Interns Lauren and Josie sitting on couch smiling at camera“So, what do you want to do after college?” is a question I’ve gotten since I stepped off the stage at my high school graduation. I’ve never had an exact answer, but I’ve been working on narrowing it down during my time at Iowa State University (ISU) and through internships.

In high school, my favorite place was the newspaper and yearbook computer lab. So, I entered Iowa State’s journalism and mass communication program with wide eyes and an open mind. The realms of journalism, advertising, and public relations immediately piqued my interests. I loved to creatively brainstorm advertising concepts, write editorial pieces for theoretical magazines, and strategize how to best reach a target audience in my classes.

Shortly after my sophomore year, I set a goal to intern at a corporate office and an agency before my college graduation. My professors seemed to come from either an advertising agency or corporate America. I was curious as to what drew them to one or the other. Before my internships, I assumed that a corporate office would be strict, repetitive work following one set of branding and an agency would be a go-with-the-flow, creatively inspiring environment. Although I’d heard some differences from my professors, I was determined to experience both for myself.

A unique marketing internship

I knew on my first day at Two Rivers Marketing that this marketing internship was going to be different.

I knew on my first day at Two Rivers Marketing that this marketing internship was going to be different.

My ambassador gave me a tour and introduced me to coworkers. I immediately had a familiar face in the agency and was later reintroduced to my intern supervisor, whom I’d interviewed with. She had put together my “Great First Week” schedule that mapped out my first five days to ensure I was at ease. She also had my summer roughly planned out with teams I’d be working with. Throughout the summer, she stayed in constant contact with me about how my internship was going.

This was the first internship I’ve had where I got to specify exactly what I wanted to work on. They actively asked during the interview process where I wanted to work within the agency. Then, after I accepted the job, they circled back to confirm those areas with me and made sure those teams were prepared for my arrival. This was the most structure I had ever had starting an internship, and I loved it. I felt welcomed with open arms and was able to meet with professionals in all clusters and disciplines of the agency. I was then given real-time projects to work on. I’ve written a press release for a client, contributed to media team projects, reformatted a client’s YouTube channel, and more.

Traditionally, companies hire interns for a specific department with a specific title, just with ‘intern’ attached at the end. Now, technically, my official title is ‘account service intern.’ But, as you can see, at Two Rivers Marketing I have the opportunity to get my feet wet within various teams across the agency. I call it a ‘full-service internship at a full-service agency.’

A true learning experience

From working with these teams, I have learned so much about industries and companies I had never heard of. For example, I can explain what trace minerals are and how they can help livestock farmers; I can explain the difference between a skid-steer loader and a compact track loader; and I now have a mini-dictionary of acronyms in my head. What I’m trying to say is, keep me in mind on trivia nights if you have the phone-a-friend option.

Other than this ‘random’ knowledge, I’ve also gotten a front-row seat to see exactly how the agency world works through the projects I’ve been able to work on. One of my favorites was being given the opportunity to write a company profile to appear in a trade magazine. I was invited to shadow a coworker while he interviewed the owner of the company and was told we were featuring them in our client’s custom publication. Then, our PR team pitched a related story to a trade magazine, who happily accepted. My coworker gave direction on what angle to write the piece from and explained the workflow of these types of projects. I got straight to work and was even able to send follow-up questions to better piece together the story. To say I’m ecstatic to have a piece like this in my portfolio is an understatement.

What’s next?

As I continued my adventure with Two Rivers Marketing (ISU folks — see what I did there?), I was able to spend time with the editorial and digital teams before I dove into my last year at ISU.

While I haven’t quite narrowed down my answer to the million-dollar question of what I want to do after graduation, I do know one thing (caution — cheesiness ahead): At the end of the summer, it’s not a goodbye to the agency world; it’s a see you later.

Interested in applying for an internship with Two Rivers Marketing? Check out the careers page to see what’s available.

About Lauren Vespa

Lauren was an account service intern at Two Rivers Marketing. She has headed back to Iowa State University for her senior year majoring in journalism and mass communication with a minor in design studies.