Ogilvy: Exploring the Unknown, the Failures, and the Fun

I was intimidated walking into the lobby of Ogilvy headquarters on that first day of June. However, once the eight other PR interns and I saw our intern room –colorfully decorated, custom signs with our names on them, welcome written across the wall, and a white board to make our own- I knew this was going to be a great place to work. The atmosphere allowed me to have some key takeaways from my overall internship experience.

Try a field you know nothing about: My PR position was in healthcare. I had never worked in healthcare nor did I know much about it. Because I knew very little about their clients, I forced myself to do some extensive research on the topic. Healthcare contains a lot of jargon, statistics, and scientific studies. It seemed like an impossible task at first-to learn the lingo- but by the end I could easily explain to my peers exactly what our client’s breakthrough cancer drug was, the results of the trials, FDA approvals, etc. Through media monitoring, analyzing messages, and attending weekly client calls, I left Ogilvy feeling so much more aware of this important aspect of our world.

Turn your failures into accelerated learning opportunities: We had an internship project with a very complex “ask.” Two weeks before our presentation, we did a “check-in” with a professional mentor within Ogilvy PR only to find out that we did not approach the “ask” correctly, resulting in us having to completely restart our project. At first, we felt like we failed because we worked so hard towards a pitch that missed the mark. Now, we had an extremely accelerate timeline to create a new pitch for the client. However, our mentors motivated us and turned this into an invaluable learning experience. The next couple weeks was a rollercoaster of emotions- driven, defeated, enthusiastic, shot down- times where I questioned my ability to even do PR. Throughout this, though, we all learned our strengths, weaknesses, our ability to work with others, and our ability to work under pressure. On presentation day, both teams blew the client away. We came so far in just two weeks, and we were entirely new people by the end of it. In retrospect, the fact that we initially “failed,” was beneficial because it was a real-world experience.

Be sure to “Take 5” during work: I always took my work seriously, and so did everyone else. But the people at Ogilvy also taught me that it’s important to sometimes take a breath, be a little silly, and have some fun while you’re working. Before every weekly client call, my team played a game to relieve stress, have some fun, and bring out the creative juices. We were also encouraged to do work on the rooftop so we could have a more calming work environment. Every once in a while, we took time out of our day to just have coffee with a new colleague. Every other Thursday, they brought around a drink cart and played music for everyone to enjoy. Small activities like these create a healthy working environment where people want to remain. So during your work day, no matter how stressed, take some time to enjoy the place you are working at-it makes a world of difference.

Leaving the colorful intern room at the end of the summer was hard, but reflecting on my experience, I’ve realized that this was the greatest internship I’ve ever had. I formed genuine relationships with people who were happy to talk to me and work with me. Never have I met a more welcoming, enthusiastic, and creative group of people. Ogilvy allowed me to explore new opportunities and have fun in the process.

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