Ask a former intern: Copywriter Courtney Schiffres

It’s that time of year again—internship-hunting season. Recent grads (and students) are looking for real-world experiences to help shape their career paths, and companies are welcoming young talent inside their doors for on-the-job opportunities that benefit both parties. At VSA, we pride our program on its ability to build the professional credentials of college students and recent graduates. Our interns work across branding, design, marketing, and technology on real projects for VSA clients. We aim to teach best practices from teams and mentors while building a professional network in a rapidly growing industry.

As VSA gears up for hiring summer 2016 interns (official internship postings will go live Friday, January 29), we will be publishing a series of Q&As with VSA-interns-turned-employees about their summer stints at the company. Here is what Courtney Schiffres, an alum of our 2015 program, and now a Copywriter, had to say.

What helped you get through some of the more busy days at VSA while you were interning?

Organization and time management is vital no matter what line of work you may be in. It seems pretty obvious, but if you’re not organized in some way, you won’t be able to manage. I also believe confidence in yourself and your work is an important and often overlooked factor when it comes to managing a busy day. You have to make decisions and make them quickly. You also have to know when to ask for help and to make sure you know exactly what is being asked of you. You have to have a strong work ethic. When there is a lot on your plate, expect a long day and night. If it takes all night, then you have to be okay with that. Your team is counting on you, and being willing to do whatever it takes will not go unnoticed. Which leads me to believe passion for what you do is of utmost importance.  

What surprised you the most about your internship with VSA?

A lot of internship programs often partner you with other interns. To me, that can sometimes be problematic. Although you have a feeling of comfort knowing you will be working with someone on your level, you run the risk of stunting your growth. When you are challenged to work with someone more experienced than you are, your potential for growth is exponentially greater. At VSA they don’t separate the interns from the full-time staff. You are fully immersed, and your ability to rise is only limited by the work you put in.

With that said, nothing surprised me more than the confidence and value they put into their interns. A lot of interns are only given bottom-of-the-barrel work, but not at VSA. I was right in there with the best of them proving my worth. I was writing scripts, headlines for major print ads, working side-by-side with the creative directors concepting for new pitches, all while getting invaluable direction. The variety of work, both in difficulty and in range is very unique to VSA.

What made VSA stand out among other agencies you were looking at?

Before I decided to come to VSA, I asked ECD Bob Winter if he would be willing to meet me in person and talk over a cup of coffee. I wanted to find out why he chose to come to VSA when he could work anywhere he wanted. The fact that this incredibly talented and experienced ECD was willing to take the time out of his day to meet with me, made me not only feel special, but made me see that he truly cared. In that short half hour I knew he respected me as a young creative and I knew then VSA would do the same.

VSA also stands apart from other traditional agencies inside and out. They are doing something different and that’s exciting. Starting out as a well-respected design firm to now having a consumer facing ad team makes for something very special. VSA is able to offer clients not just a full spectrum of work, but also helps them from start to finish. It’s an agency that can create the branding and design for a product and then create a smart campaign to sell it. The structure of it makes a lot of sense as the landscape is changing, and I wanted to be somewhere that was paving a new path.

What kind of projects did you work on through your internship?

I worked on pitches for big alcohol and beer brands, large social campaigns for a well-known lifestyle brand, social posts for a national food chain, and I concepted with the creative team for new business.