My 10 weeks as a W2O Group intern have been a whirlwind.
I came in on my first day bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, ready to work and fetch an occasional coffee. Now, in my final week, I am slightly less bright-eyed and bushy-tailed (the pace of life in NYC takes a toll), but I have gained invaluable experience and knowledge about the healthcare communications industry. And the only coffees I fetched were three daily cups for myself from the Keurig in the office kitchen—a Godsend!
While I may still be somewhat “green,” I am no longer a rookie. In addition to the opportunity to get into hands-on account work, I have learned so much by just observing and absorbing. It’s been a privilege to be part of such a talented and hardworking team. It’s what got me out of bed every morning (plus the coffee…).
As is customary when one reaches the end of a chapter, I have reflected upon my experience. Below are a few takeaways from my summer as a WCG Healthcare intern:
1. Don’t wait. Act.
I’m willing to bet that sometime in the near future, W2O Group employees will be tattooed with the “Go. Ahead.” tagline as part of the onboarding process. It’s something people around here truly take to heart. There is no micromanaging or stringent hierarchy in this organization. Employees at all levels of the company are trusted to utilize their knowledge and aptitudes to get the job done. It’s a stark transition from the college environment where assignments and rubrics clearly spell out expectations, and you’re given a grade on all work. Learning how and when to take initiative was among the most beneficial lessons that I came away with. Through my role as a Student Ambassador for W2O Group and Syracuse University’s Center for Social Commerce, I had the opportunity to spearhead promotional projects and define strategy for the Center. It required me to really put on my thinking cap and fully leverage my creativity and strategic thinking abilities. I look forward to continuing to build and promote the Center back at Syracuse throughout the fall semester.
2. Data for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
People here live and breathe data. As a PR major and a decisively right-brained thinker, the concept of data was a bit intimidating at first. I looked at the Analytics department as a cryptic and inaccessible Narnia, an impenetrable black hole of memes and muses and blueprints—OH MY! It took several Lunch & Learn sessions and some time spent digging through the public server, but I did reach a point of enlightenment about what this whole data thing is all about. Turns out it’s actually not all that perplexing. Backing up decisions with hard data is a crucial step in any campaign. The depth and breadth of data that W2O Group’s analytics team can uncover—from key influencers, to conversation sentiment and countless other metrics— truly amazes me. I hope to further explore applications of analytics within the communications industry and share insights with peers and professors at school.
3. Teamwork makes the dream work.
Despite the multitude of companies and departments within this agency, I was impressed by the ongoing collaboration and camaraderie between people in different practice areas, and even between W2O Group’s offices throughout the U.S. and in London. Merging diverse aptitudes and perspectives adds value for clients and creates a strong and supportive network. Taking on the role of Project Manager for our intern app prototype assignment allowed me to flex my leadership muscles and learn from a talented team of peers with varied backgrounds and interests, and our final product was a reflection of stellar teamwork. In the professional world, every project is a group project, so learning to efficiently manage and contribute to the collaboration process is an essential skill.
4. Ask smart questions.
Regardless of your title or years of experience, asking intelligent questions shows that you are engaged and thoughtful. I learned so much from the Associates in my “row” (p.s.: Big shoutout to my row in NY—the best row—you know who you are), who were always willing to provide guidance or take time to explain the alphabet soup of business jargon. I’m proud to say I can now confidently use SOW, KOL, RFP, EOD, and UX in casual conversation like a seasoned pro. You can bet I’ll be adding that to my resume. If the people around you can’t answer your question, a five-minute Google search probably can. I’ve found that it is always better to ask specific questions about an assignment upfront instead of attempting to decipher excessive ambiguity. It saves a lot of frustration for all parties involved. During workshops and Lunch & Learns, I always proposed questions to the presenters. People have valuable insight to share, and I take every opportunity to learn from their advice and experience.
In summary, I’ve come away with a sharpened business acumen, improved communications skills, and a fuller understanding of life at an agency this summer. A sincere thank you to those of you whom I’ve had the chance to work with throughout my internship. Although part of me is dreading that whole “Real Life” thing that’s just around the corner, my experience here makes me a little less scared about what lies ahead.
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