My Summer at Branch Creative Network
Allan Dunlap spent the summer working as an intern at Branch Creative Network, a digital marketing agency and subsidiary of Jackson Dawson. Allan shares his story in his own words:
Not many freshmen know what they want to do when they finish college, but before I even began my college journey, I knew I wanted to pursue a career in marketing. When I told my friend Lance about my plans to go into marketing after college, he told me to talk to his father who had worked for a marketing firm in Detroit. He told me he didn’t know exactly what his father did, but he always got tickets to Tigers and Lions games. I knew that any company that had tickets to sporting events was a company I wanted to work for. Not much time later, I was able to meet Lance’s father and talk with him about his time in the marketing profession. He had worked for a company called Jackson Dawson, and had the opportunity to work with Fortune 100 companies, primarily in the auto industry. His stories about his work, and all the interesting things he was able to do because of his work made me even more excited to pursue a future in marketing.
The summer after graduating high school, I was hired as a social media coordinator for a CPA firm. Since the days of MySpace, I had had an interest in social media, but I had never thought of social media as a marketing tool. I quickly learned how valuable it was, and my sophomore year, I began working for a company in the Tampa Bay area doing Internet marketing. I worked for them for over a year, but so far, all my marketing experience had been with small businesses, and I was very eager for the opportunity to do marketing for larger companies. So when Lance told me that the company his father had worked for was coming to my school looking for interns, I was interested in checking it out. I met with Ben and Larry who were representing Branch Creative Network, a division of Jackson Dawson that was focused on digital marketing. After talking with them about the work they did with digital strategy for major companies, I was excited about the opportunity. However, one thing holding me back from applying was the thought of going to Detroit. I had never been to the state of Michigan, and all I knew about the Detroit area was what you hear and see on the news, which, if you watch the news, isn’t good. I had been applying for internships in New York and other east coast cities, and to me, Detroit was the exact opposite of what I was looking for in a city. However, I decided to apply, and several weeks later, Ben called me and told me that he would like me to come work with BCN for the summer. Despite my apprehensions, I accepted the position, and was excited to see what awaited me in Detroit.
I arrived in Dearborn, which is where I would be living for the summer, and during my first evening there, took a trip into downtown Detroit. I was pleasantly surprised by what the city had to offer, and was eager to begin work and see what else this area had in store for me. The next day, I arrived at BCN’s office in Dearborn, and was blown away by the trendy, state of the art facility. I was greeted by Ben and Larry, and introduced to Dan who was BCN’s digital strategist and the third member of the BCN team. I was then shown around the building, and led to my desk, and within an hour of setting foot in the office I was put on my first project. I was a bit surprised that I was given no training, but it did not take me long to realize that not much training could be given for the kind of work we were doing. It required me to think quickly, and learn on the go. The people I was working with were also extremely helpful, and ready to answer any questions I had, and after a week or two, I was in the swing of things and beginning to feel like a valued member of the team.
As the weeks went by, I was able to participate in a wide variety of projects. I worked with the Branch team doing research, creating proposals, and executing strategies. I learned about social media strategy, email strategy, website strategy, and many other types of digital strategies and how the world’s most successful companies are using these strategies. In addition to digital strategies, I learned what other marketing strategies are being used in today’s business world. I attended meetings with the various client teams from Jackson Dawson to gain information about the campaigns we were working on. I worked with other teams to develop the strategies behind the campaigns we were tasked with. I was also able to gain tremendous insight into how our clients operated. I had the opportunity to tour their facilities and meet with department directors and even executives from these companies. Despite all of these incredible opportunities, perhaps the best part of my experience was that no one in the company thought of me as just an intern. Rather, I was looked at as a team member who was playing a role in the outcome of each campaign. I greatly appreciated the professionalism that was shown to me by the employees of Jackson Dawson, and it challenged me to work hard to produce quality work.
Another benefit of my time with BCN was getting to explore and learn more about the Detroit metropolitan area. Detroit is a very exciting city with a lot to offer. Whether it was visiting museums or checking out some of the local restaurants and coffee shops, there was always something to do in the evenings and on my days off. Detroit also has a variety of unique attractions like Eastern Market and The Henry Ford, and it also has some of the greatest sports teams and fans in world. Whether you’re a sports fan or not, watching a Tiger’s game at Comerica Park is an unforgettable experience. Detroit is a city all its own, and cannot be compared with any other city in America. It was a privilege to be able to live in the area and understand more about a great American city that is so often misunderstood.
As a college student in today’s economy, there is much uncertainty about finding work after college. When I entered college, I made it my goal to use the next four years to gather as much experience and training as I could so I would be prepared to become a valued member of the workforce after I graduated. The experience and the training I received while at Branch Creative Network is exactly what I was looking for. Whether I end up returning to Detroit or going somewhere else, I know that everything I have learned this summer will help me excel wherever I go. As I enter my final year of college, I do not know where my career path will lead me next, but after my experience at BCN, I am confident about my future and excited to see what it holds.
Allan Dunlap is a senior studying Business Administration at Clearwater Christian College in Clearwater, Florida. Find him on Twitter at @AllanDavid47