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.
Maitlyn Phan (THF ’17)
Tell us about the Verizon adFellows Program.
Verizon adfellows is a rotational fellowship that aims to improve diversity and inclusion within the marketing and advertising industries by giving new talent the opportunity to work at 4 different companies throughout an 8-month program.
Each adfellow rotates to 3 agencies and 1 brand—in this case, Verizon—and works in various disciplines which range from creative, PR, media, strategy, experiential, etc.
Ultimately, the program is designed to help the industry find diverse talent and passionate individuals break into marketing or advertising. Most fellows end up transitioning into full-time roles at one of the partner companies after the program.
What did a typical day look like for you?
A typical day changed from rotation to rotation since I worked in varying roles throughout the fellowship. Some of my responsibilities included maintaining flow charts in Excel and media planning software, conducting social audits, reviewing creative assets, and managing a social cadence chart for Super Bowl activations.
Other duties included writing social copy, creative brainstorms, conceptual ideation, and working with art directors and designers. Also meetings. Lots of meetings.
Which agencies did you work with as a part of your rotation?
First, I rotated to VM1 where I worked in media strategy for Verizon Wireless. Next, I went to Verizon and worked on social strategy for partnerships and sponsorships. Third, I rotated to mcgarrybowen where I did copywriting for an aerospace brand. And lastly, I went to Accenture and did copywriting for a food brand.
What did your duties include as a Verizon adFellow?
Aside from the daily work or projects our managers assigned to us in our rotations, the duties included working on a team project throughout the fellowship, attending periodic career development sessions, networking and meeting with other professionals at our companies, and representing the adfellows program at occasional events.
What was one of your best experiences as an adFellow?
One of the best experiences I had was during my rotation at mcgarrybowen, a creative advertising agency. While there, the other adfellows and I got to participate in their first ever “creative hackathon,” an intense series of brainstorms and pitches condensed into one eight-hour session.
It was exhausting but also super fun to spitball ideas for one of the agency’s premier clients and create a presentation for the Chief Creative Officer and strategy lead by the end of the night. I met a lot of new people through the process and got inspired by all the creative ideas and strategic thinking that came up. It’d be awesome to participate in another intense brainstorm like that again.
What did you like most about the adfellows program?
The best part about the program was the people, especially the other adfellows. We became each other’s cheerleaders, a support system during any stressful moments, and most importantly, friends. Everyone was truly so kind and inspiring. I’m really grateful to have met, worked, and laughed with my fellow fellows.
What were the most rewarding and challenging parts of your adfellow experience?
One of the most challenging and rewarding parts of adfellows was the team project. We had eight months to work in teams of five on a marketing brief that would incorporate all the things we learned during our rotations.
Though we all received the same brief, each team approached the ask very differently, whether that was through a unique insight, target audience, or campaign idea. For my team (AdAstra), it was challenging to balance big creative thinking and sound strategy while making sure it all aligned with Verizon’s values.
We leaned on our resources at each company to get as much feedback and guidance as we could throughout the program. Ultimately, my team landed on a proposal we were proud of and was distinct from our peers: we were the only ones to tackle B2B.
On presentation day, we took home the Most Impactful and Best Storytelling award for delivering a cohesive, engaging, and empowering pitch on marketing towards female entrepreneurs. It was an amazing accomplishment, especially since we worked so hard to get there.
How has the Verizon AdFellows program made an impact on your career?
It gave me a job. I’m now a Jr. Copywriter at MXM, part of Accenture Interactive doing pretty much the same work I did while there as an adfellow, now with more responsibilities of course—and benefits, (yay retirement plan)!
But the much more meaningful impact adfellows had on me was the confidence I gained in pursuing a career in copywriting. It’s difficult to break into creative without an advertising degree, direct experience, and/or a strong portfolio, but my rotations in copy helped me get my start.
I used to doubt my creative abilities and my ambition to be a writer, but I don’t anymore. Well, at least not as much. There’s still so much growth ahead.
What advice would you give to THF interns as they being summer internships or careers in media?
Be honest about what you know and don’t know. People don’t expect you to be experts, and they want you to ask questions and ask for help when needed because it shows maturity, curiosity, and a desire to do the job well. Also, the media industry is a lot smaller than it seems. Everyone knows everyone so work hard and get to know people!