In her last two years at SMU, TAI student Mae Murrell has interned with three different advertising agencies. Through these experiences she has learned the ins and outs of what agency life is like, including culture, work pace, and the responsibilities of different positions.
Currently, Murrell is working at Johnson & Sekin as their account service intern. She is the only intern at the agency right now, so she has gotten to experience working with many different departments.
“When other departments need a helping hand, I’m there to help!” Murrell said. “So far, I’ve created two months’ worth of social calendars for three clients, scheduled and posted posts to all social media platforms, helped in the development of new brand positioning, creating recap decks for the client that include their analytics data, and pitched ideas for client newsletters. Recently, I’ve been dipping my toes in web development and coding.”
Working at a smaller agency, she has gotten to experience the unique culture that comes along with it.
“So far, I have loved the energy of Johnson & Sekin!” Murrell said. “Working in a small agency is so different than a large agency because you get to know everyone on a much deeper level. There may be less people but there certainly is more personality! Everyone in the office is more than just colleagues, they’re friends. From Halloween pranks to happy hours to ‘mystery jelly bean games,’ Johnson & Sekin employees know how to have fun at work.”
All of her internships have helped Murrell realize what facet of advertising she wants to start a career in once she graduates, which is account service.
“Account service did not fall directly into my lap,” Murrell said. “It took some digging to determine that this is what I wanted to do with my life. I started my internship journey in non-profit, moved to project management, and then did media and account service internships simultaneously at Moroch. There I learned that account service was the right place for me. This internship in account service has solidified that I’m on the right career path!”
This past summer, Murrell worked at Moroch Partners here in Dallas. At Moroch she worked as both an account service intern and a media intern, working on clients like Dickies, Wilsonart, McDonald’s and Six Flags.
“At Moroch, I gained a ton of experience about account service,” Murrell said. “I was thrown straight in to working directly with clients and interacting with them regularly. This was the internship that truly taught me the art of how to work in account service. It does not just take organization skills. It’s a mix of every job: creative, technical, analytical and strategic. It’s necessary to have excellent communication and organization but also understand everyone’s role in the agency so that the campaign process can be carried out effectively and efficiently.”
While Moroch helped her discover her passion for account service, Murrell also had an incredible experience interning with Spill Agency in Paris, France. At Spill, she was a project management intern working with clients like Hermes, Chanel, and Memo Paris.
“[Spill] is an agency for luxury brand clients and focused more on the digital side of advertising. I learned how to get work, get it done efficiently, and make myself useful so that my supervisor’s jobs were made easier. In addition, I did the social media for Hermès, which was really fun! I helped with the new website launch of Chanel and Memo which was a lot of work but extremely rewarding.”
Working in a foreign country, Murrell had to adjust to the differences not only of living in a completely different country but also in the workplace. As the only American working at the agency, she easily noticed that the work environment was very different than that of an American agency.
“One of the [biggest] differences was the pace of the agency in France,” Murrell said. “In America, the norm is to be consumed by work and be busy all the time. In France, they are leisurely about their work and put socializing first. I would go in to the office at 10am and be the first one there! That said, some days I would leave at 9pm and my colleagues would still be working away. The hours are, for the most part, shorter and end once they leave the office. There is no working at home or out of the office. Work stays at work.”
While her time in Paris was an irreplaceable experience for Murrell, it was unforgettable in more than one way. Completing her internship during the fall of 2015, Murrell found herself in Paris during the time of devastating terrorist attacks. Although she could have chosen to leave Paris after the attacks, Murrell stayed feeling it was her duty to help during the city’s time of need.
“Being in Paris during the attacks was a terrifying experience,” Murrell said. “Not just in the sense that I was scared for my safety but also in the sense that I was seeing the destruction of terrorism right before my eyes. After the attacks, people were like ghosts that wandered the streets of Paris. Each person’s eyes filled with sorrow, sadness, and most of all emptiness. Paris was no longer upbeat and exploding with love; the people lulled through the streets. Everyone had a broken heart: from the crying strangers on the streets to my coworkers mourning their friends, everyone was hurting. There were ‘what ifs’ running through everyone’s minds, and thoughts of how easily it could have been us. From it all, there were bonds that were being created among the people of Paris. Everyone was mourning and came together as a strong, united city.”
Although not every moment of her time abroad was as she had imagined, Murrell still regards her internship in Paris as her favorite thus far.
“Getting to work in Paris was a dream come true! I have always wanted to spend some time in Paris, and getting some advertising experience under my belt at the same time was the icing on the cake. Who knows, maybe I could end up there again someday!”