Verizon adfellows – Alumni Spotlights highlight the success of THF interns with Verizon AdFellows, a Gold Level Diversity Partner and long standing partner of the Foundation.
Ryan Herrera (THF ’17)
Tell us about the Verizon AdFellows Program.
The Verizon AdFellows program is an 8-month rotational program aimed at improving diversity and inclusion in the marketing and advertising space.
During the program, fellows rotate through different roles across Verizon’s in-house advertising agency and several of their partner agencies.
Throughout the eight months, fellows are presented with skills training, professional development sessions, networking opportunities, and social events that immerse them in the dynamic marketing and advertising industry.
What did a typical day look like for you?
A typical day as a fellow truly varies depending on your role and what type of agency you were placed in. Usually, one starts the day with a series of team meetings to get aligned on the scope of work and incoming projects.
Following this, a fellow may spend their day working on various assignments assigned by their buddy or manager, performing research for their role, working with their AdFellow team on their final presentation for the program, or participating in a workshop to learn about a certain role or team within their respective agency.
Each day provides opportunities to learn and grow from professionals around them while undertaking projects and assignments that actively contribute to the companies they are placed at.
Which agencies did you work with as a part of your rotation?
As part of my rotations through the AdFellows program, I worked at McCann NY, Weber Shandwick, Verizon’s 140 agency office, and R/GA.
What did your duties include as a Verizon AdFellow?
During AdFellows, I was placed in Account Management at McCann, Integrated Media at Weber Shandwick, Photography at Verizon 140, and Copywriting at R/GA.
My duties for each role varied depending on the position, but throughout the program, I performed a lot of competitive analysis, industry research reports, meeting coordination, and asset management.
My positions at Weber Shandwick and R/GA were the most creative, wherein I was able to draft copy for social media content, ideate on creative campaigns, and write pitches to reporters.
What was one of your best experiences as an AdFellow?
One of my favorite experiences as an AdFellow was during my final rotation at R/GA. As part of a program to empower young girls in tech, R/GA invited Girl Scouts from across Manhattan to come in and learn about what it’s like to work at a digital creative agency.
I was able to help facilitate the day’s events and got to speak to a number of R/GA professionals and parents of Girl Scouts about my own experiences in the program. It was an incredibly enjoyable experience where I was able to give back to my community and see how the work we do is able to inspire young girls (and boys) through technology and culture.
What did you like most about the AdFellows program?
What I appreciated most about the AdFellows program was the incredible network I was able to build organically throughout the eight months. As a fellow, you have exposure to some of the top professionals in the industry, so you really have the opportunity to network and connect with talented, supportive individuals that open so many doors.
You become a family with your entire AdFellows class, and even beyond that, the community that is fostered across all of these companies through the countless buddies, mentors, managers, and others truly builds a strong foundation for success and support as one embarks on their path through the industry.
What were the most rewarding and challenging parts of your AdFellow experience?
The most rewarding parts of my AdFellows industry was getting to work on assignments that were more than just busywork, but were actually driving the business forward and making a difference.
At McCann, my role in Account Management in coordinating work and delivery of assets between teams kept everyone aligned and made sure work flowed smoothly through each step of the process. At Weber Shandwick, I was able to write pitches that were sent out to real reporters at some of the best news and lifestyle outlets, and I was able to do real-time tracking of influencer and social media content that shaped Weber’s strategic direction for an entire campaign.
The most challenging part of the experience is getting assimilated into a new role and company every 8 weeks, because just as soon as you feel comfortable in a role, you have to shift gears and start somewhere new. Thankfully, the programming and support system offered by the AdFellows program made these transitions as easy to adjust to as possible.
How has the Verizon AdFellows program made an impact on your career?
Prior to the Verizon AdFellows program, I had little desire to pursue a career in marketing or advertising and truthfully had a misconstrued view of those industries as a whole. After embarking on this journey through the program, I was able to see truly groundbreaking work that yields tangible impacts on society, and I was able to see where I could make a mark on the industry and where I could find my purpose.
I was able to start full-time at Verizon’s 140 agency office upon graduation from the program, and it has been an opportunity beyond what I could have even imagined possible. I am now able to combine my passions for communications, technology, and creativity every day in the work that I do, and I have been fortunate enough to use the skills I learned throughout the program to help Verizon’s evolution into a technology company that is driving the future forward.
What advice would you give to THF interns as they being summer internships or careers in media?
The main advice I would give THF interns as they begin internships and careers is to be open-minded to opportunities that may present themselves. Four years ago I never would have seen myself working at Discovery Channel through the T. Howard Foundation, and even a year ago I would never have believed I would be working full-time for Verizon in advertising.
There are so many doors that are opened in the media and entertainment industry, and it is important to foster those connections with people around you and say yes to any opportunities that present themselves. Be fearless in pursuit of what you want, and support those around you who reciprocate your support and successes.