As we reflect on our summer internship experience and kick off our senior year at Syracuse University, we wanted to share our key takeaways from a summer well-spent at W2O Group, part of our year-long experience as 2018 Student Ambassadors for the W2O Center for Social Commerce program. Our summer in the New York office can be summarized in three words: fast-paced, experiential and exciting. Not only did we get to work with the Center for Social Commerce, but we were also involved with projects on various client accounts across a number of industries, including technology, healthcare, manufacturing and more. Here’s what we learned along the way:

Learning the agency life

Leah: I thought I had a pretty good grasp of agency life from working at an agency in my hometown. But coming to W2O Group, I had the opportunity to grow in a different type of agency setting. Over the course of the summer, I worked on many different teams, learned new skills, and began to understand various industries. And now, having worked on more than ten client accounts in one summer, I can say that learning and experiencing something new every day is the best part of an agency to me.

Kris: I came to W2O with three years of in-house corporate communications experience, so agency life was very different for me! This summer I had the opportunity to jump in on multiple accounts, and get my feet wet with a variety of asks. From working with media relations, to drafting corporate social content and helping with an investor day, the experience I gained was extremely well rounded. Perhaps the best parts of working at an agency were having the opportunity to work with so many intelligent people and seeing our work come to fruition for our clients.

Collaborating with other interns

Leah: At W2O Group, we were lucky enough to work with almost 40 interns from offices across the country for our summer intern project. Every intern had a different path in getting to W2O and having the opportunity to learn from my peers in different practice areas was incredibly unique. Not only did they share their perspectives and experiences, but the other interns made coming to work fun! I’ve made relationships here I’ll take with me into the next year and beyond.

Kris: Collaboration is king at W2O Group. Whether it’s with your fellow interns that sit right next to you or teammates across the country, there is always an aspect of working together to successfully complete a task. As a business student, I spend most of my classes engaging in group work. I was pleasantly surprised to find similar collaboration in the public relations world. This experience has opened my eyes to new ways of thinking and creating that I will keep with me as I head into my senior year.

Working under deadline

Leah: This internship taught me how to work under strict deadlines. You might wonder, “Leah, didn’t college teach you that?” At school, I learned time management skills by balancing my class work with my extra-curricular activities; at W2O, I refined this skillset by balancing diverse client work, while still engaging in my own professional development and related activities. Unlike the extended deadlines offered for class assignments, I often had to complete asks within more limited windows, usually just a few hours or even minutes. I didn’t have late nights in Bird Library, but I did have busy days filled with multiple projects and tight turnarounds.

Kris: Deadlines are real. And they are no joke. Earlier in the summer, at one of our intern speaker series sessions, an executive gave us some advice that I think about almost every day. She filled us in on an industry secret— each client is going to expect to be treated as if they are your only client— and it’s true! In the client service industry, each account deserves equal attention from the team, so meeting deadlines becomes a part of daily life to keep all the wheels turning. It can be overwhelming when you have to stay late or get in early just to complete everything you must tackle in one day, but in the words of Jenn Gottlieb, President of W2O and Newhouse alumna, “live by your Outlook calendar, it will save your life!”

Finding your squad

Leah: Early on, I discovered that I was working with some of the most intelligent people I have ever met. Not only are they incredibly passionate about their jobs, but they are so knowledgeable about the communications industry and their clients’ industries. Throughout the summer, I found mentors, resources and connections that have provided me with a strong foundation as I establish my future path. I was surrounded by associates, managers and directors who drive me to bring my best every day, because they bring their A-game always.

Kris: From junior employees to top level executives, there is nothing more important than finding your squad. These are the people who will have your back when work gets tough, will encourage you to manage up, give you confidence in your own ideas and will be there at the end of the day to celebrate your victories (even the little ones). This summer, I was lucky enough to find a group of incredibly driven interns, associates, managers and more, who made walking into work every day exciting and pushed me to be my best self at everything I did.

Nerding out about your job

Leah: I loved coming to W2O Group every day because of the people, the great snacks, but most importantly— the work! I feel fortunate to have worked with many different account teams. Not only did I have the chance to be ingrained in client work, but I also learned about the broader industries in which they operate. Who knew topics like healthcare could be so compelling!?

Kris: Work is fun! I’ll admit it— I love interning, especially at W2O. There are challenges, but the proud feeling that comes along with finishing a difficult project makes it all worth it. Between the people who made the days go by so fast and after-work activities like company kickball every Wednesday, this summer has flown by! My job has easily become my favorite topic of conversation, and I’m sure will continue to be while I’m back on campus this year.

Our summer at W2O has been filled with life lessons, new friends and mentors, and fresh perspectives on the PR world. We have experienced exponential growth both professionally and personally and are excited to build upon our new skill sets while we are back for our senior year at Syracuse. As for now, we can’t wait to continue our support of W2O Center for Social Commerce programs this fall!

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