Indiana INTERNnet celebrated internship excellence on February 8, 2017, at the 11th Annual IMPACT Awards Luncheon. Though the event is over and the winners have been announced, we are continuing to celebrate the nominees’ successes.
These are their stories.
Brittany Ulman is a graduate of Ball State University with a bachelor’s degree in creative writing. She completed a marketing internship with International Floral Distributors, Inc.
Indiana INTERNnet: How did you become interested in pursuing your degree?
Brittany Ulman: When I first started at Ball State, I was a dietetics major with the full intention of completing my internship in a hospital and becoming the dietitian in an Intensive Care Unit at a hospital close to my hometown. However, as my freshman year progressed, I evaluated my career choices and contemplated whether I would want to work in an ICU for the rest of my life. I knew I could enter into a less emotional path, such as a school or sports setting, but the only dietetic-related field I wanted to pursue was helping people during one of the most difficult times of their lives. Yet, I was uncertain as to whether I would want to work in a department where my patients were fighting for their lives every moment of every day.
For this reason, I considered other avenues that interested me and could potentially present to be a valid career choice. As part of these considerations, I recalled my time as an English teacher’s assistant during my senior year in high school. During this time, I was assigned the responsibilities of editing students’ papers and grading portions of their tests and quizzes. This task of perusing extended responses—sifting through another individual’s thoughts and opinions—flourished a part of me I had been misinterpreting as being nit-picky, a little too OCD. With this newfound awareness, I realized I enjoyed sorting through misused vocabulary, comma splices, and every other possible grammatical error all just to work with the author and teach them how to improve their writing. All of the emotions associated with this epiphany came rushing back to me as a freshman in college and made me understand what I truly want to do when I grow up.
However, there is not a specific major for editing, so I had to pursue a slightly different—but not entirely—field of study in creative writing. I briefly considered pursuing a general major of English Studies, but quickly decided that the entire creative process of writing was what truly made me want to change my major to an English related field.
IIN: What were your favorite aspects of your internship with International Floral Distributors, Inc.?
Ulman: Even though I had previous experience working as a marketing intern, nearly all of my time at International Floral Distributors, Inc. involved learning something new about marketing, the floral industry, and myself. The close-knit environment in which IFD functions was actually more attuned to what I was used to growing up in a town of a mere 1,000 inhabitants. Throughout high school, I took several classes that only contained a handful of other students; my senior physics class had only three students and my senior accounting class held simply five students. With that being said, the fact that the main IFD office usually contains the Executive Director—and the part-time Administrative Assistant—did not jar me, but actually made me feel as if I were back home. And after taking several classes at Ball State with more than 100 students and one with more than 500 students, I soon realized that I wanted to work for a small company or at least a business that was run with a small company mindset.
When it comes to the work I accomplished while at IFD, the list is extensive and contains more variety than I had anticipated when I first spotted the internship on Indiana INTERNnet. Because of IFD’s location and industry, I figured the workload would closely correlate with that of when I interned at Wayne HealthCare in Greenville, Ohio. However, IFD’s Executive Director, Jeff Lanman, soon showed me that I was going to be wrong on numerous levels.
In one of my blog posts I wrote for Indiana INTERNnet, I reflected on how Mr. Lanman allowed me some time to gather my surroundings and become comfortable with his and the company’s work-ethic, but he did not hesitate to place me in the middle of already begun projects and entirely new projects with little to no parameters. As an intern, it is common conception that your main job will be assisting whoever is your supervisor; this usually entails running for coffee, making umpteenth millions of copies, and maybe answering the phone if your supervisor trusts you enough. Though my past internships did not coincide with this idea, I still went into IFD believing I would be nothing more than a gopher catching a glimpse here and there of real-world marketing strategies being put into play. On the contrary, Mr. Lanman assigned me the task of writing magazine copy, press releases, emails, and the scripts for the Flower Trends Forecast videos that would be released later that year. As the summer progressed, Mr. Lanman did not veer from this path, but instead had me work side-by-side with my co-workers on developing new product and communication strategies for IFD’s vendor partners.
In the end, my portfolio had proliferated both in volume and diversity. Potential employers can now flip through a press release, nine scripts, four copy summaries, 16 new trend summaries, three blog posts, four news articles, content for five new Pinterest pages, an order form, and the marketing material for the SAF Convention amongst other miscellaneous tasks. What I figured would augment my portfolio had actually blossomed into a complete sample work that could stand alone. Ultimately, this is what I enjoyed most about my internship and made the tireless balancing of a full-time internship, two classes, and volunteer work worth the stress in the end. Not only had I developed relationships with my coworkers, learned about a new industry, acquired new skills, and discovered more about myself as an individual, I could also walk away from the experience with concrete evidence of my hard work and contribution. It was if these documents were what verified that I had indeed done something important in the short time I spent at IFD. These documents are also vivid reminders of my internship in terms of my workload and my memories I will forever hold dear to my heart.
IIN: What was the most challenging project you were assigned?
Ulman: Because my internship at IFD involved an entirely foreign world, there were several projects where I found myself more in the grey area than was the norm for me. During my time at Ball State and at my other two internships, I definitely encountered my fair share of learning experiences. Despite this though, it did not take me long to find my comfort zone in all of these moments. At IFD however, the first few weeks it took me more time to acquire the company’s ideas, persona, and goals and translate all of it into the copy I wrote for various projects. Because I had only taken one screenwriting class up to this point in my college career, I did not completely possess the knowledge and skills to concoct scripts that best fit the company’s message and format. Instead, I relied heavily on the skills I developed in my other creative and professional writing classes to complete what proved to be the most challenging project I was assigned during my internship.
In the first round of drafts for the various scripts, I managed to successfully include numerous elements within each style that the trend forecaster, Michael Skaff, illustrated in his report. I also utilized my creative writing skills and sprinkled strong verbs, adjectives, sentence variety, similes, metaphors, alliterations, and other “fancy” grammar tools us writers implement. Despite all of this, I had not quite captured the voice IFD maintained in all of its past marketing correspondence. So, with further examination of IFD’s past documents and some guidance from Mr. Lanman, I began to include more of the company’s persona into the copy and eventually drafted the final Flower Trends Forecast scripts.
Because this project forced me out of my writing comfort zone and taught me how to alter my writing to better correspond with the company’s overall voice, the task of drafting all of the magazine copy and scripts ended up being the most challenging task I was assigned while at IFD. Yet, it was also my favorite project for those same reasons and several others. The entire writing and learning processes were definitely rewarding by themselves, but physically seeing the videos made me better appreciate the written word. Between all of the literary analyses, poems, creative nonfiction pieces, and other creative writing genres I encountered at Ball State, I sometimes overlooked how important it is to be able to manipulate language to fit every situation and person. My work on the Flower Trends Forecast scripts once again opened my eyes to the significance of our language and how it can be used to accomplish so many things in such little space.
IIN: In blog posts you’ve written for us, you described the Flower Trends Forecast. Would you like to further elaborate your work on that project?
Ulman: As I’ve previously mentioned, I was in charge of writing the scripts for all of the Flower Trends Forecast videos (the teaser, reveal, individual trends, etc.) as well as any articles pertaining to the trends. However, I was also involved in other aspects of the project throughout the summer. Even though I wrote the majority of the scripts for the Flower Trends Forecast, there were a few that I edited instead of wrote. These scripts included the sponsor and bridal scripts. Additionally, I assisted in choosing the voiceover for all of the videos, as well as the images and music. As part of the image selecting process, I sorted through and downloaded any commercial images that coincided with the year’s trends so that IFD would be able to use them whenever they created the videos.
While I was writing the articles about the Flower Trends Forecast, I also contacted several magazines in the floral and design industries to inform them about IFD’s upcoming trend forecast. Whenever any of these contacts had any questions or requested any trend documents, I served as the liaison between them and Mr. Lanman.
Outside of the video production for the Flower Trends Forecast, I wrote the copy for the magazine that is annually released with IFD’s vendor product catalog. This content consisted of summaries for all of the trends and making sure that all of the pertinent information was included within each trend section.
The Flower Trends Forecast marketing content was definitely the largest project I worked on while at IFD, so I was involved in numerous aspects of the end product, especially the written content given my area of study at Ball State.
IIN: How have you benefited from the internships you’ve completed?
Ulman: Over the course of two summers, I completed three internships within a variety of industries. During the summer semester between my sophomore and junior years at Ball State, I served as the intern to the Marketing Director at Wayne HealthCare and the Executive Director at Main Street Greenville. Because I was also working a part-time job and taking an online class, these internships were only part-time, but they still provided me with a breadth of experience and knowledge I will forever appreciate.
After my junior year at Ball State, I interned at International Floral Distributors, Inc. in Richmond, Indiana over the summer. At the beginning of the summer, the internship was only part-time due to my also taking two online courses. However, once those courses commenced, I began working full-time at IFD.
When I was at Wayne HealthCare, I worked under the Marketing Director, Terri Flood. During this time, the hospital was undergoing a rebranding process, so nearly every piece of content needed to be completely reproduced or altered to better fit the hospital’s new brand. Whenever new content was produced by our department or by a third party consultant, Mrs. Flood would make sure to incorporate me in numerous marketing decisions and ask for my honest opinion. Because of this, I found myself in the middle of a hands-on situation where I was allowed to examine all of the implications of every marketing decision. With this responsibility, Mrs. Flood taught me an immeasurable amount of information about the marketing and healthcare worlds as well as creative content. Because of her, I learned how each element of a marketing document can alter its perception and overall success. Though they may appear minor, elements such as font choice, color combinations, and logo placement on documents can drastically affect the hospital’s success in terms of their marketing strategies. Not only did this knowledge present to be a valuable career booster, it also assisted me in several of my classes at Ball State. Subsequently, learning the influence of a document’s primary visual appearance helped me create my digital portfolio for my professional writing class later that academic year. Discovering which social media tactics work best on certain audiences also allowed me to make educated decisions as a Social Media Team Member of the Digital Literature Review, the Ball State University English Department undergraduate literary journal. Lastly, nearly all of the marketing knowledge I gained while at Wayne HealthCare allowed me to be an active team member and project manager for the Jacket Copy Creative course, which served as an undergraduate marketing firm out of the English Department.
While at Main Street Greenville that same summer, I worked under the Executive Director, Amber Garrett. Unlike my internship at Wayne HealthCare though, I only worked at Main Street Greenville every Friday afternoon and during any community sponsored events I could attend. Even though my time with Mrs. Garrett was limited, she still managed to teach me a great deal about the tourism industry. The short days I would spend with her, I learned everything ranging from creating social media content to managing entire events. These tasks again presented me with invaluable knowledge and skills to utilize at Ball State and to include on my résumé. However, one of the most vital things Mrs. Garret taught me was how to directly work with a community and best represent them and their interests. By being alongside her during Main Street Greenville events, I was able to witness how important it is to possess the compassion for others, drive to do what is right, and ability to relay all of this information to other individuals. Even though I may not find myself in the same setting in my future career, these skills along with numerous others Mrs. Garrett taught me will help make me a better worker and individual.
I’ve already discussed many of the amazing things I learned while at IFD, but one thing I did not mention was how my internship opened my eyes to the world beyond college and the person I can become. Though both high school and college present students with a great deal of experience and knowledge, they can also restrict them in terms of what the outside world contains. My internship at IFD popped that bubble and exposed me to a world that is unknown, but is also full of adventure. Prior to this internship, I never envisioned myself working in the flower industry simply because I knew little about it and had other preconceived notions of what I wanted in a career. However, IFD taught me that I should never discount a particular avenue just because I do not know very much about it; in fact, I should feel free to pursue paths that are a tad more unknown. Not only would doing so expose me to new environments I never before would have entered, it also would teach me more about myself as an individual. Even if I pursue an industry that is not quite my niche, I will have a better understanding of what I want out of my future career outside of the basics.
IIN: What are your future plans and career goals?
Ulman: Since graduating in December, I have been conducting the great search that plagues many new graduates following their commencement—looking for the right job. At this point in my career, I certainly want to find a job that adheres to my career aspirations of becoming an editor or marketing director, but I acknowledge that acquiring a “dream” job right after graduation is not the norm. Finding an editing job in my current location, rural Ohio, also presents to be a challenge, so I am more focused on pursuing the marketing world right now.
When I first started scoping for work, I was solely looking for a job—any job—no matter the position or the industry. I interviewed and was offered career opportunities at numerous companies such as LexisNexis and BTAS, but something was missing from each of these prospects. The hour commute each way on a major interstate was definitely on the “cons” side of the list, but I also felt as if these prospects were not quite the right fit for me nor I the right fit for the companies. Realizing this made me reconsider what I wanted out of my next job. My grandmother’s passing in February also instilled in me the notion of wanting to make sure that the time I spend on this Earth is doing whatever makes me happy and feel fulfilled with my achievements. My first full-time job after graduation is a crucial step in my journey, and I want to ensure I make the right decisions for the right reasons. As a result, I altered my perspective to allow my job search to include a career that will eventually evolve into a lifestyle. Even though I have yet to find this job, I wholeheartedly believe it is out there waiting for me to stumble upon at the right moment. Until then, I will continue to catch up on my reading, lead a healthy lifestyle, learn a few new skills, and spend time with those closest to me.
But, because items such as student loans do exist (and need to be paid back), I am also working a part-time job. Mr. Lanman at IFD was gracious enough to extend me a part-time copywriting position where I will create the Flower Trends Forecast video scripts and magazine copy for next year’s trends. So far, the experience has been just as helpful and invigorating as my time as an intern. I still continue to learn more about the flower industry, develop my writing and marketing skills, and understand more about myself as a professional.