Errand runners. Coffee grabbers. Copy makers. These labels are everything our Mterns aren’t. With their hands in every department from media to studio, our Mterns have really made their mark this summer. With only a couple of weeks left until these gems leave us, we’re giving each one center stage to learn a bit more.
Courtney is an Mtern, but she spends a great deal of her time working with the brand consultancy, ATOMCK. Confusing? Not for Courtney. She juggles all the balls hit her way and keeps them in the air — effortlessly. She talks with us about her work here at McKinney and ATOMCK, and she gives us a glimpse of her future, where she wants to do great work for important causes. And she throws in a little Eminem, because why not?
You’re an Mtern, but you are working with ATOMCK. What’s it like to live in those two worlds?
It’s a new adventure every day! The variety of my days and weeks has kept me engaged and excited for everything that comes across my desk. Some days ATOMCK needs my full devotion, while other days I’m floating between Mtern meetings, McKinney work and wherever else I can lend myself. I wasn’t sure what it meant to be the ATOMCK intern at first. But the position Alan and I have carved out from the slab of the intern title is creative, purposeful and rewarding.
What’s been your favorite part of being an Mtern? What contributions have you been proudest of?
I’ve loved how respected and valued I am in my role. We aren’t treated like typical interns. Any time we contribute to a project, whether it’s filling in a backgrounder or editing a podcast, we’re openly appreciated. One moment that epitomized this was when Kate (new biz intern) and I created a massive list of YouTube links and pictures for a creative team to use in a mock-up for their idea in a pitch. It took hours to consolidate, but when we made the deadline and the creatives saw it, they called us heroes. And I couldn’t hide my smile.
I’ve also enjoyed the large amount of trust Alan has had in me. ATOMCK has a partnership with Effie Worldwide where we create content about marketers from Effie-winning companies. After the first week of seeing how the content was created, compiled and sent to Effie, Alan gave me the responsibility for the rest of my time here. It was gratifying to be given this project, and I’ve learned so much doing it.
What have you learned that you think will stick with you in your career?
The Effie project has taught me a lot of technical skills like podcast editing, WordPress usage, copywriting and professional communication. But I’ve also learned a lot from all my interactions with people at McKinney, no matter how brief they were. My chats with people in the café or between meetings have given me great insights to the many roles existing in the agency. Before this, I couldn’t tell you what the media team did or how print production worked. Now I understand and am fascinated by the effectiveness and brilliance of all the individuals who bring so much expertise and creativity to their teams.
Advertising can get a little crazy. Has anything caught you by surprise — or even overwhelmed you?
I knew deadlines were a defining characteristic of advertising from the day I started ad classes in college, but I didn’t realize the intensity and addictiveness of them until I experienced and saw a few at McKinney. I learned that everyone views client presentations like an Eminem song. “Lose Yourself,” to be exact:
If you had one shot or one opportunity/ to seize everything you ever wanted/
in one moment, would you capture it or just let it slip?
And that’s what’s riding on the pitch, too — everything. Or at least, what feels like everything. And it’s such an adrenaline rush. You and your team have spent months developing the strategy. You’ve poured your heart into the creative and tried to think of every detail the client might question. You’re prepared. You’re invested. And you’re ready to get that client. Every pitch is THE pitch that matters, and you’re not going to let anything jeopardize it.
It seems like you’ve got the bug. When did you realize you wanted to be in advertising?
It was during a school networking trip to D.C. in college. We sat down for breakfast with an alumna who worked in PR, but most of her work operated on the same channels as advertising — it could be found on bus stop shelters, radio, TV and magazines. She described her work as social risk campaigns. Her clients wanted her to take complex and uncomfortable topics and make them known. It required sensitivity, grit and intelligence to be able to take something like domestic violence in teenage relationships and make creative that was practically helpful and aesthetically engaging. It sounded like she was describing a new age of PSAs to me and I felt such a purpose in the work that I decided it was what I wanted to do. It ignited a new passion for advertising in me and I found other campaigns that resonated with me for similar reasons. I know that throughout my career I’ll work with clients from every industry and gain valuable experiences from each, but I think wherever I land, I’ll always hope to work on campaigns that bring awareness to serious issues and are strengthened by authentic emotion.
In five years, I…
In five years, I want to feel fulfilled. Whether it’s through my job or what I spend my time doing outside of work, I want to feel happy and like I’ve contributed to the betterment of the world in some way. I’d love to achieve both through my profession, and as of now I see that being done through pursuing the creative side of advertising. I want to go to a portfolio school, like the VCU Brandcenter, and learn art direction. I’ve always loved purpose-drive brands and advertising.
Meaningful advertising is the kind I want to create — ads like “No One Gets A Diploma Alone.” I hope to be making a difference in the future.