My name is Dana Westfield and I’m a senior on the Copywriting track. This summer, I’ve been working as an intern in the Marketing and Business Development department at AKF Group, an engineering firm with offices in many metropolitan areas in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions.
A little fun fact about me: I can be extremely indecisive. I’m one of those find-the-menu-on-Yelp-and-weigh-every-single-option-before-you-leave kinds of people. I just know that I change my mind so often that there’s always a good chance that I’ll regret my final decision if I don’t make a mental (or sometimes handwritten) pro/con list.
That being said, I kind of ran into this when it came time to pick a major. I started out as a Math student – which wasn’t the worst, it just wasn’t me anymore. Then, when I realized that Advertising was the right fit, I dipped into every concentration. I was just so interested in all aspects of the industry, that I wanted to understand as much as I could about all the moving pieces.
My quest to become the world’s most mediocre “jack of all trades” was not completely in vain, as I’ve seen that it has made me much more comfortable tackling tasks that aren’t solely writing-related. Oftentimes, marketing professionals don’t focus on one aspect of promotion, unlike our Ad program. So, many of the projects that I’ve worked on at AKF have required me to branch out. Here’s how my experience with the introductory classes have come into play this summer:
In my role, I work with InDesign or Illustrator almost every day. This isn’t my first time using these programs, but I’ve still learned so much. I learned how to troubleshoot and actually save work throughout the process (you know, instead of waiting until it’s time for a snack break). I even learned how to be more patient with myself – visual arts aren’t exactly my forte, but it still took me a while to remember that I shouldn’t expect to be 100% satisfied with my first drafts.
Like oh so many summer interns, I’ve found myself doing a little bit of data entry. You hate to see it, but this is merely one of the duties of the department. Whenever I don’t have a specific assignment to work on, I check in on the firm’s network of clients and contacts through Deltek. Some of these people are former coworkers, collaborators from different companies, or officials from client organizations. But, all of them are potential references or connections that could lead the firm to new projects. This seemingly mundane task has reminded me of the importance of relationships in the working world and maintaining them. You may think that your work speaks for itself, but it never hurts to have another person vouch for it, too.
Because this is my “area of expertise,” I was really hoping to get in some more reps. This internship was yet another reminder to me of the value of taking the time to get a true understanding of what you’re writing about. It’s easy to forget that being the “writing girl” does not make you an expert on whatever subject you’re writing about. To be honest, I had no business thinking this in the first place, as I still don’t know what an HVAC is. Even editing and condensing project descriptions was a challenge, since I didn’t understand enough about the engineering industry to know what details were the most important. But after a few weeks of reading and simplifying so many marketing materials, I got the hang of it. About halfway through, I was able to use my copywriting and editing skills to condense page-long project reports into more friendly, shorter paragraphs.
At the end of the day, I guess this was a roundabout way to say that it’s okay to be a little indecisive. Most of the time, it’s borne from the desire for the most favorable outcome. Whether it’s deciding what to try at a new restaurant or what to do for the rest of your life, there’s no harm in taking a little extra time to choose your right path – as long as it leads you to somewhere you’re proud of.