Padilla NEXTernships: Q&A with Alums

Padilla NEXTerns, the agency’s summer internship program, offers college students and recent grads opportunities in account service, brand, PR and creative tracks. As we quickly approach the deadline (Tuesday, March 10!) for 2020 NEXTerns applications, we thought it would be fun to sit down with a few of our program alums who landed full-time gigs at the agency following their NEXTernships.

Meet the team:

Carson Creehan, assistant account executive, Padilla

Jack Parker, project coordinator, SMS Research Advisors

Katie Hill, assistant account executive, Padilla

Olivia Decelles, associate producer, Padilla

What tips would you share with students hoping to land a summer internship?

Carson: If you find an organization you’re interested in, reach out to people at that company for an informational interview to learn more about their work and the company. This will help you determine if their internship program could be the right fit for you.

Katie: Begin with researching agencies to establish an understanding for the work. Before I started researching, I had no idea the breadth of industries at Padilla – from manufacturing, to food & beverage, health, agriculture, consumer – the list goes on. Become familiar with them so you can truly dive into why you want to intern at a specific agency.

Olivia: It’s important to be proactive and not afraid to reach out or follow-up. Sometimes just sending an email to reiterate how excited you are for the internship can make you stand out and land you the job.

What makes the NEXTerns program unique?

Jack: I thought the fact that it was branded, not just another “internship,” showed me that Padilla was really invested in students and recent grads– that it wasn’t just going to be a stereotypical internship (i.e., doing the ‘dirty work’). Right away, we were treated like employees; I was brought in on conference calls, meetings, etc. and was fully immersed in the day to day activities. Even though I was brand new and a recent grad, I wasn’t made to feel that way. Meetings with HR to check in on how we’re doing, along with other fun activities led by the NEXTerns, made us feel cared about.

Katie: It’s not fluff! It’s a fully integrated internship where you will genuinely feel like a part of the team and where you will get your hands on very real and important client work. As a NEXTern, I was given so many opportunities to try things outside of my job description and that’s because my supervisor and mentors wanted me to learn everything I possibly could during my time at Padilla. If you raise your hand or voice an opinion, people will listen and that’s an incredibly important way for young professionals to learn their value on a team.

Olivia: It allows interns to learn about all aspects of Padilla. And since Padilla is a communication firm with various sister companies, there are so many different areas to learn about – including SMS Research, PR strategy, crisis communication, Joe Smith branding and full-service creative. The NEXTern program encourages you to learn more about these areas and discover what you find most interesting.

What did you enjoy most about your NEXTernship?

Jack: The fact that I learned so much so quickly. Week by week I could really see myself growing and becoming a lot more comfortable with agency work. I was given tasks and trusted by my supervisor to do things on my own. At the same time, I loved that I was still being taught and my supervisor took time out of their day to help me along. On top of that, I enjoyed coming into the office every day and participating in the various activities planned.

Katie: The people! I’ve built important relationships within this agency that will last the rest of my career. Padilla is full of go-getters, thought leaders, individuals who are always striving for more and finding new ways to challenge the work this agency does, and without them, Padilla and the NEXTern experience wouldn’t be what it is. Padilla cultivates a culture of learning, growth and support, and as a young professional at the start of my career, I’m very grateful to be surrounded by individuals who support these endeavors.

If you could go back to your first day as a NEXTern, what advice would you give yourself?

Carson: I would tell myself to be patient. There is a lot of new information and new systems to learn. As much as I wanted to know everything right away, that’s just not possible. I would remind myself that it’s all a process and that it takes time – and that’s OK. 

Jack: I’d say, “relax.” It is a really nerve-wracking experience to start something so new, especially when you just graduated and are not going back to school in the fall. Once I was comfortable and relaxed, I was able to take in everything around me.

What has been your favorite project at the agency?

Carson: My favorite project was coordinating a Town Hall event for one of our clients. They had hundreds of employees at multiple sites. My team and I brainstormed and executed the activities and made sure the day went smoothly. It was a big event, and it took a lot of planning, but it was fun and very rewarding.

Jack: I really enjoy the health care work I’ve done, and we do a lot on the research side. I was actually going to go down a health care path and decided to opt out. So, it’s fun to still have a hand in the health care field. But overall, anything to do with the University of Minnesota is my favorite because I love the U of M, so I love doing research to help advance the school or anything they’re connected with.

Katie: Only six months into my career, I worked on the Super Bowl ad campaign for client Avocados From Mexico which was an amazing opportunity. It was incredible because I got to see the work come to fruition on a unique and challenging stage, and it was exciting to share that accomplishment with friends and family.

Has anything surprised you moving from your NEXTernship to full-time career at the agency?

Carson: Transitioning from NEXTern to full-time employee has been relatively seamless. I have my amazing team to thank for that. One thing that amazes me is how far I’ve come and how much I’ve learned from being a NEXTern to where I am now.

Olivia: I was surprised to see that my learning didn’t stop after my internship and I’m still working toward goals and being encouraged to find what I’m passionate about and to learn new things every day.

Related Posts: Q&A with NEXTerns Alums Q&A with Padilla’s First Class of NEXTerns 9 Ways to Engage Summer Interns – and Identify Great Talent From Class of 2018 to NEXTerns Making it in the Real World Starts Before Graduation Parker’s Predictions, A Decade Later