Internships uncover career path

January 9, 2014 •

Tu Phan, a senior from Centennial, Colorado, who is majoring in advertising and linguistics, shares his experiences with internships and student activities.

Where have you interned and what did you do?

Last summer I was an art director intern at BBDO in San Francisco, 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.

What did you do as an intern at the Community Foundation of Boulder County?

It is, in effect, a community trust. Locals give them money like a community bank and then the foundation gives it back to the community. I was a program intern, so I helped with planning and executing when grants came in and I 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?

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 last summer at BBDO felt more like fun than 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?

In college you are creatively free. I am really involved with the Technology Arts and Media (TAM) program on campus. I love being in that collaborative and creative environment. You are not working for a client, so you can do what you want within your major.

I am in Presidents Leadership Class (PLC), which has been really great. It is automatically a 50-person family as soon as you enter school. PLC helped define my underclassman years; the people I was with always pushed me to succeed.

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

What has your classroom experience been like?

I remember being a timid freshman who was terrified of (faculty) office hours, but as I started going to office hours, my experience in class felt less like a class and more of an open discussion where you get to interact with peers on a critical level.

It is inspiring to see how much attention is focused on student-to-professor and peer-to-peer interactions across all of the colleges on the CU-Boulder campus.