Q&A with P2P alumna, Sophie, on her summer in London
Earlier this year, EdVenture Partners’ Peer to Peer (P2P) program alumni were given an exclusive, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to apply for a summer internship at M&C Saatchi London, which prides itself on being the biggest independent creative agency network in the world.
“M&C Saatchi was delighted to welcome two alumni from P2P to our team last summer,” said Alex Guittard, Director of Governance at M&C Saatchi London. “Sophie and Gintville contributed significantly to our work fighting against extremism and hate around the world. We share EdVenture Partners’ belief that young people are the best voices for reaching their peers and look forward to following these promising young people in their careers.”
With the internship complete, EVP sat down with Sophie from IMC Fachhochscule Krems (Austria) for a Q&A to learn about her experience with P2P and the internship.
(1) Please introduce yourself (name, university, major/degree, EVP program, etc.)
My name is Sophie. I study Marketing and Sales at the IMC University of Applied Sciences in a little town called Krems, Austria. I just finished my second semester there, so I still have one year to go.
The program I participated in was Peer to Peer: Facebook Global Digital Challenge. My team had to pick one kind of extremism and tackle it in some way with a digital campaign. We chose bullying because our research showed that bullying in Austria is worse than anywhere else in Europe. We created a campaign called UnKind to target potential bullies and their victims, which has a double meaning: it’s not just “unkind,” it’s also “united in kindness.” So, it had this good and bad aspect to it.
(2) What led you to the M&C Saatchi internship?
When the P2P program finished, I think it was mid-December, my Program Coordinator sent out a job application document from M&C Saatchi and encouraged me to apply. I knew the company from its name, but I searched for the World Services (Department) online because I didn’t know what that was. They have no (information about it on their) website, and I didn’t think that I would get the position. But, I submitted my application anyway.
(3) Briefly summarize your internship (location, dates, responsibilities).
I worked for M&C Saatchi World Services in London for two months, July through September. It’s in Soho, which is probably the best area in London you could ever work because there is so much to do and so much to eat! M&C Saatchi is a very big agency. And, World Services is completely different from traditional advertising because it is mainly issue-based — meaning, that they work with social change, behavior change and a lot of non-government organizations (NGOs). It wasn’t the typical advertising experience, but I didn’t realize that until I got there; because, as I mentioned before, there is no easily accessible information online about what they do there. I worked in the counter-extremism department of World Services, which was very interesting. We worked on strategy and planning. So, we collaborated with the different people in strategy, but also account handling, and basically helped log research and formalized creative briefs. I also visited clients and did some client relationship-building with them and the account handlers.
Basically, it was just the best internship anyone could ever ask for, probably because it was not a traditional advertising experience. I’ve read a lot about advertising internships. And, most of what I read is that interns do not get a lot of responsibilities but do much of the work no one else wants to do, with lots of “coffee runs” included. Because I was not a typical intern, I was not treated like one. I felt I belonged to a team that accepted me as a colleague. It was two months, but it felt like I had been there for a year — which could be a bad thing, but it was actually a good thing. The day I left was very emotional. And, it’s just such a good feeling if you’ve been at a place for two months and really feel like you contributed, even if it’s just a small part.
(4) What is the most surprising thing you learned during your internship?
I was surprised that there were so many people from so many different backgrounds. I don’t think anyone at World Services came from a typical advertising/communications/marketing background. What makes World Services such an impactful and well-performing department is that so many different ideas and people come together to work on stuff, and I think the ego aspect is way lower than in traditional advertising. I didn’t actually think a group of people like this would exist in advertising. Even with all the different people from all the different backgrounds, everyone still worked together so well.
(5) Were there any particularly impactful experiences you had during the internship?
When first I came to World Services, I got this one big project from my supervisor. I researched for that project and had a lot of conversations with people about it for about three weeks, and then I prepared a PowerPoint presentation. I really tried hard to make the presentation perfect. When it came time to give my presentation, a lot of people actually made an effort to come see it, which was very surprising for me because I was an intern. It was such a good experience that people actually appreciated my work, respected me and gave me credit for doing that presentation. I know that my work actually got taken to the client after a few changes — but basically my ‘baby,’ so to speak, was brought to the client, and it was a success. That was probably the most impactful thing because it was right at the beginning of the internship, and I feel like I really accomplished something there and grew from that.
(6) How will your experience at M&C Saatchi impact your career moving forward?
I think I changed just in those two months, because I feel like the social aspect of working is way more important than I realized before. When you are young, you always think about having this fancy job in a fancy company with fancy people, making a lot of money, retiring at 50 — stuff like that. When I started to work at World Services, I saw that it’s possible to really accomplish something if you tackle issue-based problems and when you work with people and not just with capitalistic enterprises. I think that social work has this image that it’s just for people who don’t want to be successful or earn a lot of money, but this experience really showed me that it is possible to accomplish a lot and work up to a different kind of success level. I think professionally, I want to stay in communications because communication can be used in most aspects of business and a lot of different industries.
(7) What is your advice to EVP program participants trying to connect their experiential study to an internship or job?
Be yourself, be blunt, and be curious. Curiosity leads to a lot of great things in this world. If I didn’t open that email, if I didn’t Google stuff about the agency or World Services, then I never would have gotten that internship. I remember when I wrote the application, I just basically read the questions and started writing. I wrote and wrote and wrote, and at some point I cut it and re-wrote it again. But, the core stayed the same. I think it’s important to know how to present yourself in a way that is not fake, but is still a tiny bit more interesting than you actually think you are. Also, ask a lot of questions. I always ask a lot of questions, and sometimes it’s really embarrassing, but it conveys that you’re really interested.
(8) What is next for you?
In Austria, we have three masters of wine, all dominated by males. As women in the 21st century, I believe we should not accept that. And, it would be very interesting to go to a master of wine meeting and be like, “I’m the first female.” To pursue this goal, I’m going to New York to do wine presentations and tastings, and after that I’m going home for a week to start working on the wine grape harvest. Next, I’m going to Barcelona for two months to do the second internship for my university at a small startup, so I’m trying to improve my Spanish. After my internship in Barcelona, I need to go back to Austria and write my master thesis.