Verizon AdFellows – Alumni Spotlights highlight the success of THF interns with Verizon AdFellows, a Gold Level Diversity Partner and long standing supporter of the Foundation.
Elyse Nganwuchu (THF ’18, 17)
Tell us about the Verizon AdFellows Program.
The Verizon AdFellows Program is an eight month immersive fellowship into Verizon’s agency marketing ecosystem. The Fellowship expands across multiple leading agencies in the advertising industry, each owning and leading a piece of Verizon’s billion dollar marketing business.
The program strives to increase diversity of thought in the industry in a multitude of disciplines. It allows participants at all levels from all backgrounds all over the country to gain hands on experience in the track of their choice throughout the program within the advertising industry.
What did a typical day look like for you?
A typical day as an adfellow consisted of immersing myself in my respective teams as quickly as possible to truly experience a new role, company, and industry I was interested in. Each rotation welcomed new responsibilities on a day to day basis. Every day was a chance to learn a new skill while continuing to showcase my skill set to a new team.
A typical day in an agency would consist of working with the team to identify what the hot projects/ campaigns for that day were and then laying out what piece of the puzzle I could own to help.
A typical day on the brand side would consist of tracking what ideas we wanted to give to agencies to help execute on. Both were two very different experiences but helpful to understand the importance of the brand/agency ecosystem and ways of working.
Which agencies did you work with as a part of your rotation?
In my fellowship journey I had the opportunity to work with 3 agencies and one Brand. I started off in Rotation 1 at Rauxa, the largest independent woman-owned advertising agency, in production for all things Verizon CRM.
In Rotation 2, I stepped into media analytics to learn the importance of data visualization at Verizon’s Headquarters in Basking Ridge, New Jersey for their Fios business.
In Rotation 3, I had the opportunity to learn about the ad tech space for brands, publishers, and agencies in the product marketing discipline within Integral Ad Science. In my last rotation, I was able to learn the importance of media and paid social At Zenith (VM1) Verizon’s media agency within Publicis.
What did your duties include as a Verizon AdFellow?
As an Adfellow, my duties were multivariable depending on the role and company but included budgeting and allocating projects against their retainer, identifying trends through competitive analysis research, building social campaigns on social media platforms. My duties were a mix of owning some of these projects in addition to supporting wherever necessary.
What was one of your best experiences as an AdFellow?
By far the best experience was being able to present my team’s idea to a real-world challenge Verizon is facing to executives from all of the agency partners. The ability to publicly speak and storytell to individuals who hear pitches all the time was invaluable. It was also great that my team received awards for our idea being the most likely to receive funding and overall best in show. To echo that it was also an honor to receive recognition from my peers by being awarded Most Likely to be CEO out of my cohort.
What did you like most about the AdFellows program?
I’d have to say that I loved the exposure the program provided us with. As an Adfellow our access to projects, networking opportunities, and thought leaders was endless. I was able to truly gain insight into the advertising industry from multiple perspectives.
This was super impactful helping me align my personal and professional goals into a single foreshadowing of what my career trajectory could look like in this industry.
What were the most rewarding and challenging parts of your AdFellow experience?
One of the most challenging experiences as an adfellow was adjusting to a new role every two months. Statistics say that the average person takes roughly six months to fully adjust and excel in a new role. As an Adfellow, you are expected to do the same at a fraction of that time.
However, the most rewarding part of being an Adfellow was the support system I had every step of the way. The program sets you up for success by providing you with a thoughtful manager and buddy within every rotation in addition to a mentor from one of the agency partners for your entire eight month tenure.
Another rewarding part was getting a chance to work with 28 other adfellows who hold some of the most creative minds I have ever encountered. They inspired me and supported me just as much.
How has the Verizon AdFellows program made an impact on your career?
The Verizon adfellows program has impacted my career tremendously by exposing me to an industry that I would not have thought I could break into with such a traditional business background. The program has catapulted me into the intersection of creative, technology, and process for new and innovative digital campaigns, experiences, and brands.
What advice would you give to THF interns as they begin summer internships or careers in media?
My biggest piece of advice would be to be open to experiences and tasks big or small. The way that you execute your responsibilities can aid in your ability to build upon your personal brand early on in your career. An open mind can also aid in helping you align your passion with your skill set for the discipline in media of your choice.
Additionally, it is imperative to use the tools that T.Howard instills in you at orientation in your internship or beginning stages of your career.
The confidence and support from the organization that you receive is truly the best foundation one can receive and it should never be forgotten. Never be afraid to make that lasting impression by being you and confident in your abilities.