As an account services intern at Fraser Communications, I have had the opportunity to witness key learnings from my marketing classes in action. I look back on the times when my advertising professor constantly reminded us, “Research informs strategy, strategy guides creative,” and realized the accuracy of his statement upon completing my internship. Advertising is more than pushing flashy images in consumers’ faces to drive sales growth – it is about understanding your client, understanding their target audience, and strategizing with different teams to reach the client’s goals, to create real impact. Fraser adds another element of purpose through its focus on developing strategies to encourage positive behavior change.
At Fraser, I spent time working on research projects for clients like the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health (LADPH) and Banfield Pet Hospital. During my first week, I took on the responsibility of contributing to an end-of-year report for LADPH’s anti-tobacco campaign. While this task seemed somewhat daunting to me as a new intern, I learned to view it as an opportunity for applying my theoretical knowledge of marketing to a real-world scenario. I even recognized the value of my insights, not only because of my role with Fraser but also because of my role as a potential member of LADPH’s target audience. Being a Gen Z intern at an established agency meant that my contributions reflected what coming-of-age consumers might want. Fraser listened to my recommendations, and I was happy to see that my input made it into the final report.
I also spent much of my time at Fraser conducting a competitive analysis for Banfield Pet Hospital, initially focusing on pet insurance and writing about dynamics within the pet wellness category. I realized that my research was crucial in helping Banfield develop a strategy to improve its brand positioning and target younger consumers like me. After all, research informs strategy, and strategy guides creative.
In addition to research, I completed fun projects, like crafting brand personas for a new business proposal. What made this project especially compelling was that it fully encapsulated my professor’s mantra; I researched the different purposes of community college, connected those purposes to personas representing the campaign’s target audience, referenced strategies for informing the target audience about the benefits of community college, and provided copy and visuals that served as starting points for our creative strategy. This opportunity piqued my interest because it pushed me to tap into my storytelling skills and think creatively about connecting a community college education to human needs.
If I could describe my internship with one word, it would be multifaceted. I not only helped the agency close an account and contributed towards opening a new one, but I also did all of that (and more) remotely from home. One of the main challenges of working from home is developing interpersonal relationships with people whom I regularly correspond with. However, the Fraser team accepted me with open arms and made time to speak with me regularly and whenever I wanted to learn about new opportunities in each department. Their kindness, creativity, and diligence are what make Fraser great. Of course, I cannot compliment the Fraser team without acknowledging Renee and her business acumen. She prides herself in using an open-minded approach when adding people to her team, so I had the opportunity to learn from people who started off as artists, social workers, and even actors. Unlike other executives at ad agencies, Renee does not prioritize years of experience during the hiring process; rather, she looks at candidates holistically and focuses on how their life experiences, skillset, and expertise will bring real value to Fraser’s team, to their clients, and to the communities they work with. As people become more critical of the job market’s heavy emphasis on experience – even for entry-level roles – hopefully, decision makers can learn a thing or two from Renee.
I also developed deep respect for my supervisors, Sheyla and Danielle, along with other accounts services team members who have the challenging responsibility of acting as the clients’ eyes and ears while strategizing with the creative and media teams. Given that account services liaise between clients and several departments, they experience a different type of responsibility in that they must communicate clearly and effectively between groups. Such communication ensures everything flows smoothly so that campaigns are executed successfully. The account services team is responsible for collaborating with departments to develop strategies that align with the clients’ goals. On top of that, they must anticipate concerns and communicate those concerns with clients and other departments. For these reasons, it is crucial that account services members are detail-oriented, empathetic, and resilient. I recognized these traits in Sheyla and Danielle, who regularly led meetings with clients and the creative and media teams. They demonstrated a willingness to address potential shortcomings in meetings and provided innovative ideas and solutions. They showed poise while fielding incoming client feedback and also managing multiple projects. These women inspire me to face challenges in a similar manner because in several industries, compelling ideas come from different sides of a business. I am glad I had the opportunity to sit in on these team discussions with clients and across departments to get insights into how Account Services and the campaign planning process works.
I also had the opportunity to conduct one-on-one interviews with department leaders. In these conversations, I asked them about their experience working in advertising and invited them to share tips for anyone interested in pursuing a career in advertising.
Here are my 5 takeaways from those meetings with Fraser’s team members:
- Be vocal about your personal goals and interests even if it’s in another department. It may open new opportunities. By speaking up about what my personal interests were, the Fraser team gave me an opportunity to work across departments and on diverse projects.
- Be open to new opportunities and working with people from all backgrounds. Renee’s approach to new hires has created the diverse team that Fraser is today. The Fraser team, along with the accounts they work on, are diverse.
- The devil is in the details. Even when something seems like a simple task, it is imperative to pay attention to all details no matter how miniscule they may seem. Perhaps it is minor feedback from the client or double-checking the creative to make sure there are no mistakes. These small details differentiate bad campaigns from excellent ones.
- Advertising is always evolving, adapting, and refreshing. With new technology and with the rise of popularity of new social media platforms, advertising executives have to keep learning, continue monitoring trends, be flexible, and show a willingness to adapt.
- Communication is key. A recurring theme at Fraser is that team members are always communicating with each other and their clients and working closely together to make sure everyone is aligned.
As my time at Fraser draws to a close, I hope to apply key learnings from my internship to my future career just as I applied key learnings from class to this internship. I’m fortunate to have learned from experienced advertising professionals and am thankful that Renee, Sheyla, and Danielle enthusiastically took a chance on me, a young grad student from Mississippi just trying to figure things out. And while I continue to figure things out, I will venture into the unknown with a stronger sense of purpose, just like any Fraser team member would.