Ever since I started attending MECA, a career in the advertising industry has seemed like a possibility for me. The adults who talked to me and my peers during my freshman year repeatedly advised us that advertising was a great field to go into because it held a variety of job opportunities. So when I heard about the opportunity to have an internship at an advertising agency called J. Walter Thompson, I was intrigued. The day that Keni Thacker came to MECA, he described a plan for his ‘Young Commodores’ that no one had attempted before; put a diverse group of high schoolers and college students together to create an advertisement campaign. Keni’s comical yet persuasive presentation convinced me to apply, so I got an application, and went through the entire process, hoping I would be chosen.
A few weeks later, I received an email from Keni cementing my status as a Young Commodore. On the first day of the internship, Keni assigned everyone a team to be anpart of, just like in an actual agency. I was put on the creative team, along with a sophomore at MECA and three college students who attended Miami Ad School. For the first few weeks, we were treated to presentations by our mentors from each team who would be guiding us through the campaign creating process. They offered their unique experiences of getting into the industry, and reinforced my beliefs of how lucky I was to be attending a school like MECA and to have this internship. We also got our first project; to create a video about the Young Commodores and what it meant to all of us. Every team had individual parts to work on, and the creatives--along with the production team--filmed the different segments of the video, and did all of the editing. I was able to see the true process of creation, something I would surely be seeing in my future.
The moment that we had all been anxiously waiting for came about midway through the internship. Keni finally announced that the organization we were going to be working for was the Discover Outdoors Foundation, who provide inner-city kids a chance to explore the outdoors. This was the turning point of my time at JWT, and when things started kicking into high gear. We had ‘creative jam sessions’ so to speak, and brainstormed ideas for the commercial, based on the the insights from the Planning and Account Management teams. Our team was assisted by mentors Chris, Tom and Mo, who gave us their professional opinions on our ideas, and told us how to improve them. We sat in on video calls and in-person meetings with the client, and gave them the run down of our ideas, until we all unanimously agreed on one-- Put four kids from the city out in nature, and document their day as they navigated through the outdoors with no electronics, calling it PROJECT [DIS]CONNECT. We wanted to show that the outdoors helped kids connect with themselves, the world and others. Then, it was time for the real production. We mapped out the individual scenes that we thought would look good in the commercial and what exact words we wanted to say to try to convey our story and our message. We brought these concepts to life when my team went to the filming location. I was not there to help direct, but I was able to look at all the shots and takes that we got, and determine which ones would be best for the five videos we decided to make (One for the entire experience, and four extras to focus on the unique perspectives of each actor) and decide on the music choices. By the end, we tied everything all together, and showcased our final deck, complete with our five videos for the client.
During my time at JWT, I learned so many important skills and lessons. I got to follow the ad campaigning process, and see what it entails. I also was able to see what a proper advertising presentation looked like, not just looking at the examples I saw in my Intro to Advertising and Visual Thinking I classes. On a more personal note, this internship helped me get in touch with myself. Before I was a Young Commodore, I never felt like a creative person. I always thought that everyone’s artistic skills surpassed mine, and It wasn’t until I started working with the creative team that I channeled my inner creativity. It was also at JWT where one of the college students in my team helped me figure out that I might possibly want to be a copywriter when I’m older. Additionally, the mentors helped me realize that sometimes life doesn’t work out the way you want it to, and you can be taken to unexpected places, but you have to make the most of it.
Being a Young Commodore was an amazing experience. I was able to learn insights about the advertising world, and put that back into everything I did at school, whether it was an advertising competition, or just a simple class presentation. This internship at JWT helped me make new friends and also network with professionals in the industry, which will definitely help advance my career. This internship gave me something to brag about during my freshman year (and currently as well), and put on my resume, so I can get more jobs like this one. All in all, I am extremely grateful for the opportunity Keni Thacker provided me with, and I hope I get to work with the Young Commodores again.
Here is the video "Project [Dis}Connect by the JWT Young Commodores, Spring 2017
JORDAN CRAYTON is a 15 year-old sophomore at Manhattan Early College School for Advertising and is working towards a career in Copywriting. Jordan has recently taken introductory courses in advertising and graphic design, and puts this knowledge and experience into connecting people with advertisements. During her freshman year, Jordan landed an internship at J. Walter Thompson working with Keni Thacker as a Young Commodore, won the 2017 4A’s ReACT competition with her team and participated in a Museum of Art in Design intensive, acting as a tour guide. Jordan is currently taking classes at Borough of Manhattan Community College as a part of her high school’s curriculum.