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A Day in the Life of a Summer Intern: Recapping a Two-Month Stint on Hilton Head Island

Summer may be winding down, but our intern contributions surely haven’t (though we imagine we’ll be slightly tweaking the headline in the next couple of weeks). Here’s this week’s installment from Joe Hickey, a senior at the University of South Carolina who just wrapped up a two-month internship at Bluffton, SC-based firm BFG Communications (which, of course, is not to be confused with BFG9000). The rather happy-looking lad, who is on his way to earning a degree in Visual Communications with a minor in Sports Management, shares what he’s learned from his experience at BFG.The floor’s yours, young man.

At the beginning of this summer I began my internship at the headquarters of BFG Communications in Hilton Head Island with no earthly idea of what to expect from the experience. The two months that followed showed me a small sample of advertising, marketing and communications, and also taught me a few very important lessons as I begin my journey into the business world.

The culture of BFG Communications is accentuated by the passion that drives everyone who works there. From the minute you walk in the door, the converted warehouse that holds both offices reminds you more of an indoor skate park than an office building, and the creativity of the people who call BFG home is displayed over every inch of the office. The creativity that flows through the office allowed me to enjoy my internship far more than those elsewhere whose internships were filled with long hours as gopher, getting coffee and pushing papers.

The experience of sitting in on client meetings whether they were conference calls or in person, with representatives from Coca Cola, Snyders-Lance, and Darden Restaurants, proved to be invaluable. I gained insights on how those who do this every day develop and change their marketing strategies according to the client’s wishes and needs, as well as maintain their strong relationships. It seems as though all too often we hear of the Creative department and Accounts Service at agencies butt heads as if they are at war with one another, so it was refreshing to see these two very different sides work together in unison at times when the meetings could have taken a turn for the worst. The better they work together, the more successful the company will be as a whole.

Most importantly, I learned that it is possible to have fun where you work, and when you do, that is the point at which the greatest ideas will come. Several things at BFG showed me that when times get tough and you need to relax, there is nothing wrong with staging an all out Nerf gun war against the other departments, playing a little three-on-three basketball tournament at lunch time, or enjoying the outdoors at the monthly Food Truck Tuesday. The ability to have fun is the key as long as your work gets done to the best of your natural capacity; your time can become a balancing act of a lot of work with just enough play.

These are most important things I learned, and I will take them with me wherever I go:

1. Every idea has the potential to be mind blowing. No matter how big or small it may be, do not throw something away just because you think it is stupid or insignificant. What is insignificant or stupid to you may be brilliant to someone else, or at least it may inspire them to help you create something of brilliance.

2. No matter what level of experience you have, there is always room to learn something new. I don’t mean this in the trivial sense of learning menial facts everyday. Having inexperienced youth mixed in with experienced combat veterans can be the key to increased creativity, and spark the ideas of the future. Those teaching the ropes can also become students of the younger generation that may change the world of business.

3. If all else fails, bribe them with food. The key to everyone’s heart is through their stomachs, so making homemade spaghetti and meatballs for the whole office on the last day of your internship is a great way to make sure that even if they don’t remember your name, they will never forget how damn good your sauce is.

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