A Day in the Life of a Summer Intern: PSFK Presentations Can Be ‘Nerve-Wracking’

By Kiran Aditham 

And so, our little summer experiment continues as we pass the mic to those hard-working interns who are toiling away this season at various advertising/marketing companies. Next up to bat is an entry from the nicely named Alex Apple Sullivan, a junior at the University of Virginia who’s currently serving as a consulting intern at PSFK. Here, Sullivan discusses her involvement with the organization’s Future of Retail report.

I was eager to join PSFK as a consulting intern after closely following its innovations and ideas website. My primary task for the summer was to assist in research and work on our third annual Future of Retail report. When all of the report’s preparations were finalized and the presentation day arrived, I was charged with making sure all attendees were identified, given a brief handout of the presentation, and most importantly, could hear…

In a room filled with corporate CMOs and company founders, the consulting team presented the nine trends we identified as defining the future of retail. When the presentation got going and I watched as the thought leaders in attendance were engrossed and voraciously taking notes, I briefly thought we were fooling them – what could they possibly learn from us? Turns out a fair amount.


As my first full-scale presentation in the real world, this was terrifically nerve-wracking. However, I knew that even if no one showed up or the projector didn’t work and the whole ordeal was called off, I could come out of the ultimate experience of my internship having learned a thing or two.  I lied; three:

1. Keep your ear to the ground.  In order to identify trends in the retail sector, we had to search the web far and wide.  And then analyze it.  From there, it is easy to be satisfied with what we have, but as production begins and time passes, life continues to take place and if we stop listening, we may miss something.  A day or two prior to publication of the report, the head of consulting at PSFK was able to use the data we had gathered to identify an additional trend, based on our newest research in combination with established data, because we researchers kept searching and listening.

2. A proactive attitude is key.  Agency employees, an intern’s superiors are not used to having interns and often, knowledge of the company or certain projects is just assumed.  As an intern at a firm without a formal summer internship program, it is so important to proactively seek projects and task, and never stop asking questions.  Your superiors do not know what you know, so if you probe for information, you are likely to learn more and involve yourself in more interesting projects.

3. Be helpful. Bending over backwards to be helpful often leads to you performing menial tasks, but that is OK.  Even though a monkey could probably perform some tasks you do, people will appreciate your hard work.  If you have a genial attitude and attempt to make your employer’s job easier, they will want you involved more often and in a greater capacity.

Overall, being able to get my hands dirty in real client work and see the Future of Retail project throughout its different stages of development was, for lack of a better word, invaluable.  This summer I realized that no matter where my tasks led me, my time was never dubbed unproductive.  Turns out, you cannot make great (or inconsequential) discoveries unless you follow your curiosity.