First Day of Cool

  • Categories:

    Agency Life

  • Date:

    June 10, 2015

First Day of Cool



Agency Life

Asheville native Josiah Goodrum is a rising college senior majoring in marketing at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. He's spending part of his summer with our creative team, soaking up their knowledge and doing a little creating of his own. We asked him to share a bit about why he's interested in our business and what he hopes to learn. Later this summer, he'll write a second post with his reflections. 

We're glad to have you, Josiah. Best of luck with whatever's next!

Songwriting and Mad Men

I came to copywriting via my dream of becoming a songwriter.

After an uninspired internship at a financial advising firm, I did what many 20-year-olds with a lick of musical talent do: I decided to write music. But my songwriting career lasted about as long as my career in the financial services industry. I penned three songs and played one open mic session at the Evening Muse before I realized songwriting probably wasn’t the best career choice if I ever wanted to get married.

Around the same time that I shelved my dream of becoming the next Bob Dylan (I still pluck around on my guitar and wouldn’t mind accidentally writing a big hit someday), I’d made it about midway through the first season of “Mad Men.” It dawned on me shortly after Peggy Olson became a junior copywriter that writing copy is similar to songwriting, a major difference being one comes with regular paychecks and health insurance (I’ve been told you need that). Yet like songwriting, copywriting also taps into human emotion. I had to give it a try.

Copy and a Cup of Coffee

A few months later, I was meeting with Wray Ward’s Copy Director Scott Ellmaker at my favorite coffee shop, The Daily Press. The shop is my go-to for caffeine jolts and important conversations. Lindsey, the owner, makes arguably the best coffee in town, and I thought that at the very least, Scott would leave thinking I had good taste.

I had no idea what to expect, so I wore a gray blazer, slacks, a button-up shirt and—in Mad Men fashion—a pocket square. I arrived early, anxious to hear what Scott had to say. The veteran’s humble demeanor immediately put me at ease.

As the steam rose from our mason jar mugs, Scott fielded my questions and talked about his first experience with The Creative Circus, where he honed his creative process and built his portfolio. He went on to talk about a typical day at Wray Ward—from participating in ideation sessions to taking single, persuasive ideas and transforming them into sellable copy.

As the caffeine kicked in, so did my courage, and I asked Scott how I could become an intern.

Before I knew it, my first day had arrived. I danced like a giddy schoolboy to “Uptown Funk” on my drive to the coolest office in Charlotte.

Free to Be Me

On my first day, I knew I’d struck gold. Instead of being shown how to fill the paper tray in the printer or how to stock the fridge the way the boss man likes it, I sat in on a meeting with the copy director and the executive creative director. I got the opportunity to blog about my first day and think of ideas for a new product. Already I’d been put to work in a meaningful way, work that I could actually take ownership of.

The overall atmosphere at Wray Ward seems to be everything a millennial job seeker could ask for: a friendly place with a lot of creative people doing excellent work. I was only about two-thirds of the way through my first day when I realized I could have a successful career here. Even as an intern, I feel respected and free to be the creative person that I am. Compared to moving boxes, sharpening pencils and licking envelopes, Wray Ward’s internship is, to use my generation’s vernacular, “on point.”

What’s Next?

Like most 21-year-olds, I have no clue what I’m doing. There is no magic crystal ball or treasure map to show wandering youths like me where to go or what to do next; it took a lot of trial and error for me come up with something I enjoy that can also convince my future in-laws I’m the one—#truestory.

I don’t know where this internship will lead, but after going to my first brief, writing my first blog post and thinking of new ideas uninhibited by the feeling of a gnarled old school teacher looking over my shoulder, I know that I’ll at least learn a lot at Wray Ward. I look forward to soaking up knowledge about the advertising world and, hopefully, building an impressive portfolio for potential employers.

No matter what, I’m excited to see what the rest of the summer has in store for me at 900 Baxter Street.