Considering a Marketing & Advertising Internship? Boathouse Group Goes Above and Beyond

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This past summer, I had the good fortune of working as an account management intern at Boathouse Group – an independent, full-service marketing agency just outside of Boston. Upon returning to campus and discussing summer experiences with peers and professors, I often had the opportunity to answer the question: “What made the Boathouse Group experience so rewarding?” My shorthand answer is this: The company culture and values, the structure of the internship program, and the accessibility of knowledgeable professionals. Luckily, I have this platform to expand on my answer and (I hope) do justice to my exceptional experience at Boathouse.

Boathouse Company Culture

Behind founding partners Chris Boland and John Connors III, Boathouse has built an excellent reputation and has created a vibrant company culture – something I could feel the moment I walked in. The more time I spent with the company, the more my appreciation grew.

My months at Boathouse were everything I could have asked for in an internship experience. Each department in the agency was staffed by talented professionals – eager to take time to answer any questions about marketing strategy and tactics.

The tasks we were given aimed to challenge us and push us outside of our comfort zones – but not to overwhelm us. Best of all, the work that we were doing made tangible and relevant contributions to the company. Cameron Mize, Gregory Hennrikus, and Kathryn Shute (our intern managers) worked hard to ensure that our time was fulfilling and productive. They constantly asked us for feedback, and they modified the program to better achieve our goals. These outstanding supervisors treated each intern like a full-time employee, holding us to the same expectations as the rest of the company.

Although plenty of work was done during the internship, we also found time for fun – whether it was attending a Red Sox game, spending a day volunteering, or organizing a companywide social gathering.

Boathouse Internship Structure

The structure of the Boathouse program was different from those at other companies I considered. Here, the program consisted of two main areas of focus: Department work and an integrated campaign challenge. I learned from experienced professionals, and through hands-on campaign experience, created tangible value for the agency.

The department work provided me with direct experience in the firm's media department (online and offline), its creative department, and its strategy and research department – along with my focus in account management. Boathouse paired each intern with a mentor whose experience matched the students’ interest area. I found this exposure to be eye-opening as I learned the nuances of account management by participating both in internal meetings (with my account management team) and in external meetings with clients. [Clients included MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology), MEFA (Massachusetts Educational Financing Authority), and others.]

For the campaign challenge, we (the interns) were split into two teams. Working with the agency departments, we were tasked with creating our own agency (name, logo, mission, etc.) and developing an integrated marketing campaign for a Boathouse client. Throughout the process, we interfaced with the company’s owner to ensure that we not only satisfied, but exceeded, her expectations. At the end of the internship, we presented to Boathouse executives and to the client company to determine which team would have their campaign implemented. I am proud to say that my team won this pitch.

Additionally, I participated in fundraising for Small Can Be Big, a charity organization established by Boathouse to connect low-income families with donors matched to their specific needs.

Many people have advised me to attain a wide base of experiences early in my career – and the Boathouse program offered an opportunity to do just that. I found it gratifying that my contributions were both encouraged and rewarded.

Executive Accessibility

Perhaps the most impressive aspect of the Boathouse Group was the accessibility of its top executives. How many CEO's make time to interact with their summer interns? The Boathouse founders made time for us – discussing the internship, their own career paths, our personal goals, and issues in the marketing and advertising industry. Their advice stuck with me, including key points that I think about every day:

  1. Be an active listener. Don't just “wait to talk”.
    • Too many people are caught up in their own ideas or hearing their own voice that they miss the important opinions and perspectives that others can offer. Don't make this mistake. Always give the speaker your full attention.
  2. Be curious. Don't give up until you find the answer.
    • Many people are willing to settle for an answer that doesn't truly satisfy the question. It is important to be relentlessly curious – in both business and personal settings. 
  3. Tenacity will take you far. Don't take no for an answer.
    • If you truly believe in something and want it badly enough, keep fighting for it. Many people are discouraged by failure – and settle for something less-than-optimal. Hard work, positivity, and persistence are keys to success.

Overall, my time at Boathouse was fulfilling as I enjoyed coming in to work and immersing myself in the marketing and advertising industry. It was rewarding to make an immediate impact on current client projects – a pleasure that is often not experienced by summer interns at other marketing and advertising agencies.

My experience was augmented by a great group of fellow interns who challenged me and stimulated me each and every day. I am a better teammate and a more effective communicator because of them. I would be remiss if I did not thank them and to express my gratitude to the following people: John Connors, Chris Boland, Fred Criniti, Cameron Mize, Nate Moulter, Gregory Hennrikus, Kathryn Shute, and everyone else at Boathouse. You all made my Boathouse internship a rewarding introduction to the marketing profession.

 

"Nobody goes there anymore. It's too crowded"

 This photo was taken at Ek' Balam -- Ancient Mayan ruins located outside of Valladolid.

This photo was taken at Ek' Balam -- Ancient Mayan ruins located outside of Valladolid.

In the Fall of 2016, I spent about five months living Copenhagen, Denmark, while studying at the Copenhagen Business School. During this time, I made a point of traveling as much as I could — eager to view "culture" through as many lenses as possible. While I was blessed to be able to share these adventures with several friends who were also studying in Copenhagen, part of me could not shake the feeling that I should have done more traveling alone. After reflecting on my experiences for a couple of months, I decided to set a goal for myself:

Starting in 2017, I will visit one of the Seven (new) Wonders of the World each year, for the next seven years. They are as follows:

  1. Great Wall of China (China)
  2. Christ the Redeemer (Brazil)
  3. Machu Picchu (Peru)
  4. Chichen Itzá (Mexico)
  5. The Colosseum (Italy)
  6. Taj Mahal (India)
  7. Petra (Jordan)

The day after my summer internship ended on August 4th, I took a flight into Cancun, Mexico. A step into the mystery. Given that I do not speak any Spanish, I was slightly apprehensive to be traveling alone at first. This apprehension soon evaporated, however, and was replaced with excitement and wonderment. After clearing customs, I immediately took a bus into the center of Yucatán, stopping in the small colonial Mexican city of Valladolid. Here, I was taken by the relaxed pace of life, the strong sense of community, and the overall lack of other tourists. While in Valladolid, I made an effort to gain as much knowledge from the locals about places to go and things to do (the language barrier made this easier said than done). I was shocked by how many of them attempted to convince me not to visit Chichen Itza, citing that it is too crowded with tourists, too expensive, etc. However, after staying for a day-and-a-half, I decided that I could not let myself be deterred.  After all, a memorable Yogi Berra quote rings true — "Nobody goes there anymore. It's too crowded". 

After Chichen Itza, I boarded a bus to Mérida, a larger city on the western side of the Yucatan Peninsula. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Mérida was one of the wealthiest cities in the entire world — largely due to the production of henequen, a material used to make rope. The old wealth of the city is still readily visible today, and makes for great walking around. Additionally, there is a highly renowned anthropology museum located in Mérida on Paseo de Montejo (one of the most famous streets in the city). I made a point of spending about two hours there, taking in as much information about Yucatan culture as I possibly could. 

Overall, I would consider my first solo trip to have been a great success. It was certainly a different experience than traveling with companions. It forced me to rely on myself and interact with those around me in order to achieve the things I wanted to get done. While this was just the first of the Seven Wonders for me, I am counting down the days until I inevitably come back.

*As a side note, I was particularly inspired by Rolf Potts' book titled "Vagabonding". I would highly recommend it to any aspiring traveller, especially if traveling alone.

 

Anthropology of the Superbowl

Three weeks following this nation’s divisive presidential election, millions of Americans set aside political differences and embraced something that offered a different kind of meaning: Super Bowl football. One of America’s largest annual social events, the Super Bowl unites people (with different political, religious, and economic viewpoints) to cheer on the team that’s linked to a personal identify they somehow can share. Banding together, this unlikely alliance supports their football team and practices the “rituals” that accompany membership in this community. 

As a student of anthropology  I took on an ethnography project — participating in field studies to analyze the social behaviors of college football fans. Over the course of a semester, I researched fan behaviors at both pre-game (during tailgate gatherings) events and during the games themselves. While I consider myself to be a pretty knowledgeable football fan, I soon discovered that I had a lot to learn about the meaning behind the social behaviors that sports enthusiasts (myself included) engage in. And the more I studied the more I wondered: Why do millions of Americans engage in the curious (and sometimes bizarre) gameday rituals for sports events? 

I'm now looking for ways to apply these research methods to challenges in marketing and communications. Stay tuned for more on this interesting topic!