Two students earn spots in highly competitive national internship program

Jillian Beitter, left, and Lauren Dempsey were two of 15 students from across the country selected for the competitive internship program sponsored by the American Advertising Federation this summer. Credit: Photos ProvidedAll Rights Reserved.

(Editor's Note: This is the fifth in a series of articles about students in the Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications completing summer internships.)

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Some students come to Penn State with a major in mind and a fairly firm plan for life during (and even after) college, while others arrive less certain, hoping to discover campus and eventually find their career path.

No matter the approach, there’s a route to success, and two advertising/public relations majors are taking steps on their paths this summer with internships in New York City as part of a selective national program.

Rising seniors Jillian Beitter and Lauren Dempsey earned positions with Giant Spoon and Decoded Advertising, respectively, through the American Advertising Federation’s Vance and Betty Lee Stickell Internship Program. Just 15 students from across the country are part of the program this summer.

Beitter, a media intern with Giant Spoon, has been working on campaigns for MassMutual Insurance. Her internship focuses on media buying, and she’s helping to shape the company’s media strategy, and visibility, in the third and fourth quarters of this year.

“They just integrated me into the team right away,” Beitter said. “It’s so interesting to be a part of a real-life opportunity and something tangible. It’s been a wonderful experience.”

Jillian Beitter, a media intern with Giant Spoon in New York City, has been working on campaigns for MassMutual Insurance. Her internship focuses on media buying. Credit: Photo ProvidedAll Rights Reserved.

Beitter was undecided on her major when she arrived at Penn State. Her classes, on-campus clubs and organizations, and internships have helped solidify her plan. Last year, she completed an internship with a company in Dublin, Ireland, focusing on search engine optimization and marketing.

Beitter's variety of experiences made her stand out in the application process for the AAF internship program, even though she arrived at Penn State somewhat unsure of what she wanted to do.

“I hop on opportunities when I see them,” Beitter said. “It’s related to an Alex Rodriguez quote I like: ‘Start with yes, and figure out the rest.’”

Dempsey picked Penn State with a solid academic plan in mind and has found success with a similarly proactive approach. She will have completed three minors in addition to her degree by graduation. Her mother is a marketing teacher and, after years of sitting in on her classes and hearing about the field, she was certain her career would be in advertising or marketing.

She is working as a cross-function intern in digital media for Decoded this summer, and the company’s flexible, intern-friendly approach has enabled her to learn about many aspects of the organization.

“Whether it’s been branding, creative or anything along those lines, they’ve been extremely supportive of me learning more about the company and the industry,” said Dempsey, who works on accounts for Stuart Wietzman, Tommy John, Visa, Weight Watchers and even Penn State. “I have really enjoyed getting to learn the ins and the outs of the industry firsthand and seeing all the aspects involved in working with our clients. My internship has been a great place for me to practice what I have learned in the classroom and apply it, as well as being a fantastic resource that has allowed me to make the most of my time at Penn State.”

Lauren Dempsey is working as a cross-function intern in digital media for Decoded, the New York City agency whose clients include Stuart Wietzman, Tommy John, Visa, Weight Watchers and Penn State.  Credit: Photo ProvidedAll Rights Reserved.

Although Dempsey had the major in mind when applying to schools, it was when her father brought her and a friend to campus for a football game after a high school cross-country meet that she knew her second home would be in Happy Valley.

“I remember crossing the finish line in my race and then immediately driving out for the game,” she said. “I knew it was the right place for me. The atmosphere, community, resources and support make Penn State what it is to me.”

Beitter will serve as president of the Ad/PR Club during the 2019-20 academic year when she returns to campus in the fall. Dempsey will be the club’s alumni relations chair and serves as a student representative to the Bellisario College Ad/PR Alumni Board. Both students have thrived at Penn State with a proactive approach to campus life, from clubs and family connections to intramurals.

Beitter’s cousin, Evan Rooney, will be a senior telecommunications major in the fall. He helped introduce her to Penn State.

She and Dempsey have complemented their majors with a growing and important minor offered by the Bellisario College, digital media trends and analytics. They believe the skills necessary to complete the minor will be important when they begin their careers.

Dempsey plans to travel some once her internship ends and before the fall semester begins. When she returns to campus in the fall, she has some other goals in mind — including securing a third consecutive IM basketball championship and attending as many varsity sporting events as possible.

“There’s just so much to do on campus,” she said. “An internship helps me understand what I might want to do, or not want to do, professionally, and I just want to make the most of it.”

Last Updated June 26, 2019