From Chaos to Connection: How COVID-19 Led Me to an Internship of a Lifetime

  • Categories:

    Agency Life, Inspiration

  • Date:

    June 10, 2021

From Chaos to Connection: How COVID-19 Led Me to an Internship of a Lifetime

Agency Life Inspiration

Just like that, school is over. I have a college degree, and now, I have to adult and find a real job. Thankfully, Wray Ward is helping me transition from recent college graduate to rising public relations professional quite seamlessly.

In January, as I perused another near-daily mass communication department email, I didn’t expect to find an internship that pertained to my interests, let alone one that allows its interns to work with a real client.

The email subject line read “Summer 2021 Internships.” I remember mentally dismissing the message because the internships in these emails never excited me. I also remember panicking at the thought of life in Summer 2021, because I had zero plans after graduation. Plus, trying to make major life decisions during a pandemic? Not really on my to-do list.

As I scrolled through the email, I noticed Wray Ward’s FORM internship at the bottom of the list. The application information included a link to content celebrating Wray Ward’s new office. I took one look at the office post, the agency site and the FORM site, and suddenly I was googling all things Wray Ward for the next hour.

When I revisited FORM, I considered applying for the copywriting position. In college, I majored in mass communication with a concentration in print journalism. I also worked for my university’s newspaper for three years, so writing was not new to me. But I decided to step out of my comfort zone and apply for the public relations/content role.

It’s been one of my favorite decisions to date.

Week One: A New Journey

My first week at the Wray Ward office was thrilling. COVID-19 has created so much chaos and uncertainty over the last year that getting to collaborate in person and get real-world experience (finally!) is extremely rewarding.

We met so many new faces and learned so much new and significant information that, in truth, the first couple of days were also a bit scary. New city, new living space, new people, new environment, well … you get the idea.

Despite all of this, the positive environment of the office and everyone’s welcoming attitude helped me adjust. Within the first five days, I gained so much new knowledge, from jargon (programmatic data) to social media lessons (When in doubt, leave it out!).

One term I kept hearing over and over again during my first week at the office was “family.” Almost every team member (if not every team member) said it in some way, shape or form, and they practice what they preach. After all, they welcomed a bunch of interns with open arms and shared laughs, smiles, hugs and even lunch outings with us.

It was authentic. It was real. I value collaboration, especially in the workplace, and Wray Ward showed me what it really means within my first few days here.

FORMing Connections

In addition to learning about the employees here, I was interested in hearing about the other interns' goals for the summer as well as coming up with a fun way to get to know them better. Since Wray Ward specializes in all things home, I asked my teammates to choose one home item (a room, product, etc.) that best describes their expectations for this summer’s FORM experience.

Mitch Wolverton, Digital Media Intern: Coffeepot

“It is a metaphor for what I want to learn throughout the summer,” said Mitch. “If I want to learn the greater details of Wray Ward and how the agency is run, I will make a full pot of coffee. If I want to learn more specifically about my role as a digital media intern, I will just make a single cup.”

Mitch described his goals as learning about the agency as a whole and understanding collaborative work. “I want to learn everything I can about my role and my division’s role within the company, down to the little details.”

Nina Procopio, Copywriting Intern: Succulent Plant

“Just like a succulent plant, I think that my FORM experience here at Wray Ward will result in much growth,” said Nina. “With the help and advice of other employees and mentors, I hope to take this new knowledge and grow in my personal life and career.”

Nina also looks forward to gaining real-world experience and understanding more about the marketing industry. “Wray Ward is filled with many knowledgeable and experienced people. By learning from those around me, I will expand my knowledge as much as possible.”

Eli Hausman, Photography Intern: Garage

“[A garage] is a place full of random and sometimes unrelated things, but a place that is historically known for giving rise to incredible ideas,” said Eli. “That is what this program is all about: taking nine people with different experiences and skill sets and putting them together to make something extraordinary happen.”

Sarah Mobley, Project Management Intern: Mixer

“Different areas of knowledge will be the ingredients poured into my bowl (brain), and I will blend them together to create a wonderful dish (product),” said Sarah.

Sarah also hopes to learn how to successfully organize a project and work with a team. “I want to support my teammates in any way to help us all achieve a successful outcome for our client. I also hope to improve my client engagement skills and learn how to develop and nurture a relationship with them.”

Kyra Arendt, Videography Intern: Power Sander

“Sanders are used to clean and polish surfaces,” said Kyra. Similarly, FORM will help smooth the rough edges of my baseline video skills.” She also hopes to gain more experience in creative collaboration while creating some professional-level video content.

Marina Gianakopoulos, UX Design Intern: Water Filter

“My FORM experience will resemble a water filter, as my work will become refined through learning from my superiors and peers, and through the iterative design process and sprints,” said Marina. She aims to expand her knowledge of UX design and apply it to real-world projects, collaborating with different disciplines to solve complex business problems.

Brooke Spencer, Insights Intern: Living Room

“Living rooms are usually the center of the activity of a home. People gather in the living room to hang out and to talk,” said Brooke. “I think being with FORM and the Wray Ward family is much like being in a living room. Everyone at Wray Ward goes out of their way to make you feel welcomed, and there are always conversations with new people to be had.”

Brooke said she wants to become a better collaborator and communicator in a professional environment. “I would like to become more proficient as an insights specialist and gain new skills related to that area of marketing. Lastly, I hope to make the most of this summer with my fellow FORM interns as we get to know each other!”

Ida Österman, Graphic Design Intern: Electrical Outlet

“Outlets exist in most rooms in a house and enable me to charge my creative tools, my drawing pad, and my computer,” said Ida. “In a similar way, the outlets represent how I can charge my creativity by collaborating with the different departments at Wray Ward.”

Ida said she wants to learn the most she can about graphic design this summer and adjust to working both in-person and collaboratively again. “Most of my classes the past year have been over Zoom, and virtual learning has been a challenging experience. I am eager to no longer just see black boxes or frozen screens.”

And finally, as for me?

Alyssa Washington, Public Relations/Content Intern: Light Bulb

I would choose a light bulb, because it represents beginnings and new ideas. There will be days when I shine brightly and others when I will be dimmed. Like a light’s necessary role in the home, FORM will serve as an essential experience for my future. I hope to do lots of things in my time with FORM, but here are my top three goals for the summer:

  1. Learn new skills and improve my current ones.
    1. I feel like once you learn a skill, you often don’t continue to improve it. I don’t want to get too comfortable. I want to always view my skills as transferable, not just in certain cases. I want to have confidence in acknowledging skills that may not be seen as favorable to the naked eye in certain spaces.

  2. Push my limits.
    1. I love trying new things (hence why I applied for a PR internship after focusing on print journalism in college), so I definitely want to collaborate with other disciplines both within and outside of my department.

  3. Grow as both a professional and an individual.
    1. I had a professor in college tell me to stop thinking of myself as a student or an amateur and to start marketing myself as an emerging media professional. Since then, I’ve switched my tune and supported my capabilities more openly. By doing numbers one and two listed above and completing my tasks, I will definitely become a better Alyssa along the way.

Thank you, Wray Ward, for changing my life in the space of one week. I can’t wait to grow with my fellow FORMers this summer!

Explore more articles from Wray Ward.