Charlotte Levy ’16, Havas Life

Charlotte-Maher-LevyAs we entered the Madison Avenue offices of Havas Life Metro, a large TV screen near the front desk projected the banner “Welcome Princeterns!” That was the first indication of the warm reception we would receive over the course of our visit there. Despite the large size of the company, the attention we received throughout our Princeternships was highly personalized.

Our visit was extremely well organized by alumna and VP Associate Creative Director Jess Wey ‘07 and VP of Human Resources Lorraine Forster. At the beginning of each day, we were given printed schedules outlining the day’s meetings. To give us an idea of the wide range of fields incorporated within medical communications, the company arranged for us to meet with members of all the various departments. Each employee we met with had prepared a short presentation describing his or her position, daily responsibilities, and professional history. We heard about the varying journeys that led employees to their current positions. Many also showed us some of their past work, bringing to life the diverse type of projects Havas Life Metro produces.

Jess shared her portfolio with us, as did one of the copywriters on her team. The art director with whom we spoke showed us sketches from a pro bono campaign for a veterans fundraising event on which the company had worked this past summer. We saw the team’s earliest ideas, how they evolved and were refined, and ultimately, the brochure in which the ad was printed. We spoke with an account planner who demonstrated some of the workshop activities she completes with clients to help them identify the personalities of different brands. The account supervisor with whom we talked invited us to a kickoff meeting with her team. At the end of our first day, we attended one of the company’s monthly “birthday and new hire” parties at which cake was served and a raffle was held while employees socialized.

From account services to the medical and creative departments, I have a much better sense of what is involved in health-related marketing communications and the wide range of skills that successful companies in this industry must draw upon. In addition, I have a much clearer understanding of all that a marketing campaign launch entails. This is certainly a career path that anyone interested in communications should consider. Seeing the employees’ enthusiasm for the work that they do and learning about the substantial employee benefits (including tuition reimbursement for continuing education), the community spirit fostered among employees through birthday and new-hire parties, and the pro bono campaigns the company conducts to advance such causes as veterans’ health care, Havas Life Metro certainly seems like a very welcoming place to work.

I would recommend the Princeternship program to other Princeton students because it offers an opportunity to develop deep personal insight into potential career paths with which students may be unfamiliar. I would recommend a Princeternship at Havas Life Metro because the company goes out of its way to make the Princeterns’ experience the best it can be and to provide them with a wealth of information about the health-related marketing communications industry and their particular company.

Matthew Daigger ’17, AppNexus

Matthew-DaiggerWhen I was making my way through Manhattan from Penn Station at 9:00 in the morning, I was not sure what to expect from AppNexus. Prior to this experience I thought tech start-ups were just small companies with not that many employees and not too big of an office. When I got off of the elevator and entered the AppNexus office, I was thoroughly impressed. I was faced with a welcome desk and seating area with glass doors leading to the work area. Through those doors I could see a wide open room filled with tables with people’s computers and work on them. I was surprised by the openness of the room, but then again, AppNexus doesn’t believe in isolated work or cubicles. I was also greeted with a very familiar shade of orange on many of the walls and furniture.

I started my day by meeting my host, Tommi Hurme ’08. I was given a tour around the office and introduced to some of his coworkers. I then got an overview explaining what the company actually does. I learned that AppNexus deals with both ends of online advertising. I was told that AppNexus essentially holds auctions that take place in milliseconds to determine what ads show up on what webpages, using contextual and browsing history data. I then was able to sit in on a Sales Team meeting. It was very interesting to see how the team collaborated and figured out steps that needed to be taken to progress forwards. On the second day, I was able to attend a Product Team meeting. During this meeting, eight of the team members reported to everyone in the conference room on what they had been working on that week and how much progress they had made. It was really interesting to hear some of the things that they actually did on a daily basis. It was also cool to be able to see a young company growing as some of the projects were near completion or completed.

I also had a chance to meet with a few other Princeton alums. First I met with Michael, a member of the Products Team. He described to me the daily functions of his position and some of the stuff he was currently working on. He also explained how the interface that all employees and clients worked on was operated. I also met with a recent graduate who worked on the more technical side. We discussed what it was like working at AppNexus and some of what he did for the company. I found it very interesting how comfortable he felt at the office, having only been there a few months. I also met with quite a few other Princetonians who all gave me the same impression that AppNexus was an innovative company and a great place to work.

I really appreciated everyone taking time out of their day to give me a better understanding of what AppNexus does and what each of their roles were within the company. I think one of the best things about AppNexus was just how friendly and open to collaboration all of the employees were. Thanks to everyone involved for helping me make the most of the two days I spent at AppNexus.

Peter Bransfield ’15, Palace of Auburn Hills

Peter-BransfieldAs a diehard basketball fan and someone who hopes to one day have a career in the sports world, it was a dream come true for me to spend three days at the Palace of Auburn Hills shadowing Lauren Miller ’03, Senior Director of Marketing for Palace Sports & Entertainment, a company comprised of the Detroit Pistons NBA franchise, The Palace of Auburn Hills arena, DTE Energy Music Theatre, and the Meadow Brook Music Festival. While I spent most of my time with the PS&E Marketing team, I was also lucky enough to meet and talk with professionals in the areas of Ticket Sales, Human Resources, Brand Networks, and Fan Experience, among others.  It was truly an all-encompassing look at the inner workings of a sports franchise, and I got a real sense of how all these departments work together to create and sustain everything that happens off of the court.

I learned right away just howBransfield 4 fast-paced a career in the sports and entertainment industry can be, as I spent the entire first day in and out of meetings on subjects that included social media presence, sponsorship events, and branding for premium stadium clubs.  This first day gave me a true sense of how every little aspect of what we see in the stadium on game day is calculated, and that there is so much that goes into putting on every single game that as a fan I have taken for granted.

Over the next two days, I met with a number of different professionals in other departments of the company and learn how they operate.  I observed the Pistons’ and DTE’s social media accounts, sat in on ticketing sales calls, and learned about the audio and video equipment used during games.  Lauren and other employees gave me numerous tours of the arena, and as someone who has watched the NBA for his whole life it was surreal to be able to walk freely through the tunnels and on the stadium floor that are home to the Detroit Pistons.

What I most enjoyed about my brief time at Palace Sports & Entertainment was the company environment.  I kept thinking to myself that everyone who worked there was so lucky to be able to go to an NBA arena to work every day, and I got the sense that many of the employees shared my same feelings.  Mike Donnay, who is the Senior Bransfield 3Director of Brand Networks, told me that he was a Pistons season ticket holder before working at the Palace, and it was clear that many of the other employees shared a passion for sports and entertainment and truly loved what they were doing.  There also seemed to be a true caring for the well-being and advancement of employees within the company.  Especially in Ticket Sales, there was a real emphasis on taking care of employees and helping them to work their way up through the company and achieve their goals.  In such a competitive industry, it was reassuring to see an organization that truly wants to promote the success of the people they hire.

All in all, my biggest takeaway from the experience was that I really do want to pursue a career in the sports world.  As I walked around the arena every day it almost seemed too good to be true.  I can’t imagine coming to an arena like the Palace every day and not enjoying my job.  I owe a lot to Lauren and to the Princeternship program for giving me this opportunity, as it gave me an actual taste of what it would be like to work in professional sports.  Until now, it was only something I had imagined, and with these new experiences to build on I feel that I can truly go forward and pursue a sports career.

Peter Yao ’16, Havas Life

During the first morning at Havas Life we met Jessica Wey ‘07, our host for the Princeternship. She gave us a bird’s eye view of the workflow and structure behind a pharmaceutical advertising agency. The roles most visible in the final advertising product are copywriting and art. Copywriters write the words. Artists design the graphics. Together, they form the creative department. Invisible in the product but no less integral is account management, which acts as the liaison between the agency and the client. The Princeternship was structured as a series of informal and personal meetings with the various departments in the agency.

The first day we met with representatives from copywriting, account management, and art. The copywriters started by asking us a question: what brand of toothpaste do you use? We answered Colgate across the board. When asked why, I answered that was what my dentist put in the goodie bag while my fellow Princeterns cited familial use and dental benefits. The copywriter smiled. Knowingly or not we had all bought in to some aspect of advertising whether it be heritage, dental benefits, or brand image. It was these benefits and feelings and images that copywriters sought to infuse into their words. The words could serve as a scaffold for the brand to build off of and expand on in its other products. Next, we met the team from account management, who explained that to them every day is a people person day. Account is charged with effectively relaying the client’s intention and vision to the creative team while also transmitting creative’s input to the client. Furthermore, the message must be accurate and engaging so that both the client’s vision and the creative team’s vision can be welded into a product. We also had the lucky opportunity to attend a project kickoff, which was one of my favorite moments because I got to see how all the sectors of agency we had been learning about worked together. Lastly, we met with an artist who walked us through the design process from start to finish for a recent ad for Mission Gratitude, an initiative that provides support to returning war veterans. The CBI (Creative Business Idea) or Promise for that project was “connected to the fighter in you” an acknowledgement that, though we may never fully understand, we can still lend a hand for support. She led us from the initial kickoff to the tissues or drafts for the ad to the end product, which featured an array of green toy soldiers in the background with a human soldier emerging from his green plastic mold in the foreground. It was nothing short of stunning.

The second day we met with another passionate and friendly set of representatives from medical, editorial, account planning, and management. The medical directors are the scientific core of agency and research extensively to ensure that the team’s foundational knowledge of a drug and its mechanism are accurate. Editorial eases the product into its final form and closely works with the team at all stages on correcting, distilling, and organizing the material. The account planner carefully considers the consumer base and constantly feeds trends and expectations on the consumer side into the advertising process. The managers are the visionaries for the company. They keep all staff in tune with the mission statement of the agency.

I had a wonderful time at Havas. I would like to thank Jessica and all the staff for sharing what they do with us. Now every time I look at an ad, I feel the curiosity well up, and I want to break it down, find the metaphor, and distill the emotions I feel. I gained a newfound appreciation for the people and the creative energy behind advertising and discovered the mesh of science, literature, and art that makes pharmaceutical advertising so appealing.

Elizabeth Ostertag ’16, World 50

Liz-OstertagParticipating in the World 50 Incorporated Princeternship was a valuable experience that gave me a unique insight into the world of business. Based in Atlanta, Georgia, World 50 is a small organization that consists of approximately seven hundred executives around the world. As my host, Katelyn Perry ‘13, a member of the Intellectual Property team of the organization so aptly stated, World 50 is, in a sense, a type of “secret fraternity” for executives. There is very little information published on the organization online and in the news, and, thus, succeeds as a means of communication and collaboration for its members. With different groups inside the organization (several of which are General Counsel 50, Marketing 50, and Corporate 50), the members are provided with services from the World 50 employees in each department for their specific needs. World 50 provides an open environment of communication and collaboration for its members, as well as services such as summit events, conference dinners, and smaller, more intimate, means of communication. The exclusivity of the organization fosters an ideal environment for important figures in business and other companies worldwide.

The first day of my Princeternship, I was exposed to some of the day-to-day occurrences at the company, including recruiting phone calls for potential members, planning for the spring Summit event, as well as the creativity of the Intellectual Property team. My second day, I was fortunate enough to be present during the company’s annual Hack-A-Thon, an event during which the members collaborated on ideas in creative ways, such as skits, performances, and artistic creations. I absolutely loved my Princeternship experience at World 50, and am grateful to my host, Katelyn Perry ’13, for providing me with such a unique opportunity.

Lori Bin ’17, Palace of Auburn Hills

Lori-BinPalace of Auburn Hills

While not equipped with turrets and royalty, the Palace of Auburn Hills offers something equally fantastic – the Detroit Pistons basketball team and shows from today’s most popular music artists. Having been to the Palace multiple times, I was excited to see the departments and work that go into sculpting the Palace’s amazing fan experience. I am also considering marketing as a career path and have dabbled in the nonprofit sector, but I knew the sports and entertainment industry would add an entirely new dimension. When the Palace’s marketing senior director, Lauren Miller ’03, offered a Princeternship that would allow me to explore this industry, I jumped at the opportunity.

Day 1

My fellow Princetern, Peter Bransfield ’15, and I first received a tour of the facilities by Lauren. From then on, it was a day full of meetings – six to be exact. Although Peter and I had little context in the situations, numbers, and companies that were discussed, we were able to pick up the data analysis and strategies they used to improve fan experience and effective outreach. When focusing on the topic of greater newsletter efficiency, they found the average reader only clicks on 1.2 links out of many per email – meaning the reader clicks on the first thing that peaks their interest and does not return to the newsletter. Their solution: use less links, and only include the most important content. Their discussions were sharp, collaborative, and interesting to listen to, despite our sometimes limited understanding.

Day 2

Seeking to make our experience as extensive as possible, Lauren dropped us off at multiple departments, where the respective teams generously spent time showing us their work and answering our questions. Peter and I first visited Kenny, who works with live entertainment and branding. He allowed us access into the lighting and sound booths of the arena and Brett, who we walked in on, explained how details like location of the venue, time into the game, and score can dictate which songs and media are projected. Our tour continued with Lauren showing us the VIP clubs of the venue, ranging from more casual experiences like Club West to the very exclusive Courtside Club, located at the floor level with a posh, intimate interior. We were even able to snap a photo sitting where the postgame interviews are held! Next we attended a meeting about how to add value to and increase membership of Palace Affinity Clubs, and concluded by talking with Ashley, a social media manager who spoke with us about analysis of Facebook and Twitter activity.

Day 3     

On our final day, Peter and I Bin 2observed the work of even more groups at the Palace. We began with inside sales, where Natalie, Joe, and the intern Alex told us about the department and allowed us to observe ticket sales calls being made by some of the team. Later, Barry and Chase took us from the depths of the editing and production studios to the heights of the arena – all the way up in the catwalks, where even the nosebleed seats appeared terrifyingly far below us. Human resources representatives Brandon and Ryan explained more of employee structure at the Palace and which qualities one needs in order to perform well. Lastly, Natalya explained her work with public relations and her career trajectory thus far.

My experience at the Palace was diverse, dynamic, and most of all, educational. Although I am unsure if the sports and entertainment industry is for me, I am glad to have broadened my knowledge of the marketing sector and am so grateful to have had as considerate of a host as Lauren. In addition to her and the others mentioned in this post, thank you to Nick, Andy, Harlan, Charlie, Jim, Dave, Liz, Erica, Sara, Alicia, and everyone else who spoke with me and Peter and made us feel welcome! It was a great three days!

Lori Bin ’17, Detroit Venture Partners

Lori-BinI first entered 1555 Broadway St. with little to no knowledge of venture capital – I applied for this Princeternship primarily out of admiration for the company’s mission (revitalizing Detroit’s economy), interest in their diverse portfolio of start-up companies, and enthusiasm to learn something new. While I still cannot boast a vast repertoire of venture capital expertise, the basics I learned and brief research I conducted have certainly peaked my interest.

Day 1

My host, Eleanor Meegoda ’12, works with the Detroit Venture Partners as an analyst, alongside a team of other bright, determined people. She first gave me an in-depth explanation of DVP’s evaluations of start-ups’ business models, trustworthiness, valuation, etc. before investing in them. Once DVP invests in a company, it moves in with them so DVP can offer more support. About 70% of their portfolio companies reside in Detroit – luckily for me, as I was able to meet the teams of the companies situated nearby.

Lunch that day included a meeting about a summer event DVP will be holding, where companies can pitch their businesses to potential investors. After lunch, I visited Ginkgotree (a company I had met with earlier) to test their product with user experience director Justin Mulwee and data architect Lou Alicegary. Aiming to decrease dependency on textbooks, Ginkgotree is a website that allows instructors to compile videos, readings, and other course materials in one place, which students can access by paying for copyright fees at a smaller cost than physical books. I pointed out areas with small bugs and then spoke with both of them about the benefits and challenges of start-up companies.

Next I met with Alex Persky-Stern Bin 1and Clare O’Brien at Stik, a data analyst and marketing manager respectively. Alex told me more about Stik, a company that combines the trustworthiness of word-of-mouth referrals of professional services with the broad outreach of social media. Clare described her career trajectory and her daily routine. At both start-ups, the zeal and motivation to improve were impressive. As part of a small team, individuals know their contributions will have an impact and work all the harder because of it.

Day 2

I conducted two short projects. Eleanor showed me, a website where start-up companies can connect to investors, and had me find Midwest start-ups (with a focus on Detroit) that DVP may be interested in investing in. Afterwards, analyst Jim Xiao introduced me to the For Sale by Owner market of selling houses and asked me to research how competitors compare with the free website service Homevana. I looked at unique packages each website offered to sellers, across-the-board services, and patterns I could find.

This day’s lunch-and-learn was with a speaker from Global Detroit. In the short time we had, we were only able to skim the surface of the issues plaguing Detroit and their causations. However, he did present some interesting statistics and ideas on the potential for immigrant population growth to help revitalize Detroit’s economy by increasing innovation, jobs, and global connections.

I finished my time with DVP by compiling my research for Jim in an Excel spreadsheet and receiving a Detroit Venture Partners Rubik’s Cube. I would like to thank Eleanor, the entire DVP team, the start-ups I met with, and my friendly parking attendant for being so welcoming and helpful. I had a wonderful experience and learned so much! Not only did I greatly enjoy the dynamic and fast-paced aspects of the start-up culture, but there were also free smoothies and popcorn available every day. This is definitely something I could get used to.

Shubham Chattopadhyay ’17, Havas Life

When I and fellow Princetern Cordelia Xie ’16 arrived at the Havas Agency office on Madison Avenue, New York City, we were not greeted with a stern reception desk, but instead a warm welcome from Lorraine Forster, Vice President of Human Resources, complete with bagels and orange juice. Though a seemingly trivial detail, it was reflective of the overall reception we received throughout our Princeternship; a feeling of warmth and appreciation was present for every member in the Havas community. Ms. Forster introduced the overall corporate structure of Havas, an umbrella advertising agency in which we would be exposed to the specific division of Havas Health, which specialized in healthcare advertising.

Over the next few days, we met with the various teams involved in the advertising process, and by the end of our three days we had gained a basic understanding of the complex creation of a seemingly “simple” promotion. Healthcare professionals approach advertising agencies such as Havas with a specific drug or product, after which Havas creates a “pitch,” a presentation to convince the pharmaceutical firm that Havas should be responsible for marketing the drug. If successful, the client will then meet with a strategy team – nicknamed “Strat Farm” at Havas – whose responsibilities include repositioning brands as well as educating audiences about both the product and the issues it raises. One remarkable aspect the strategy team discussed was the need to remember the audience and engage with them on a cultural level; for global brand campaigns, difference concept designs are used for the same product in different countries.

Though I found the work of the strategy team to be fascinating, I learned that their established foundation for a campaign came as a result ofthe partnershipswith the account, creative, and copy teams. While the account team functions as a liaison between the clients and the creative team, the copywriters and art directors create the actual graphics and text of the ad. I was surprised to find out that, unlike consumer advertising, healthcare advertising is much more nuanced and restrained, due to both FDA parameters and the sensitive content displayed. The editorial team has the final say before the final production of the advertisement.  Since Havas develops drug promotions for pharmaceutical companies, a medical strategy team works with the marketing team of the client to inform the tone of the advertisement. Perhaps what astonished me most was the almost fastidious wording of healthcare promotions.  For example, words such as “superior” needed to be exchanged for “enhanced” when describing a product, due to the subtly different connotations each word retained. Finally, project leaders maintain the schedule and finances of each project involved in a brand campaign.

By the end of my Princeternship, I had a newfound appreciation for the complexity involved in advertising, as each team we were introduced to played an integral role in the promotion process. But there are three highlights of my experience at Havas which deserve particular attention.

Undoubtedly, the highlight of my first day revolved around my introduction to User Experience, a platform through which websites, applications, and other digital frameworks can be created to advertising materials. Joseph Grgic, User Experience Architect, demonstrated the cognitive psychology he uses to design websites; interfaces are created to meet with the psychological limits of humans, and a compromise is always struck between design and usability. Though his “wire frame” layout becomes the blue print for any digital application, he explained that true design is rooted in psychology and information architecture (the art of organizing information most effectively for the user). It was fascinating to learn about both the psychology of design and its implementation in the digital media.

On our first day, Cordelia and I also met with Christine D’Appolonia, Managing Director, who discussed various aspects of the advertising process. For one, she explained that one of Havas Health’s primary responsibilities is to create material endorsing specific pharmaceutical products that could then be used by the corresponding client representatives to market those drugs to physicians. Furthermore, she was quick to delineate between consumer and healthcare advertising.  I had no idea that, due to the limited number of products on the market, medical advertising is much more competitive than its consumer counterpart, and that medical ads are expected to comply with FDA regulations to advocate transparency to the patient. It was clear from Christine’s energy and insight that the business of medical advertising is an exciting one, partly due to the constant shifts in medicine and healthcare reform – a fact that, in turn, fascinated me about the industry.

My wonderful experience at Havas would not have been possible without my gracious host Jessica Wey ’07, Associate Creative Director, who not only introduced me and Cordelia to the world of advertising, but whose mentorship and guidance were invaluable throughout. Jessica stressed that healthcare advertising cultivates a unique skill set since it requires a blend of communication, writing, and scientific knowledge. She was also kind enough to present some of her own advertising projects. Looking at our host’s previous work shed new light onto the science – or perhaps even art – of advertising. Most importantly, Jessica showed us how to connect with an audience on a human level despite working with products that could only be described in scientific, technical terms.

During my Princeternship, I enjoyed the fun yet focused environment at Havas. I especially liked the open set-up established for the office, which fostered both creativity and collaboration among its employees. Though the tone of the office space was relaxed, the atmosphere in Havas was fast-paced and energetic, reflective of the dynamic industry of healthcare advertising.

As a biological engineer with a potential interest in finance, I came into the Princeternship hoping to understand more about the “softer side” of product development; while I knew my concentration would prepare me for the technical aspects of manufacturing, I wanted to learn the steps needed to take a manufactured good into the final, marketable stage. Discovering more about the advertising process was a perfect gateway to the business aspect of development, and the Princeternship at Havas Life certainly fulfilled those goals and more. Many thanks to Jessica, Lorraine Forster (who kindly arranged all logistics of the Princeternship), all those at Havas, and the Office of Career Services for providing this fantastic opportunity!

Paco Avila ’16, AppNexus

As I rode the train into New York City with my fellow Princeterns, I was excited for the day to come and unsure of what to expect.  After a quick subway ride from Penn Station, we had already arrived at AppNexus.  We passed though the glass doors and entered the lobby, and the orange and black color scheme made Princeton’s presence immediately apparent.  We were greeted by the University Recruiters, Stephanie Manning and Dale Levine, who then brought us on a tour of the office.  After only a few minutes, I could tell that AppNexus is an amazing place to work.  Paco Avila AppNexus Princeton AlumnThe entire office incorporates glass doors and lots of open space to ensure that it is a highly collaborative and comfortable workspace.  There are numerous kitchens filled with great snacks, high quality espresso makers, and even orange and black mugs.  AppNexus also has many quirky features that make it fun and exciting.  Rather than organizing their conference rooms by room number, AppNexus names their rooms after video games, famous scientists, and fictional characters.  Nearly every wall in the office also doubles as a white board, featuring anything from intricate charts to fun doodles.  After walking past the couch that the AppNexus founders sat on when they first thought of the idea for the company, we met in “Einstein,” where we received a crash course on AppNexus and the online advertising industry.  Zach Kwartler ‘11 got us up to speed on how AppNexus facilitates high-speed ad space bidding and handles terabytes of data daily, and then we split off into our first shadowing shifts of the day.

During my first shift, I shadowed Peter Yu ’13, a recent Princeton grad and a member of the DevOps team.  For the following hour, I watched as Peter helped his group build the foundation of AppNexus’ applications, which is an immense task requiring several different levels of coding teams.  Afterwards, we had lunch with the AppNexus Princeton alumni in “Battleship” where we met co-founder Brian O’Kelly ‘99, ate catered food with AppNexus’ own hot sauce, and laughed about all the Princeton antics that have taken place during our collective years as undergrads.  After lunch I got a chance to shadow Richard Andrews and Rob Hazan, two members of the AppNexus Global Services team.  During my final hours at AppNexus, I sat in on a phone meeting with AppNexians across the U.S., and then discussed with Richard and Rob their roles working with various big company clients.

Although my day at AppNexus was brief, it was an eye opening experience that gave me a glimpse into the workings of an amazing tech company.  AppNexus is a truly special place with a strong Princeton presence on top of that.  This opportunity was unforgettable, and I am extremely thankful for everyone who made it possible.