This is the 15th in a series of articles about summer internships for students in the Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications.
After proving themselves on campus, two Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications students earned the opportunity to prove themselves on the big stage in the Big Apple this summer.
Seniors Anna James and Emma Matthys completed internships in New York City through the Vance and Betty Lee Stickell Student Internship Program, which is jointly sponsored by the American Advertising Federation and The University of Texas at Austin Stan Richards School of Advertising & Public Relations.
James and Matthys, nominated by Ken Yednock, a senior lecturer of advertising/public relations, were among 16 students from across the country selected for the program. Penn State joined Illinois as the only schools with multiple students in the program, each with two.
“Going to a big school like Penn State, I feel like you don’t always expect to have professors that reach out to you and notice you,” said Matthys. “So, the fact that Ken even thought to nominate me meant so much. I feel like I have gotten so much out of the Penn State experience. I feel so honored, personally.”
The program places students in 10-week paid summer internships with media organizations, advertising agencies, and client and supplier companies. James spent the summer as a copywriting intern at The Bloc, an advertising agency, while Matthys served as a corporate advertising intern at IBM.
For James, it was the “ultimate creative challenge.” The Bloc mostly does health and wellness work, which consists of a good deal of pharmaceutical advertising with some big clients. The challenging, and fun, part for James was learning the pharmaceutical industry, including language, abbreviations, pronunciations and regulations.
“It’s a lot of out-of-the-box thinking and really trying to find creativity in ways that you might not expect to find,” said James. “Obviously, a pharmaceutical commercial is very different from an Apple product commercial. You have to find messages that really resonate where people can relate to them and you’re really trying to help people.”
Matthys, president of the AdClub at Penn State, had the similar challenge of learning the brand at IBM, and enjoyed being on the client side of business. Her internship last summer was with an agency.
“I always used to think that I was set on working in an agency environment, but this summer has swayed me a little bit and I am now considering client side as a serious option,” said Matthys. “The areas that interest me mostly revolve around strategy. I love finding connections and ways that everything can fit together and make sense.”
Both worked 40-hour weeks, and in their spare time they explored New York City. They visited different parts of the city, including parks and restaurants.
Matthys spent last summer in New York City at Protagonist LLC, an advertising agency, serving as an account management intern. For James, she visited the city a few times a year since her hometown of Scranton, Pennsylvania, was only about two and a half hours away, but this is the first time she has called it “home.”
“I have this personal challenge that I’m trying to do something new every day,” said James. “That’s helping me to really push out of my comfort zone and make sure that I’m taking advantage of everything that living in New York City has to offer.”
For each of them, the future goal is to land a job in advertising. While the specific “dream job” isn’t pinned down yet, they have certainly laid a solid foundation for starting their careers.
“In the end, I don't just want a desk job, I want to be thinking and creating and strategizing in a way that makes every day different and exciting,” said Matthys. “This summer has been awesome because it has definitely given me a taste of that. Usually when I get to the office in the morning I never know where I will end up that day."
“I want to be in New York at a large advertising agency and working on either copywriting or strategy,” said James. “I have looked up to so many great agencies and admired their work for years while studying advertising--to one day step foot into that office and create work that inspires other people, that would be the end goal for sure.”