A Summer at SKAR
Alec Norem was a copywriting intern at SKAR during the summer of 2017.
‘What do you think, Alec?’
Wait, what? You want my opinion? But I’m just a lowly intern who’s here to observe and go fetch the coffee.
Wrong. Not at SKAR.
Smack dab in the middle of Omaha, SKAR has been the launch point into my career in advertising, and I could not have been luckier.
From day one there was never a moment when I felt like an intern newbie. From creative strategizing in the War Room (yes, sounds very “Game of Thrones”-esque) to writing actual copy for radio and television spots, SKAR truly valued the opinion of this plucky millennial.
SKAR pushed me to attack a challenge from all angles and taught me instrumental lessons as a future copywriting hopeful.
So here’s a few of those lessons:
First Things First: Lie
You heard me. Not the full-blown “I can speak five different languages” type of lie. But the subtle “Oh yes I’m definitely interested in doing data-driven research even though I really don’t care for research, but it’s part of this job so I would love to” kind of lie.
In the grand scheme of things you may never want to look at another data sheet again (because stats was a straight-up nightmare). But if it means landing a job, sometimes willingness to learn new skills, like coding or research, is necessary. Employers love hearing that you’re eager to try something different, even if it’s a flat-out fib. Who knows? It may open your eyes to something you never thought you’d enjoy doing. Definitely not stats … but something!
‘Giving Me a Million Reasons, About a Million Reasons’
That’s the tune you’ll be singing when you have to justify every decision you make at an agency. This is, however, probably the most valuable thing I learned at SKAR. For every idea that I wanted to share and use for a campaign, I needed to back it up with a rationale.
If all you’re thinking is, “Oh this would be cool,” but you can’t provide valid reasoning, the idea probably isn’t strong enough or it doesn’t relate back to what the client is initially asking for in the project.
If you really love an idea but aren’t sure how to justify it, then by all means, reach out to your creative team and get some insight. The best ideas come from working with a group.
Just remember to justify.
You Never Learned Anything by Talking
This I learned from day one and it held true to my very last day at SKAR.
It is so humbling to be among some brilliant minds with countless years of experience in the ad agency world. That being said, if you’re lucky enough to intern at an advertising agency, there’s a time to share ideas and also many, many, many more times to simply listen, learn and gain incredible insight from SKAR’s vast pool of knowledge. There is always an opportunity to learn on a day-to-day basis at work.
‘Taste Is Subjective’
That’s what SKAR President Joleen David had to say about working with the variety of clients that SKAR has. In one of the articles I wrote this summer – How to Beat Creative Burnout – I covered this tip in more depth.
Overall it’s super important to remember that you may have to rewrite copy or re-concept an idea over and over, even if your first idea was your favorite.
First and foremost, it’s the clients’ opinion that matters. They may want to spell words wrong on an ad, but that’s their choice! Or they may want to use Microsoft Paint for design and photo editing, but if that’s their wish, then so be it! You also have to remember that taking criticism from your clients and even coworkers will only make you stronger and push your creative boundaries.
On reflection, I cannot thank SKAR enough for introducing me to the professional jungle that is an advertising agency. This tight-knit family welcomed me with open arms and with an open seat at the in-house SKAR Bar.
Mixed with the endless flow of snacks, the pitter-patter of office dogs visiting my desk and the vibrant faces of my coworkers, all I can say to SKAR is thank you for every single lesson you taught me.