This summer, IWCO Direct took me and 11 other doe-eyed interns under their wing at the Chanhassen facility. While it was exciting to get a taste of big-kid jobs and corporate America, we quickly realized that we were all clueless on the inner workings of direct marketing. But that tiny, over-looked detail was quickly rectified after a few quick hours of training and the saint-like patience of our supervisors.
“Before starting here I had no clue how much work went into getting someone a piece of direct mail,” Client Services intern Brian Dvorak said. His co-intern, Kayla Ferguson, agrees, “I’m surprised by how much goes into this business and what it takes to function overall as an industry.” Kayla added that she had no idea how many different departments needed to coordinate with each other to ensure that the client gets a perfect product. It’s from this cooperation and workflow that she says she’s “learned a lot about maintaining a strong work ethic and being proactive.”
The intern-experience here is chock-full of delicious nuggets of knowledge, enough that Molly Lilya has come back for three years and Nick Mayer said that he would “most definitely” do it again. We’ve all grown a deep admiration for the Company because we have found that the work we’ve been doing, no matter how menial it sounds—like 3-hole punching reports—was all work that mattered.
During my internship, I was able to assist with marketing projects in a way that didn’t include getting coffee or scheduling oil changes. Instead, I got to edit copy (a lot of fun for an English major) and even write a little bit. I also researched Federal regulations for industry mailings and now can recite the “Prescreened & Opt-out Notice.” Others, like Elliott Gaddis, Grace Deck and Nick Mayer, worked on the United Way fundraiser and learned, as Elliott said it, “the importance of email” and absolute necessity of spreadsheets.
There were plenty of surprises for us interns during our twelve week stint at IWCO Direct. For instance, there has been a lot more Cher sing-alongs than I thought there would be. But, frankly, I consider the harmonizing’s of “If I Could Turn Back Time” as an unexpected office perk. Nick Mitchell, who sits next to me in “the intern cage” (two cubicles with metal frames where walls used to be—not an actual cage), thinks about food more than music when he looks back on his time at IWCO Direct. You know you’re a college kid when your favorite summer memory isn’t designing layouts for major brands, but when you got three free meals in an “epic first week.”
But the draw to IWCO Direct may be as much about the people as it is about the work and Sushi-Wednesday outings. Grace Deck said that she has not met one person at IWCO Direct that she hasn’t liked. Nick Mitchell said that “Working here really motivated me to get going and seize the day. Everyone I met at IWCO Direct seemed to really like what they were doing.” And everyone was very quick to echo Rebekah Saugen’s sentiments when she said, “What I will miss the most is the team that I am on. Everyone is always willing to help answer questions and help out with a problem when it needed to be solved. I couldn’t have asked for better people to work with.”
To keep the water works from going off as we turn in our name badges, I encourage others to think about the things they will miss the least. For Grace Deck it’s “putting together folders…ugh.” Focus on those folders, Grace, and stay strong. Meanwhile, I am going to buy a Cher CD and keep it on repeat.
IWCO Direct 2013 Summer Interns:
- Grace Deck, Human Resources, University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire
- Brian Dvorak, Client Services, University of Minnesota – Twin Cities
- Kayla Ferguson, Client Services, Simpson College
- Elliott Gaddis, Safety, University of Wisconsin – Stout
- Ashley Leone, Marketing, Concordia College
- Molly Lilya, Client Services, University of Minnesota – Twin Cities
- Nick Mayer, Safety, Chanhassen High School (Senior)
- Nick Mitchell, Creative Services, St. Cloud State University
- Rebekah Saugen, Information Technology, Winona State University
- Hillary Serbus, Prepress/Sign-off, Creighton University
- Peter Sparks, Operations, Minnesota State University – Mankato
- Tyler Wood, Prepress/Sign-off, University of Minnesota – Twin Cities
IWCO Direct interns Ashley Leone and Nick Mitchell
Ashley Leone is our 2013 Marketing Intern. Ashley graduated from Concordia College in May and has proven to be a very talented writer and researcher as well as a gifted proofreader.
Nick Mitchell is our 2013 Creative Services Intern. Nick has one semester remaining at St. Cloud State University and has shown his talents designing everything from internal security posters to direct mail formats.
Of course Ashley and Nick’s favorite activities this summer were learning to run the presentation binding machine and constructing many, many, many format mock-ups for our clients.
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