From the intern’s (virtual) desk: Gaining real-life experience in a pandemic

Elly McKenna '22 developed career readiness skills not only at ad agency, but also through study abroad, two majors and a minor

March 25, 2021
By Elly McKenna '22

Jerry Swope, Chair and Associate Professor in the Media Studies, Journalism and Digital Arts Department (MJD) shared a piece written by Elly McKenna ’22 with the Career Education Center. Elly writes about her fall 2020 internship experience with HMC Advertising in Richmond, VT. She is a double major in MJD and Spanish with a minor in business and is currently studying abroad in Seville, Spain. She will likely return to intern with HMC when she is back in Vermont. With her experience interning, studying abroad and extensive involvement across campus, Elly is developing her Career Readiness Skills as she approaches graduation next year. She writes:


Elly McKenna ’22

In a field where interpersonal relations are paramount for professional success, HMC Advertising leveraged the challenges of 2020 to put the needs of their clients first. The smooth transition to digital platforms for communication and marketing development left projects completed and goals accomplished. With steadfast leadership during these uncertain times, HMC demonstrated a vested interest in their clients and employees.

I was fortunate enough to take part in and witness firsthand the positive impact HMC had on Vermont communities and businesses throughout a fall 2020 internship with the agency. As an undergraduate college student studying communications and business, working alongside team members of an advertising agency is an invaluable experience. When the COVID-19 pandemic caused a national shutdown and college students were sent home packing, I spent most of my time trying to figure out what I could do to progress my academic and professional interests.

Navigating the job market during a pandemic as a student was an overwhelming task, until I connected with Sara Moses, Marketing Team Lead at HMC. I was afforded the latitude to contribute to ongoing advertising projects, campaigns, and brand developments while also focusing on my coursework. This pertinent experiential learning supplemented my ongoing classes and taught me marketing, research, and business strategy skills, not only applicable to my work within the agency but also to my studies at Saint Michael’s College.

Responsible for tasks such as competitive analysis, social media management, and marketing and communications planning, I was given assignments that required close attention to detail and time management. In addition to my personal schoolwork, internship responsibilities such as meeting deadlines, participating in team meetings, and providing feedback left me with a true, business sense of certainty in extremely uncertain times.

At HMC, I learned firsthand that despite unpredictable and sometimes unfavorable obstacles such as COVID-19, working remotely, and limited travel, carefully considered and creatively planned work can still thrive. Efforts of going the extra mile are what set a business apart, and they do not go unnoticed. I have been impressed with the internal communication and teamwork amongst employees and the agency’s successes in working toward shared goals. Interning this past fall has progressed my interest in the advertising field and provided me with a very beneficial hands-on learning experience for which I am very thankful. HMC fostered consistency and unabating support during unprecedented times.

While I had specific roles for the company’s projects and clients, I always felt fully immersed and included within each department while simultaneously challenged to rise to any given occasion. I am extremely grateful to have learned, contributed, and to better understand the big picture of the company’s mission of “focusing on work that really matters,” and I look forward to maintaining the relationships I’ve made thus far!

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