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An Inter(n)esting Story: Ad Whore, Cold Showers, Deadly MRT Rides and a Minute to Shine

My Internship Article
Intern, Campaigns & Grey

April-May 2011

 

You woke up one morning; it was already the month of February. You noticed something different in your planner—a reminder written with a hot pink ink and with hearts all over it. Your heart beat really fast, you almost danced with its sound and the Eye of the Tiger song played in the background. You opened your laptop and typed enthusiastically. Your random sighs and gasps harmonized with the rhythmic sound of your keyboard. Email messages were sent one after another. Congratulations. You just finished your first step toward the whole internship endeavor.

While others were busy with their academic requirements, love lives, personal issues and organizational stuff, you were busy searching contacts of different advertising agencies. You tried sending private messages through facebook to your past and current professors. You lurked in different forums to find suggestions and tips on how to get accepted in an agency. You visited dozens of websites to find out their address and contact details. You blabbered every day to your friends your excitement about internship.

You were an advertising whore.

You were having day dreams of how the advertising industry is. People are wearing whatever they want. Ideas sprout everywhere. Copies can be written in just a blink of an eye. Creativity was your home field. Everything was bright and glamorous in your version of the world of advertising.

March came and you decided to personally apply to agencies. You prepared your best outfit, wore your lucky socks and briefs, poured a quarter of your Bambino cologne to your body and practiced your spiels that you wrote months ago—“Hi, I am Redd, a journalism student from UP Diliman and I am applying as an intern. Oh, thank you very much.” You closed your eyes and imagined yourself in a cubicle working for the next kick-ass advertisement of the year.

Makati is like a labyrinth, full of twists and turns. Tall buildings are everywhere and it is easy to get lost. But you were two steps ahead. You already memorized your destinations, the names of the buildings and the floor numbers. You walked confidently as if you were really a part of the Makati business center.

You entered your dream office, your dream company. You were about to say your spiel but no voice came out of your mouth. You were intimidated by everything. The office looked cool. Everyone seemed excellent. All your confidence vanished. You got out of the office without even saying a word. The same thing happened on the second, third, fourth and fifth company that you went to. It was really disappointing. You just thought it was just application. They had not read yet your credentials.

That thought boosted up your confidence a little. You tried to forget the looks of the people that you saw. Because you knew that those were the looks of stress and competition. You could not forget the stern eyes, the teasing smiles and the judging glances. You knew that you were seeing yourself five years from now.

You patiently waited for the agencies to contact you. You checked your email as often as you could and silently praying that you would get a message of acceptance. You sighed every time you saw “no new messages” or just a yahoogroups alert. You were starting to doubt yourself. Why were they not contacting you? Were your credentials not enough? You were from the premiere university of the country, the top journalism school and you even won several advertising competitions. Were they not enough?

Days passed by and the same rants filled your day dreams in between going to the future playing real life plants vs. zombies and writing a winning investigative journalism piece.

You opened your mail one time to check your sister’s email. You had no idea that you would receive your first notification. You felt awesome! You waited for it for a very long time. It was the first ever message that you receive from an agency. You quickly responded with links of your online works as your portfolio.

After a few days, you received your first interview invitation. You caused disturbance in your class while somebody was reporting just to answer a phone call. A few seconds after you came back, you went out again because of another call. You never paid attention to their reaction. You thought of nothing but those phone calls. You could hear Mozart playing the sweetest sonata in your head. It was the first step of the realization of your dreams.

You were murmuring excitedly the night before your interview. You searched several tips in the net. You practiced your opening spiels in front of the mirror. You knew that you need to make an impression. You practiced smiling while speaking. You were trying to be perky, to be energetic and to be charming. You almost forgot to sleep due to excitement.

Ten minutes before your alarm clock rang, you were already awake waiting for it to ring. You were really excited. You had this illusion of the agency people were enthusiastic to meet a young passionate advertising wannabe. You had no idea what it is really like in their world. You were blinded by the delusion of a great industry is waiting for you.

You entered their office. You greeted the secretary with a big smile. She told you to wait while the interviewers were preparing. You sat comfortably in a couch singing your favorite OPM song in your mind. You realized you sang the same song for more than 10 times. A slight confusion struck you.

You thought you were important. But you were wrong. In their world, their jobs are the priority. Their deadlines are more important than your time. It was you who need them, not the other way around. They could choose other interns, but they chose you because you impressed them with your resume. But you need to keep up with their expectations or you would be cut off. Then you realized a fact that you had forgotten. Advertising world is a competitive world. You had to literally go out for blood every day. You need to do better than the others. You need to do better than yourself yesterday. It is a very challenging profession because you will always have a reason to work harder and harder every minute.

The interview finally started after almost an hour of waiting. You sat opposite to your interviewer with your practiced smile. You answered the expected questions with flawless answers. You showed the interviewer that you were passionate and dedicated in pursuing a career in advertising. You proudly presented your previous works. You knew then that you just secured a spot in their internship program. You had no idea that a week later, you would make a make or break decision.

One lesson that you learned from online forums is you should have plan B’s to Z’s when applying for internship programs. You were optimistic in sending application to different agencies so you knew it was covered. Then, you realized, none of your priority agencies had replied with a sure slot for you. You got nervous. You knew you had less than 24 hours to decide where you would pursue your internship. You convinced yourself whatever would happen is God’s will. And the decision had been made.

It was your first day as an intern. You woke up way earlier from usual. You hate waking up early that was why you never got morning classes. You hated the cold shower. For several years now, you would rather go to your first class without a shower than suffer from the pain of the cold water splashing on your face. Fortunately, you could always heat water. And you did.

After a long travel, you finally entered a room full of other enthusiastic advertising wannabes. You saw familiar faces. You saw faces that you thought you have seen before but you could not remember when and where. You decided to sit alone in a corner and observe the people.

You realized, the room was like any other class, the usual taxonomy apply. There was a cool group. They were laughing and exchanging jokes one after another. They projected an image of difference from the rest and the spirit of fun. There was also the silent-geeky group. They were the eager to learn type. They would not talk during lectures and you could see their attention focused on the speaker. They took notes really fast and most of the time, in verbatim. Whenever they talked to each other, they always talked about what they learned in school and in the agency.

On the other hand, there was the know-it-all. He was proud of his achievements in life. Everything seemed easy for him. Nothing was difficult and he had always an opinion on every issue. There was also the joker, the mother, the shy type, the awkward and the who’s-that-girl/boy-again.

And there was you. You were perfectly happy sitting in the back, answering people’s query and shouting out your comments in your mind, imagining that it would be your agency after you graduated. You never tried to make friends or to open a conversation. You were not shy to approach them. You were just scared of not controlling yourself to talk too much that would make you fall under the know-it-all category. You were contented savoring your “me time” every hour of the day.

The lecture started—the big bosses inspiring and exposing the young minds with the realities of the advertising world. All of them agreed that “advertising is a competitive yet satisfying industry.” You could burn out easily. You would be facing stress. You would be experiencing days when your only chance to go home is to change clothes. But no words of discouragement could take away your dreams. Your professors already told you those things. You read different accounts of other people. The thought of being stresses, being challenged every day and being subjected to a competitive environment fueled more your desire.

You noticed, all of them loved being asked. They would always say that if you do not have a question, it is either you are not listening, you’re too shy to admit you were confused or you understood everything. You hated asking questions which were answered by the lecture. You hated questions with obvious answers. You hated asking questions for the sake of asking questions. That was why you never asked. You listened carefully with every word they spoke, taking mental notes and comparing what you learned from your advertising classes. But you realized, they could not read your mind. They did not know you understood them that was why you never asked question. For them, they were fonder of people who always ask—even nonsense ones.

At last, you were given your assignment, and you were placed to your dream place—the creative department. You were overwhelmed. You were imagining that you would be great, you would be able to think of concepts in a snap, everyone in the department would applaud you, just like in your advertising classes where everyone thought you were really creative. You forgot that you were not in school anymore where some people were not really pushing their own envelopes—where the competition was nearly non-existent. You were now in a real agency—where you are competing with your co-interns, with the “real” ad people and with the status quo.

You were too tired that day—updating your facebook status and tweeting about anything but work-related things. You were given your first assignment but the creative juices were yet to come. You thought maybe they were stuck in traffic so you would have to be more patient. You decided to go home.

As usual, you had two options. First, ride a bus and finish two movies before arriving to your house or ride a MRT and risk your life, or your virginity. You chose the latter. It was much more exciting anyway.

You were at Buendia Station, with packs of people waiting for the next train. You chose the spot near the door—and so were others. You thought, catching a train is like working in an ad agency. It is fierce competition. Everyone has the same footing but with different styles and strategies. There is no place for a gentleman because the only rule is: murder or get murdered. If you miss a train, you could wait for another. But it doesn’t guarantee you a spot. You need to constantly fight your way out, or in this case, fight your way in.

The train was coming, and you were salivating with poisonous venom waiting to strike. Just like in movies, the train was moving in a slow motion and the sighs of the people were amplified. The door was slowly opening and your muscles flexed. You moved your feet and swiftly entered the train through small gaps. Hurray! You officially boarded the train.

Your body prepared to relax, to loosen the stiff muscles you flexed to enter the challenging sliding doors of the train but you noticed, you were still moving. You exerted no effort but you could not help but to go with the current of people. You were not strong enough, and you realized your life was more valuable than to get a decent spot.

You made up your mind that night that you prefer the agonizing traffic of Edsa rather than put your life at risk again.

You woke up the next morning and shouted “eureka!” because you had thought of a concept you thought would blow the mind of your boss. You excitedly rehearsed how you would present your ideas and a big smile was carved on your face on the way to your boss’ room. You cleared your throat and your boss let you enter his room. You started your rehearsed speech when you noticed something was wrong. There was no spark in his eyes. There was no excitement. No interest. Then you realized your good wasn’t good enough. Your boss made his comments and you saw where he was coming from. Advertising existed way before you were born. There is no more original advertisement anymore. It is just a matter of execution, twists and insights.

You left his office with a greater sense of challenge ahead. You would not stop thinking and pushing yourself. After your 2nd, 3rd, 4th up to infinity consultation, you never stopped trying. You watched hundreds of advertisements, read pages of advertising books, and consulted tons of webpages to extract creativity from you. You were desperate to come up with ideas. Then, you noticed, you fell victim to a classic mistake of young creative people. Being creative for creativity’s sake. You forgot to enjoy what you were doing. To live to be creative. To observe to develop strategies. You forgot you had it in you. You forgot that your source of inspiration surrounded you.

On your way home while enduring the traffic of the metro, the inspiration came. Poof! You knew you just thought of an ass-kicking concept. But you still had two hours more to endure so you went back to your nightly dose of self-realization and answering imaginary sudokus on billboards.

The day of your presentation came. You came up with your script that you rehearsed for a thousand times. You waited for this moment for too long and you knew, it was your time to shine. You collaborated well with your partner and your contribution was significant so you expected to be given more credit than her. The clock was ticking and every glance of your boss struck you harder and harder. Your heart was beating louder and all you could hear was the script you memorized and all you could see was your concept.

Then, your boss called you to present. Your hands were shaking but you needed to show confidence. You started your presentation but along the way, you forgot what to say. Everything on your cue card made no sense. You were lost in the middle of your prepared visuals and your nervousness bit you in your ass.

The presentation ended after a moment. Your concept received positive remarks. But you received disappointment. Not because your boss said so, but because you knew you could have done something better. A heck of a lot better. Great concept. Nervousness taking over you. You wasted your time to shine.

You learned a great lesson that day. In this industry, you only have a minute to shine, to show what you can do, to make them see what you are made of. You need to impress them with everything that you can offer. In such a competitive world, you should be packaged to be an all-around worker. You should know a thing about this and that and you should excel in your chosen craft. You need to develop your passion that should manifest in your output.

But also, you knew that you always have a chance to redeem yourself. A failure does not mean the end of your career. It will make you depressed for a day but it should help you realize what you did wrong and how you can improve. It will serve as your battle scar and prove how you strengthen your skills and talents. Being creative is not an overnight process. It takes years, tons of experiences and great deal of failures to master the craft.

Going home that day, you realized that this industry is calling your name. You discovered your weaknesses so you know where you should concentrate more. Since you could not draw as good as fine arts students, you should knock them off with your over the top copies. Since you were not as good in photoshop, illustrator or vector, you should outshine them with your brilliant and unique ideas.

The rest of your internship passed in a blur. Nothing as remarkable and exciting as your first and last assignment. You attended shoots of actual commercials and observed the realities behind every 30 seconder advertisement. You were eager to observe and at the same time, as eager to go back to school and get more courses that might help you in your dreams.

You were smiling as you typed the last paragraph of this article because you knew, the moment you step out of college and read again this article, you would say how foolish you were to dream of something big in an industry that would kill to outshine competitions but would consistently reward you with growth and never ending experiences.

 

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2 thoughts on “An Inter(n)esting Story: Ad Whore, Cold Showers, Deadly MRT Rides and a Minute to Shine

  1. Pingback: Under the Yellow PubCrawl Intern Shirt | PubCrawl

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