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Tu Phan


Tu Phan
Senior, Advertising and Linguistics
Hometown: Centennial, CO

You have had several internships – tell me about them?
Last summer, I was an art director intern at BBDO, the world’s most awarded advertising agency.  My job was to come up with ideas for advertising concepts for digital, print, and TV mediums.  It was a great experience; I got to work on global brands like Visa, HP and Mars. For one of our projects we broke a world record at an event in New York for the most children cooking with their parents.  It was for Uncle Ben’s Rice, and we were focused on early childhood education and educating families about cooking and healthy eating options.  I helped concept the idea, designed most of the collateral materials and signage for the event, decided what the experience would be like, and picked the venue. 

I also interned at the Community Foundation of Boulder County, which is, in effect, a community trust. Locals give them money like a community bank and then they give it back to the community.  I was a program intern, so I helped with planning and executing when grants came in and got to see how money is invested.  You don’t realize how special Boulder is until you get involved in the community, government and entrepreneurial scene.  

What was your favorite part about interning?
The best part about my internships is that they have focused me on what I want to do with my life.  Internships are an exploratory process that have helped me find what I like and what I don’t.  My internship this summer at BBDO felt more like fun than like work, even though we worked really long days.  When you find a career you are passionate about, it is a sense of relief and you can go full steam ahead – that’s the beauty of internships and college.

What else are you involved in as a student – clubs, orgs, intramurals, etc?
I am really involved with the Technology Arts and Media (TAM) program on campus, it is one of my minors, but I love being in that collaborative and creative environment.  It is true when they say that college is a time to take chances and be creative.  You are not working for a client, so you can do what you want within your major.  In college you are creatively free.

I am also in Presidents Leadership Class (PLC), which has been really great.  It was automatically a 50 person family as soon as you enter school.  You go on an orientation trip in the mountains and have no technology, so you get to really connect with people.  PLC helped define my underclassman years; the people I was with always pushed me to succeed. Many of the opportunities I have had while at CU have stemmed from PLC and its extensive alumni network.

I was also involved with the Colorado Engineer, which is a student run magazine with faculty advising that is based in the School of Engineering.  We published full magazines quarterly of professional quality.  I acted as the managing editor and led the publication redesign and launch of its web presence.

What has your classroom experience been?
Some of my best friendships I have had are with professors.  I remember being a timid freshman who was terrified of office hours, but as I started going to office hours, my experience in class felt less like a class, but more of an open discussion where you get to interact with peers on a critical level.  You have to show up and be present and think of things in a critical manner, which is what college is for. It is inspiring to see how much attention is focused on student/professor and peer to peer interactions across all of the schools on the Boulder campus.  Even in pre-professional classes, with adjuncts from industry, the one-on-one attention you get is second to none.


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