Student's drive -- 1,300 miles, one way -- leads to 'wonderful' internship

(Editor's note: This is the 14th in a series of stories about students in the Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications completing summer internships.)

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Thanks to a gut feeling, a large dose of determination and a 1,333-mile drive, one Penn State student completed a “wonderful” summer internship.

Lois Brofermaker found out about the position as a digital production intern with Saatchi & Saatchi X nine months ago. At the time, the position in Fayetteville, Arkansas, was an interesting but unlikely landing spot for the senior majoring in advertising/public relations from Emerson, New Jersey.

“I didn’t think much of it at first because it was all the way in Arkansas,” Brofermaker said. “It had everything I wanted in an internship, though, and my parents were really supportive. I just had this gut feeling that it would be good. So, I basically packed up my belongings, left my family behind and headed for one of the coolest workplaces in the world.”

With Saatchi & Saatchi X, Brofermaker focused on digital advertising for Procter & Gamble and Walmart, which is based 26 miles away in Bentonville, Arkansas. She was one of 11 summer interns for the agency in northwest Arkansas, and the only one from the Northeast. Or even north and east of Arkansas.

“We thought we didn’t have a chance, really, for Lois to come here with her heavy digital and marketing skills and some of the things she did from a content perspective,” said Brandon Viveiros, the firm’s digital and media production director and Brofermaker’s supervisor. “Even when she got here and we were doing the onboarding and setting expectations, we made a point again to ask why she wanted to come here.

“She said she was looking for unique opportunities, and hopefully we provided that. At the same time, she joined us during our busy season and we appreciated her creative eye and work ethic. If we needed to get something done creatively and quickly she was able to see through the ask and deliver. She took feedback extremely well. She listened and took notes. Sometimes the pace of the work was quite hectic, but she came here and hit the ground running.”

Brofermaker missed certain things from home, including “greasy diner food” — a somewhat surprising admission for a generally healthy-eating 21-year-old who makes her own lunches. Every day away from home was another day to learn more, though.

Along with digital advertising, Brofermaker was able to work on one of the company’s charitable efforts, and the variety of the internship allowed her to learn about the company’s in-store advertising and shopper-strategy driven approach.

“It was really interesting to learn more about the strategy and thought that goes into all the aspects,” she said. “Every display, every end cap is so well thought out and there’s a reason it exists.”

Helping interns make those connections and positioning them for success represents a big part of the approach for Saatchi & Saatchi X.

Miah Scogin, the company’s talent coordinator who oversees the internship program, said they hope the interns learn about the agency holistically — from interactions with the CEO and COO to other interns. They want interns to know how everyone functions together in order to help them start their career path.

“We’re more of a learning internship. Along with your role, if you want to shadow someone in another area, we encourage that,” Scogin said. “We’re here to support and guide you. Toward the end of the internship, we even sit down and help the interns before they go back to school to make connections with other agencies that are in our network.”

Brofermaker, on track to graduate in May 2019, has used her time at Penn State to put together a strong combination of classroom education and cocurricular experiences. She discovered the power of that combination during her first few weeks at the internship. Her experience in an advertising class that put together online campaigns for a shoe company (Unis Brands, a 3D printed footwear company founded by a Penn State student) was clearly relevant.

“It was a lot like what we’re doing this summer,” she said. “You could see how the information transferred and doing things out of class really drives home what you’ve learned in class.”

This fall, she’ll serve as a social media chair for CommAgency, the student-driven agency based in the Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications. It’s another opportunity for valuable hands-on experience.

Brofermaker’s internship lasted until Aug. 10, just days before the start of the fall semester. She anticipated the drive back home, and to starting classes at Penn State, but she was not in a hurry for the internship to end.

“It’s just so good to be doing and learning something every day,” she said. “That’s what makes it wonderful.”

Last Updated August 30, 2018