’s broadcast room is a novel attempt to incorporate new media and traditional televised news. With cameras, sets, anchors, and producers, HuffPost Live was an impressive addition to the written newsroom.

I finished off the day by participating in HuffPo Religion’s Twitter chats on scripture. While I wasn’t an expert in the subject matter at hand (Torah versions of the Ten Commandments), I was fascinated to see the Twitter chat platform and learn how to manage a live chat via the social network filled with #hashtags, re-tweets, and 140-character limits.

Overall, I couldn’t have asked for a better mentor than Jahnabi, who was flexible and extremely helpful in making my Princeternship a worthwhile time. As someone who is interested in writing and journalism in my future career, this was an important centering experience for me to really learn what my values as a journalist and news reporter are and what kind of future publications would exist for me to work with. And to cap off my experience at Huffington Post, I ran into Arianna herself as she worked in her fishbowl-like office and she greeted me with a smile and a hello!

Samantha Kaseta ’15, Scholastic

Samantha-KasetaThe first day of my Princeternship began around at 7:45 am on January 8th when I hopped on a train to New York City and made the more than two hour commute into Soho. Taking the subways during the morning rush did little to quell my nerves about meeting Elizabeth Ward ‘85, my Princeternship host and Editorial Director for Scholastic’s Classroom and Community Group. Fortunately, I had nothing to be nervous about, since Elizabeth and her coworkers were extremely welcoming and gracious to me, and included me from the beginning in their projects and meetings.

First, Elizabeth showed me around the office, and gave me an overview of the things I would experience over the three days of my internship, which included helping with market research, reading over brainstorming charts, proofreading, and interviewing various people who worked different jobs in the office. I began by learning about the most recent programs and series of books that Scholastic already had in the classrooms; it was incredibly interesting to me to learn how many people had to work on developing the books – the creative team who initiated the idea, the people who developed the idea and thought of specific subjects for individual books, the authors who wrote them, the content editors, the teaching material creators, the marketing team, the content generators, etc. All of this came together in various programs intended to be part of a classroom curriculum, and with specific teaching goals. This, to me, was the most striking thing about Scholastic – everything that was produced, and every product that was bought, was being used to teach a child something.

I came to realize over the next few days that the recognition of the importance of children’s education gave the people working at Scholastic a real sense of purpose. Many of them told me in interviews that they felt like their work was making a difference – and as anyone who has an education knows, their work indeed does. After learning about previously created projects, I sat in on a series of meetings about a new project that was currently being developed. The idea had been pitched, and now market research was necessary to see what the demand would be in schools, especially in the context of digital reading and multimedia. While a market researcher looked at reports on technology in the classroom, and made inferences based on current programs, it was my job to go online to try and find evidence of demand for or use of this kind of product using teachers’ blogs, which was interesting, albeit tedious as I combed chat room after forum for discussion of this kind of program. However, on my third day, my research paid off as I was able to write up a report and make an evaluation of the teacher demand.

Another very interesting part of each day was the time I spent sitting in on meetings with Elizabeth and her team. The dynamic in these meetings was always very collaborative, open to brainstorming, and encouraging of new ideas and feedback. Many of these meetings were about the design of a sample book from the new series, and involved the layout of a page map, and its pacing, navigation, photo content, and element of fun. There was much interaction with (and often rejection of) prevailing concepts of design – such as the philosophy of the title page, and how many headers can go on a single spread. (I found myself always scurrying to write down new vocabulary like “ghosting” and “slug line.”) 

Over the course of my three days at Scholastic, I had the chance to interview many members of the office creative team, many of whom were very young and recently graduated from college, and to learn about their varied backgrounds. They all seemed to have happened upon careers in the publishing industry in different ways, such as previous internships, or chancing to know someone in the office, and they all seemed to have majored in different fields (and not, contrary to expectation, only English or literature, but also politics and journalism). Everyone brought a slightly different skill set to the same creative table, and although almost every one of them told me not to go into publishing for the money, they all told me that they enjoyed what they were doing and saw their jobs as having an extra-monetary value.

Overall, I had an absolutely wonderful experience. The office atmosphere was open and welcoming, and although the work is often difficult, the creative element is never far away, and the ability to both brainstorm and to organize are valued. I can’t possibly include all the things I learned about how ideas are developed and presented into this one essay, but I can and do highly recommend that anyone who loves to be creative or is passionate about education seek out experiences like this one. Finally, I couldn’t have asked for a more gracious and genial host in Elizabeth, and I would like to deeply thank her and everyone in the office for accommodating me and helping me learn as much as possible!

Kristi Yeung ’14, LLNS Advertising

Kristi-YeungAs I walked into the famous Daily News Building for my three-day Princeternship at LLNS, I could hardly contain my excitement.  I first heard about healthcare advertising about a year ago.  Ever since then, I had been eager to learn more about copywriting in the industry because it seemed to be my ideal career of writing creatively about science.  At this Princeternship, I gained a firsthand look at the career I had previously only read about at one of the best healthcare communications firms around.

When the elevator door opened onto the LLNS floor, I was surprised by its calmness.  However, the emptiness was not at all reflective of the warm hospitality shown to my fellow intern, Emmy, and me.  We were informed that many of the employees had been up late working on a pitch proposal.  We had arrived at LLNS during a busy time of late nights and weekend hours, making it less surprising that the office was empty early in the morning.  Once the office filled up, I was struck by how friendly everyone was.  Although LLNS was in the middle of preparing a pitch, none of the employees showed any signs of stress.  In fact, everyone was extremely accommodating, making time to speak with Emmy and me despite his or her busy schedule.

The day officially began when Emmy and I met our host, Jessica Wey ’07.  When she was studying molecular biology and neuroscience at Princeton, Jessica never heard of healthcare advertising.  She fell into the industry by chance when she found a copywriting job at a firm post-graduation.  Just five years later, she is VP, Associate Creative Director at LLNS.  Jessica shared with us some items in her portfolio.  Many of these took the form of materials used by representatives of a pharmaceutical company to advertise to physicians.  These representatives often only have a few minutes with the doctor.  Therefore, the advertising materials must display comprehensive information in a new and engaging way.  Healthcare advertising can also target consumers or insurance companies.  After talking to Jessica for just one hour, I had already learned so much about the industry.

Over the next three days, Emmy and I gained an even better understanding of the industry through speaking with people from different departments.  In addition to learning more about the industry, I also learned about the skills valued in healthcare advertising, such as forward-thinking and broad interests.  The Chief Creative Officer told Emmy and me that the industry is perfect for the “eclectic.”  Sure enough, we met businessmen, editors, technology gurus, print-publication experts, visual artists, presenters, and more.  In addition, these professionals were multi-talented individuals passionate about things beyond advertising, from soccer to poetry.
During our spare time, Emmy and I worked on individual projects Jessica assigned.  Since I was interested in copywriting, my assignment gave me a better sense of the content that copywriters work with.  I found this hands-on experience a great introduction to the type of work I might do post-graduation.

Day three came too quickly.  I wished I could have stayed at LLNS to continue exploring this fascinating industry.  The Princeternship far surpassed my expectations, as I gained not only a better understanding of my own career goals but also a role model in Jessica Wey.  Thank you Jessica, Robin Rostron, everyone at LLNS, and Princeton Career Services for this educational and fun experience.  I am so grateful to have participated in this fantastic opportunity.


Emmy Williams ’15, LLNS Advertising

Emmy-WilliamsDay One:
My fellow Princetern Kristi and I arrived at LLNS Healthcare Communications early on a Wednesday morning. After a warm welcome from Kathy Bardong in Human Resources, we were surprised to find that LLNS had set aside an office for Kristi and I to share, complete with desks, computers, and our very own LLNS email accounts. We took a short tour of the office and settled into our office space, where our alum host, Associate Creative Director Jessica Wey ’07, greeted us with brisk enthusiasm and took us to our first “hot sheet meeting,” a meeting to organize the day’s tasks and check on the progress of current projects. For the first half of our first day, Jessica and Robin Rostron, director of HR, gave us a cursory explanation of the healthcare and pharmaceutical advertising industry. I had originally thought that healthcare advertising would be mostly similar to commercial advertising, but, as Jessica and Ms. Rostron were sure to inform me, the healthcare advertising field is quite distinct from its industry counterparts. LLNS, specifically, develops drug promotions for healthcare professionals, so every ad campaign has to abide by a certain set of FDA regulations designed to promote fair and true advertising. Furthermore, the pharmaceutical advertising field is relatively small, so only a handful of companies compete for the attention of “big pharma.” But, like any ad agency, pharma agencies are divided into typical function-specific divisions: account, creative, operations, production. As I witnessed at LLNS, these divisions must work together in an organized manner to accomplish any given task.

After this informative debriefing (and a wonderful lunch with Jessica), Kristi and I split up to meet with employees. I met with Jeff and Lian from the account division, who were both so friendly that we ended up chatting for a while. The account division mostly deals with client relations and communication about the project at hand; Jeff and Lian explained to me that they often developed close working relationships with representatives at pharmaceutical companies. Another interesting aspect of the industry is that of advancement: advertising associates move from agency to agency quite frequently, providing many opportunities for promotion and increased salary.

Aside from meeting our host Jessica, the highlight of my first day at LLNS was meeting with Steve Hamburg, LLNS’ Chief Creative Officer. Mr. Hamburg was not only delightfully friendly, but also very encouraging: he urged Kristi and I to develop strong writing skills and also stressed the scientific aspect of the pharmaceutical advertising field. For instance, our host Jessica, as a former molecular biology major, possesses a reliable knowledge of scientific terminology/jargon and of the biological mechanisms that make drugs effective.

Day Two:
For our second day, Jessica assigned Kristi and I some simple tasks dealing with one of LLNS’ forthcoming projects, a campaign for a new cancer drug. I was given the task of rewording some complex descriptions of its side effects into simple language that even patients without much formal education can understand. This was really exciting for me; my little blurbs about these side effects will likely be featured in a future iPad application for doctors and have the potential to be emailed to cancer patients around the globe. After completing my revisions to the text of the app, I met with Peter Wiswesser, Director of Operations, who regaled us with the story of his entrance into the pharmaceutical advertising field.

Following this meeting, Kristi and I met with Denise Roland, Director of Production Services. Production, as we learned, is involved in only the final stages of a project: the final selection of colors and paper types, the exact dimensions of a pamphlets, the type of ink. Denise even gave us some sample books and some embossed LLNS notebooks, which was very kind of her.

Day Three:
On our final day at LLNS, Kristi and I arrived early to find that LLNS set out free bagels for breakfast.Williams 1 It might seem trite, but I think that this action really represented the strong community spirit of LLNS; I felt so welcomed and appreciated at LLNS and I feel that I made some lasting connections with the employees I met there. After a hearty bagel breakfast, I worked for a few hours finding and citing credible references for the side effect symptoms I had researched the previous day. Following that, I met with Jessica D’Amico, the Account Group Supervisor. Of all the positions at LLNS, I was most interested in Ms. D’Amico’s, mainly because she deals with global client relations. She talked with me personally about my goals and aspirations and tried to help me get a sense of where I might fit within an ad agency, which was quite helpful.

After lunch, Kristi and I were lucky enough to sit in on a pitch rehearsal. LLNS is currently gearing up for a very important campaign pitch (with our host Jessica Wey as one of the key players in its creative aspect), and we learned a bit about the structure of a pitch. Delivering a pitch is a huge undertaking, requiring hundreds of hours of practice, and its success depends on how thoroughly you demonstrate your knowledge of the product to the company in addition to your creative ideas. After pitch practice ended, I met with Robin Rostron in HR once more, where she encouraged me to stay in touch via LinkedIn and offered to put me in contact with some other agencies for summer internship prospects. Kristi and I finished up our day with Jessica at a coffee shop and then headed back to campus.

Despite my initial trepidation, my experience at LLNS was overwhelmingly positive. My time spent shadowing cleared up many misconceptions of the advertising industry and showed me just how engaging a job in advertising can be. This Princeternship sufficiently piqued my interest, and I hope to return to the advertising field as a full-time intern this summer. Many thanks to Jessica Wey for her hard work in assembling an engaging itinerary, for her time, and for her honest mentorship.