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As summer interns working at W2O Group, we have the privilege to work on various accounts, develop analytical skills and work with the most innovative leaders in the industry. In addition to these opportunities, we were required to team up for the intern project and develop a marketing campaign to drive awareness for a local non-profit and increase the level of donations made by millennials. Over four weeks, our team collaborated across all offices to research our client, gather analytics and present our campaign to W2O employees and leadership. Initially, the project was intimidating. By the end, we all held a deep appreciation for the extensive work put in and insights gained.

As millennials ourselves, we encountered both advantages and disadvantages as we set out to create a campaign targeting millennials. As we researched various types of millennial campaigns, we quickly realized that our generation appreciates the opportunity to self-broadcast and personalize an experience with brands and organizations. Leveraging this, we decided our campaign needed to satisfy this expectation, while still communicating the organization’s mission in an interactive and compelling way.

We strategized methods to engage and increase donations from the “digital natives”, which encouraged us to reflect on our individual digital and social habits. We considered our inherent skills and relationship with technology to decide which social media platforms would best complement and drive our campaign.

“It’s hard to pinpoint what a millennial will like or engage in down the road because our likes and dislikes change so rapidly.” – Taylor Murphy, Digital Technology Intern

Clearly, our team was composed of only a small segment of the millennial generation, limited between the ages of 20 to 22. While our age range may have seemed like a disadvantage at first, it forced us to combine hard evidence with our individual experience to further our analysis. This allowed us to set aside our biases and expand our research to identify the universal characteristics that define millennials.

After our presentation, Bob Pearson, president & chief innovation officer at W2O Group, asked us, “Would you share this?” A question that resonated with us, we realized that as millennials, we are prominent drivers in the online space that want to share ideas and be heard. Pearson provided us with a takeaway that tied our analytics findings to our campaign ideas. With four simple words, he was able to sum up what our team’s main advantage was—we know millennials because we are millennials.

Aside from learning more about our own generation, we also learned about the dynamics of working on an agency team. Here are five takeaways for future interns working on this project:

Time management is a must

Agency life is characterized by the hustle and bustle of being billable. This is something you realize on day one. When our team was introduced to the intern project in the middle of June, we already had our own client work to keep up with. The juggling of everyone’s busy calendars during this period made Outlook’s Scheduling Assistant our best friend. It was necessary to find the balance between getting work done separately and as a group—two completely different dynamics, but equally important.

Working in a team spread across the country is hard

W2O Group has offices all over the world. If a person on your team works from London, you need to take into account a five-hour time difference or risk calling him or her in the middle of the night. Although we had no one working abroad, our team still had to navigate three different time zones. This was something that was difficult at first, but we eventually used it to our advantage. When team members could not finish something in the New York office, interns in the Austin and San Francisco offices could often pick up the slack.

“The project ended up being a valuable learning experience as we had to take responsibility for our roles and figure everything out ourselves, making it an exciting process.” – Mackenzie O’Holleran, Insights & Strategy Intern

Don’t limit yourself to a title

When teams are assigned the intern project, they receive a project brief and are told to assign various “leads.” There’s an analytics lead, a media and engagement lead, a creative lead and more. Something our group learned quickly was that, overall, a collaborative approach works the best. We produced our best work when we had a cross-over of people working on parts that weren’t necessarily their responsibility. This created a true sense of integration throughout our presentation and prevented us from appearing disjointed.

Everyone’s opinion matters

Disagreements were common during the intern project, but this was not a bad thing. If there were no disagreements, chances are our team wouldn’t have been taking the time to analyze ideas in the first place. Our team’s disagreements demonstrated that everyone really cared about producing quality work rather than making rash judgements and rushing into a decision. Although disagreement was common, we strove to foster an environment where everyone’s opinion was a valued piece to the campaign puzzle.

There will always be people willing to lend a hand

Do not be afraid to ask for help. The sheer number of employees that took time out of there busy days to help us with this project truly speaks to the great people that work here. These employees truly are an untapped resource to utilize for this project, and so much more. Expanding your network at W2O Group is essential and the intern project offers participants the perfect vehicle to do this.

The intern project not only gave us real-world experience working on an account, but it also taught us about the current media world we live in and how we, as millennials, can make an impact. We learned that our age and life experience are not setbacks but advantages. As both interns and millennials, we took advantage of our social media expertise and applied it to a campaign that would target a specific audience. Overall, the intern project taught us lessons that we will take with us as we advance in both our careers and the world at large.

– Andrew Petro, Olivia Zucosky, Danielle Hay

Intern Team Includes: Michael Capone (Digital & Analytics), Olivia Zucosky (Planning Lead), Danielle Hay (PMO), Tania Soto-Lopez (Analytics), Andrew Petro (Account Lead), Daniel Ayersman (Analytics), Mackenzie O’Holleran (Analytics), Dylan Stuart (M&E) and Taylor Murphy (CCX)

If you’re from Texas, you might know that a Longhorn, a Horned Frog, and an Aggie don’t exactly get along on the football field. That goes without saying if you also add in a Pelican, a Spartan, a Tiger, a Mustang, a Wildcat, a Bear, and even an Orange Man…you never know what you’ll find. Who knew Horned Frogs and Aggies could work together in a digital light? Or that Bears and Wildcats could become friends whilst inquiring and compiling useful analytics? Luckily for us, this was the perfect mix to create an excellent marketing campaign. In only one month and across four different office locations, W2O interns developed a simulated marketing campaign and presented a deck for a non-profit corporation to target millennials. Our subject was a local non-profit corporation that offers credit cards that cash back points as a channel to donate directly to charities of the user’s choice directly from their mobile app. How much easier could donating get?

“We collaborated across four different offices to #MakeItHappen, now that’s the definition of #LetsHang.” -Andrew Echeguren, Media and Engagement Lead

Millennials are not one segment – As you might know, the age group of Millennials differs based on who you talk to. By definition, we are between 18 and 34 years old. This is definitely a difficult age range to target, but we were asked to reach out to all millennials who are interested in giving back. When we ran our analytics, we found that millennials are interested in both charity and philanthropy. Our #1 source of information from millennials was from Twitter handles.

The power of hashtags – It’s easy to start a conversation in person with a simple “Hello, how are you doing?” or “Good morning, did you see the CNN news this morning?”…The web can seem a little overwhelming, but there is a way to focus the conversation. If you are reading this, you are probably familiar that it is called a hashtag. With our campaign, we wanted to reach millennials in creative and unique ways to get their center of conversations about how they can help and “Charge It Forward”. Our team created our own hashtag, #PositivelyCharged, to begin and facilitate conversations.

Crowd sourcing knowledge & diversity matters – Much like representing different mascots, each member on our team had a different skill set they each brought to the table…and those skills didn’t all come from one location. They came from four different W2O offices. Our planning lead, Lauren Harris, brought up the challenges of collaborating with a national team, and explained, “Working between time zones and offices was a new challenge that I think we all learned a lot from.” Back at our universities, the most distant person we will work with on a project, is across the lecture hall or living in a different dorm on the same campus. “Working across three different time zones was pretty tricky, but we all adjusted our work ethics and learned how to work around our obstacles,” stated Digital Lead, Brittany Pearson. That must be similar to what you may have learned a long time ago – or maybe not too long ago, depending if you’re a Boomer or a Gen X. Bottom line…we grasped that we are far more powerful as a team, than we are on our own.

Importance of presenting – More often times than not, a presentation of some sort is required as part of a project for class. Anxiety and fear is normal…but why? It’s only your peers, whom are your own age – and your professor of course, but that isn’t all too worrisome. For many of us, this was the first time to present to an audience other than classmates or teachers/professors. For some, fear came from anticipating speaking in front of leadership of our company…but this experience allowed us to understand how a campaign should correctly be performed. Our account lead, Caitlin Orwin, noted, “Presenting in a business setting was an invaluable experience that presented challenges foreign from any I’d faced in class presentations. No matter how many class presentations you give, none can prepare you for the real thing outside of an internship and I feel much more confident in my presenting skills after this experience.” Another insight per presenting, was from the team’s PMO, Anna Hodge, “It is rare for interns to gain presentation experience – I feel really fortunate to have been afforded the opportunity to present to a group of W2O employees across the country.”

Think on your feet & don’t be shy – I think it’s safe to say we all learned that in the business world, you must think on your feet. For example, Greg Matthews, Managing Director at W2O’s MDigitalLife, asked an extensive question referring to the analytics information we provided. In class, a professor doesn’t necessarily ask you a question to get your juices flowing – they just give you a grade on what they think you deserve. It’s also important to learn how and when to speak up. Our team learned that you have to put your ideas out there and not think twice whether your idea will be rejected or glorified. Analytics Lead, Garrett Clare, reflected on how his “teammates were always helpful and insightful, adding their input when necessary, in addition to always being open to what others wanted.” You’ll never know unless you try…or speak.

Overall we learned that the soft skills of collaborating within or across offices and learning how to develop insights and then present them are as important as the hard skills of learning communications or analytics or marketing. Experience matters.

Now back to the mascots…we learned how to work together during the summer, but with football season approaching and going back to school, it might become a little harder…but we’ll figure it out 🙂

 

Note: our team includes Anna Hodge (PMO), Lauren Harris (Planning), Caitlin Orwin (Account Lead), Allison Rogers (Creative), Chantelle Patel (Media & Eng), Andrew Echeguren (Media & Eng), Brittany Pearson (Digital), Austin Thompson (Digital), Garrett Clare (Analytics), and Andrew Slade (Analytics)

The W2O Group Center for Social Commerce is proud to announce its 2015 student Ambassadors. The Ambassador Program, now in its second year, gives at least two Syracuse University students the opportunity to take on a full-year leadership position within the Center. These Ambassadors are tasked with being our “boots on the ground,” helping promote the Center, its initiatives and its value to students, faculty and the industry. Along with their daily responsibilities during the Spring and Fall semesters, these two students will join W2O Group’s New York City office this Summer as interns. Along with their internship, both Ambassadors will attend W2O Group events at SXSW, an opportunity to truly integrate themselves in W2O Group’s thinking, and get quickly onboarded for their future responsibilities.

Please join us in welcoming our newest Ambassadors! Below, they’ve shared a few thoughts on what this position means to them:

Anna HodgeAnna Hodge

I’m so excited to be joining a digitally advanced team like W2O Group this upcoming summer as a Corporate and Strategy intern. As a junior journalism major at Syracuse University I first came across W2O Group when I was searching the web for articles related to journalism in the digital age. I stumbled across a 2013 W2O Group blog about the evolving journalism industry and the rise in paid online content. As a freshman, I maintained interest in the company and was excited to gain the opportunity to apply to W2O Group Center for Social Commerce program within the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications. With a previous summer internship in corporate communications and on-campus experience in writing and social media, I understand the importance of conveying brand messaging.

As a journalism major, I am excited to use my abilities as a writer and social media producer to tell the stories of corporate clients and engage audiences on new and innovative platforms. When asked why I made the switch from journalism to public relations, I always respond that my passion for storytelling has evolved in to one surrounding a brand’s narrative. I’m excited to work with W2O Group in moving brands forward with the combination of new practices such as social media and the traditional practices of effective writing. I view W2O Group as a pioneering brand, molding the future of a more digitally advanced public relations industry, and am excited to be a part of such a progressive and innovative team.

Andrew PetroAndrew Petro

I am extremely excited to be joining W2O Group through the Center for Social Commerce Ambassador Program. It is wonderful to have the opportunity to be a part of such an innovative and forward-thinking agency. After experiencing Social Commerce Days, I can’t wait to give back to the cause that has already impacted me in so many ways.

Last semester, I took advantage of the impressive speaker lineup and other events that comprised Social Commerce Days. It was during those days that I learned exactly what the Center for Social Commerce really does. I learned how big of a resource it is for the students and faculty of Newhouse. I can’t wait to help promote and develop the center so that more people will be able to take advantage of all that it has to offer.

As a public relations and marketing dual major, I have taken an interest in the field of research. This summer I will get to spend 10 weeks interning at W2O Group’s New York City office. I cannot wait to get hands-on experience with analytics and learn from the industry professionals working for this agency.

Overall, I feel overjoyed to be in this role. I am eager to take on the responsibilities of the Ambassador Program and will work hard to take the Center for Social Commerce to the next level.

 

At W2O group, we take pride in our growing internship program, offered in the fall, spring, and summer. We always make sure to give our interns meaningful projects that challenge and empower them in their professional journey. This past summer, we had a stellar group and we want to spotlight one in particular, Joe Donenfeld, who was a dedicated member of our team and eager to learn. He provided me with some insight in regards to his experience in our New York office this past summer.

[Blaire] What did you enjoy most about your summer internship with WCG?
[Joe:] I loved the people I worked with. The analytics team created a learning environment, yet I was also given a tremendous amount of responsibility. I was able to reach out to anyone in the company, no matter what department, or position and set up a meeting. I quickly developed mentors in different departments as well as my own. I walked away from the summer with a totally new perspective.
[Blaire:] What is the most important thing you learned in regards to professional/personal development?
[Joe:] It’s important to always in a position to learn something and add value to yourself.

He also gave the following reasons that made his internship so worthwhile:

1. “I was working with the smartest people in the field, who took the time to mentor me and provide constructive feedback.”
2. “I had complete access to everyone at the company, including executives, who were all eager to take the time to guide me and answer any questions I had.”
3. “Everyone I worked with treated me as a colleague and I was given a workload equivalent to a full-time employee, so I actually got a taste of what it meant to work at WCG.”

Joe, a Senior at Tufts University, created the following infographic based on his experience with our team. Check out more information about his experience and other infographics in his personal blog, http://joedonenfeld.com/.

Thank you Joe, on behalf of the W2O Team, for deciding to Go.Ahead. by sharing your experience and creativity! We appreciate the shout out and wish you the best in all future endeavors.

Interested in interning with us? Check out our Career Page for openings- only those with passion, curiosity, and drive allowed to apply.

It’s that time again when summer interns return to college for their last year of fully subsidized freedom. For most, they will begin the school year on top of the world – ready and excited to have the most flexible schedules, live in the coolest apartments, work on the projects that really interest them, and put a flag in the mountain of their adult social lives. However, somewhere in the second half of the year, the harsh realities of an exceedingly challenging job market will set in.

If you believe the headlines, the market will “force” some to defer that challenge through continuing education or any variety of other avoidance tactics. Others will gratefully take any job that gets them started working, even if it’s not what excites them… You can’t win the game if you’re sitting on the sidelines…

Yet, despite all the gloom and doom we’ve heard about today’s job market, companies are hiring. In fact, if you ask most hiring managers, finding and recruiting top talent is one of their biggest challenges. That’s certainly the case at W2O Group, where 30% year over year growth has become the norm, and bright young people are eagerly sought after.

This month we parted ways (either temporarily or permanently) with 30 interns who are becoming college seniors. Many of them were aggressive, driven, capable young people, who sought out 1-on-1 conversations with top execs in our firm as part of their learning experience.

As someone who was fortunate to receive early mentorship in my career, I believe strongly in sharing “down” the things that can help ambitious and capable young people get ahead.

This blog post is intended for the 1%.  The most driven, the most capable.  The ones who are going to succeed in the working world, no matter what…  The ones who will have multiple job offers when they graduate.

Here are five things I encourage you to focus on when selecting the right job when you graduate:

#1 – Where will you learn the most?
This should be the most important factor in your decision.  As a reform(ing) know-it-all, I can attest that people who know-it-all never learn anything… And you still have a lot to learn.  Put yourself in the position where you will learn the most, the quickest. This will not happen in training programs or books.  Now is when learning “on the job” becomes real.  Look for a job where you can have ownership of projects, flexibility to learn from your mistakes, breadth and diversity in what you work on, as well as accountability.  You should be uncomfortable.  You should fail sometimes.  If you don’t feel like a disappointment once in a while, you’re probably not pushing yourself enough.

 

#2 – Where will you build your network?
A lot of young people make the mistake of following big brand names into small silo’s of opportunity.  Early in your career it’s particularly important to build a wide network.  It helps you refine what you really want from your own career and also sets you up for fast growth several years down the road.  This means you need a job where you meet and work with people outside of your own company.  Many young people start their career inside a large company only to later discover their network is limited to just one company.  Look for a job where you work with a wide variety of companies – sales, consulting, and agency jobs are great for this.

 

#3 – Where will you become a leader?
One of my favorite definitions of leadership is that, “leadership is about managing energy… first in yourself and then in those around you.”  It comes from an MBA-school book called Level Three Leadership.  If it’s important that you learn skills on the job, it’s essential that you learn leadership from people who lead successfully.  Much of this is observing and absorbing how they manage energy in themselves and the people around them.  This can only happen if you have direct access to leaders.  It’s hard to learn leadership from your peers, or people who are just one step ahead of you.  You want a job where entry level staff get direct access to the real leaders of the company.

 

#4 – Where will you hone your personal acumen?
Every good employee-employer relationship should be two directional.  You should be able to answer the question, “what value does the company provide me?” but also “what value do I provide this company?”  I think about this in two ways.

Job Acumen in which you become increasingly valuable in your job over time.
Personal Acumen in which you become increasingly valuable to ANY job over time.

To use a very simple example, Job Acumen would be getting better at pitching your company’s product.  Personal Acumen would be learning how to be more persuasive in any business meeting.  It’s important that your first job nurtures both – you need to learn real skills and become valuable in a specific job, but you also need to nurture your own Personal Acumen in ways that are valuable in any job.

 

#5 – Where will you have a voice?
I list this last on purpose because it is badly desired but overhyped by most young people today.  I was the same way – believing my opinion was important enough to be heard the minute I stepped out of school.  In most good jobs today, your voice should be heard.  Any company that discourages its employees from voicing their opinion – internally and externally, is a warning sign for lots of other reasons you don’t want to work there.  It’s also true that good ideas can come from anywhere – even you, Mr. First Day.  But, I say it’s overhyped because there is something to be said for just shutting up and learning.  Something I’ve done in fits and starts throughout my career, but which I valued tremendously when I did.

It’s a complicated job market with increasing competition for the young people who will truly revolutionize business.  With more corporate influence in the hands of young people than ever before, you really do have tremendous opportunities if you choose wisely.  I try hard to be personally accessible to driven, capable young people, as do the rest of our firm’s leadership.  If you’re considering a job here, just reach out.  It’s your career…

“Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.” 

– John F. Kennedy

This concept can be applied to our daily life as a global, integrated marketing agency, but it especially rings true for our internship program. Our summer interns are in full swing and we’re always excited to see what they deliver with the meaningful projects they are given.  You won’t find “coffee runs” or “phone support” within the realm of their responsibilities, contrary to what many may believe constitutes the typical “intern” role. Our interns act as team players with their respective managers and teams, creating a two-way street that provides a learning environment for both parties.

Our internship program is impactful for both the individuals who join and the employees across practice areas within W2O Group. Here are a some reasons why:

  • Since the inception of our program, we have had over 80 interns and 25% of them have transitioned into a full-time position. We recruit the best and brightest! Former intern, now Healthcare Analytics Associate, Shruti Saran, was named one of 9 PR interns destined for greatness for her performance in “thinking of data and SMB like a Ph.D candidate” coupled with her “willingness to learn and be a team player”.
  • Our interns are as diverse as our offerings. They include undergraduate and graduate students as well as PhD candidates in each of our six offices. They are involved in projects that span the practices of analytics, content strategy, technology and design.
  • There are many opportunities to showcase ones’ skills by assigning significant projects. Elise Trent, now Account Manager, proclaims in her testimonial that she “developed meaningful working relationships with account teams [and] was provided with opportunities to take ownership of several client-facing assignments” during her internship.

Meet our interns! Check out these introductory videos that our current interns collaborated on to illustrate some of their personality. (Don’t forget to turn up your speakers!)

Austin

Los Angeles

New York

San Francisco

Newest Additions

Interested in interning with us? Visit our career page and follow us on @W2OGroup.

With the arrival of Labor Day, it is clear that summer is over.  Another indicator on the change of season is the empty desks left behind by our departing summer interns.

This summer we had 12 interns that were working within our Analytics, Health Care, Corporate and IT Departments.  Their projects ranged from client facing work to research to data analysis to hands-on IT infrastructure work.

Interns have historically been a great feeder for talent for W2O Group with approximately 15 – 20% of them being retained or re-hired upon their graduation.

Joshua Kadden, our intern in our IT group wrote a great follow up letter to the CEO on his time with us:

Dear Jim,
I would like to give you credit for helping me have the most special, unique, productive and overall amazing experience that I could have possibly imagined.  At first I did not quite understand what WCG did and does because there is so much you guys do.  As the summer went on I realized that was what made WCG such a cool place to work.  There was so many different opportunities and so many different departments. To appeal to different interests.  I took advantage of this by reaching out and learning from the IT department, corporate strategy, finance and the social media people.  I don’t think there are many professors that could teach me what Benny, Gary, Paul and Tom had taught me.

Looking at business the way I look at sports teams is an important approach that I took away from my summer experience.  It doesn’t matter about individual players if there is no strong team and team cooperation.  

I learned this first hand working with the IT team.  This summer was an exciting one for the IT team in NY, most of which was out of their control, and yet despite the heat we took, Benny continued to deal with these problems in a admirable way constantly refusing to throw anyone under the bus.

Despite learning an infinite amount of information this summer, I think my favorite part of being part of the WCG team was the office environment and the rest of the employees.  These two things are what made my last days the most memorable.  During the Olympic Games I had met and spoken with employees I had never even seen.  I was sharing similar emotions with full grown men and women at the victory of flip-cup that I share with my friends at school.

As a result of this experience I feel far more educated, mature and directed and I owe that to you.  I hope that I will have another opportunity similar to this in my life.

Sincerely,
Josh

One of the things that resonated from Josh’s letter is how WCG is getting it right with working with the Millenials.  In a recent contribution to Forbes, Matt Miller showed a great info-graphic that outlines findings from a study done at University of North Carolina Kenan-Flagler Business School.
Clearly, in Josh’s case we provided the collaboration and motivation needed as he worked cross functionally, and inclusively across the organization.  …and playing Flip Cup at the company’s Olympic Games celebration gave him a way to network with Baby-Boomers and continued to keep him engaged in the organization.  Who knew that a college drinking game could be a bridge between the generations that also strengthens employee engagement?