I arrived at Firehouse bright-eyed and on the wrong floor. After finding the correct lobby, I was given a tour by Steve, an incredibly welcoming gentleman who I knew looked familiar but could not pinpoint exactly who he was. I’ll blame information overload and the absence of caffeine. Only after a 20 minute tour of Firehouse’s incredible office did I finally muster up the courage to ask, “And what is it you do, Steve?” To which he kindly and laughingly responded, “Oh—I’m the CEO.” *insert Homer Simpson backing into the bushes meme.
Now only one more misstep away from throwing myself down the proverbial fire-pole, I sat at my desk and took in the surroundings of my new home for the summer. Bobbleheads of celebrated employees lined a corner wall, countless agency awards were polished and reverberating excellence, and a mural of Lil’ Wayne equally encouraged and unsettled me from his perch as my next-desk neighbor. The agency’s mantra of “work hard, don’t be a dick’ was written on another wall, reminding me of both my favorite and only-known quote by Conan O’Brien: “Work hard, be really kind, and amazing things will happen to you.” Like all good agencies, Firehouse takes this a step further.
Most palpable in that moment, however, was a sense of the agency’s powerful culture. A culture that is made up of so many unique and talented individuals that it has created a sub-culture of its own. All are welcomed and all are accepted, contingent, of course, on one’s willingness to spontaneously pause work for the ever-present (and incredibly competitively) foosball game.
Having been at Firehouse for only two weeks now, I am even more excited to continue working here. As a strategy intern, I’ve already been given so many exciting opportunities to research new clients and help work on creative briefs. Within the first week, I was pulled into
meetings where I felt welcomed yet often overwhelmed and undeserving to be in such an unfamiliar and real-stakes environment. I’ve learned that while one can excel in academics and think he knows a lot about the advertising industry, learning to put that knowledge into action can be difficult. Thankfully, that’s what internships are for: to find out what you like and don’t like, learn how to tap into the innate and learned abilities one’s been given, and to conquer (at least attempt to) the imposter syndrome that comes with being surrounded by so many experts in their fields.
I thought it appropriate to write myself a strategy brief to help me through this short summer at Firehouse. After all, writing briefs is my job. It consists of asking questions like, ‘What do I want to learn?’ ‘How can I best accomplish my goals?’ and ‘When I leave, how can I make sure my work has made a lasting and positive impact?’ I hope to find these answers along the way, but until then I’ll just keep bettering my strategy skills, improving my foosball game, and working to make Firehouse a Fire-home (had to drop a dad joke in there somewhere).
My first introduction to Firehouse was during an agency tour with Professor Peter Noble. I’m confident that without his and so many other TAI faculty members’ guidance, this summer would look a lot different. Now putting my degree into action, I’m reminded of all the late night group projects and extensive research papers I’ve worked on, and the professors who challenged us to develop our best, most authentic work. Going back to school to complete a master’s degree when most of your friends and peers are starting their careers is daunting, and I had my fair share of second thoughts. However, I distinctly remember walking out of my first class last fall and thinking to myself, “this is exactly where I’m supposed to be.” And that feeling is even more true today.