Briana Pastilha, Publicis Health Intern, Class of 2017

A Summer of Surprises

By Briana Pastilha, Account Management Intern, Langland USA

I must admit, a chipper British accent is not what I expected to hear on the other end of my much-anticipated Publicis Health interview. But then again, my summer interning for Langland USA at Publicis Health was full of surprises; it only seems fitting it began by catching me off guard.

Surprise One: Learning as much as I did about the field and … myself

As a rising junior, I did not expect to have the opportunity to intern with Publicis Health, the largest global healthcare communications network. But I soon learned an important lesson: it never hurts to take a chance and bet on yourself. You have nothing to lose by giving your all in everything you do.

Walking in, I had no idea what CTR, IRB, HCP, or any other three-letter acronym in the pharmaceutical world actually meant. Did these people really always have to talk in code?

In nine short weeks, I learned more than I could’ve imagined about advertising. Thanks to my colleague, Sarah Cannon and her crash course, by week one, I understood the creative process from the client brief to final creative.

I quickly learned the importance of patient feasibility research, how to work with offices in different countries and time zones, and the fact that British people really do say things like “bloody,” “bloke,” and “blimey.” It’s not just in the movies.

I felt like I was living the American dream: a big city internship — best of all mine had the Hogwarts soundtrack.

My time at Langland not only taught me that everything sounds cooler in a British accent, but most importantly that working in healthcare doesn’t mean you need to sacrifice creativity. After all, Langland is recognized as the most creative health advertising agency in the world, silencing any boring Pharma stereotypes.

I assure you. Everyone I had the pleasure of working with this summer was far from boring.

The best part about this creativity is that it contains an impactful message, giving our advertising a purpose much greater than making an extra sale. The campaigns Langland and all other Publicis Health agencies create aim to directly improve their audience’s quality of life and I realized I have a passion for this type of advertising. I learned what it really means to be working in Healthcare: to strive to improve the lives of others.

Surprise Two: Stepping up to the plate

Halfway through my internship, I thought I had the routine down. 6 AM wake up, catch the 7:36 AM train, Bagel Friday (Bless up), and at 4 PM Jenny (from the block) gave us the strength to power through that final hour before the weekend.

But today was different.

I had just arrived from a meeting and it was 4:05 on a Friday … but Jenny was not on the block. No music. No cheerful Friday vibes, just silent concentrated typing. Huh … weird. But I was quickly caught up on the cause of the very un-Friday atmosphere: the mid-year Biogen meeting was Monday and a team member had just unexpectedly said she couldn’t attend. And they were asking me to fill in her place. Whoa.

With Biogen being one of our most important clients, I didn’t expect to attend the mid-year meeting, much less fill the role of a fully functional employee. I was the intern. But then again, it was a summer full of surprises.

After two days of 9–to–5 meetings, I learned by participating. Reviewing the metrics of the website, and learning the importance of patient retention, SEO, and keywords, these meetings provided me with a real-life learning opportunity. More so, it gave me the opportunity to learn the importance of client relationships first-hand when my team extended the dinner invitation with Shwen Gwee, head of digital strategy and global operations for Biogen, and his friend Mike Marett, founder of Confideo Labs, as a thank you for helping with the account.

Funny, I thought to myself. If anything, I should be thanking them for the opportunity … But who am I so say no to a free meal? I’m in New York City on a student budget after all.

Aside from networking and forming relationships with people outside of Publicis Health, attending the Biogen mid-year review was one of the stand out experiences during my time at Langland and an unanticipated opportunity. The challenge allowed me to grow and learn, giving me experience and client exposure I would not have gained otherwise.

Surprise 3: Actually, missing the 6 am wakeup call and two-hour commute

My experience this summer far surpassed my expectations. I never thought I would enjoy working a feared “grown-up 9–to–5 office job,” but I truly did look forward to work every day.

Considering I am not a morning person, the fact that I enjoyed my time at Publicis Health so much that I happily sacrificed sleep is H.U.G.E. Take my word on this one: you don’t want to be within 500 feet of me before 8 AM.

This is largely due not only to the amazing learning experience this program provided me, but the kind, and driven Publicis Health employees who bring this company to life. I absolutely loved my time here at Publicis Health and Langland, and learned and developed as a professional more than I had ever anticipated.

I never expected to feel so at home in a corporate 50-story office building. The relationships I developed this summer are ones that will last much longer than my few months spent here. I am so thankful I had the opportunity to connect with everyone I did. So much so that when I was asked to stay an extra week, I was thrilled. I must admit most 20-year-olds don’t get excited about sacrificing another week of their summer to be in an office building, but my internship was so much more than a job to me.

Now as my 10 weeks at Publicis Health are coming to an end, I’d like to say a special thank you to everyone at Langland who welcomed me into their family with open arms and teaching me the many British-isms that hold a special place in my heart and lexicon. And thank you Publicis Health for giving me the opportunity to #internwithpurpose, giving me a summer full of experiences and people I will never forget.

Briana Pastilha is a 2017 Account Management Intern at Langland USA, a Publicis Health agency, in New York City. A rising junior at the University of Wisconsin Madison (Class of 2019), she is studying Marketing and International Business with a French Certificate. A lover of humans and hedgehogs alike, Briana enjoys spending her free time at her beach house in Seaside Park (and no it’s nothing like The Jersey Shore). She loves a good sunset and will travel far and wide in search of the perfect rooftop (typical New Yorker in training). Connect with her on LinkedIn.