Sebastian Zuniga, Publicis Health Intern, Class of 2017

Two Months, A Lifetime of Experience

By Sebastian Zuniga, Project Management Intern, Razorfish Health New York

It’s been less than a week since my time as an intern at Publicis Health ended, and I’m still in shock.

How did an internship impact my life so much? How did these two months fly by so quickly? How was I so wrong about so many things?

Of the many questions that my internship experience left me with, there’s one question that truly stands out. Many of my fellow interns will tell you about how they were right, but I decided that I’m going to do something a little different. I’m going to swallow my pride and tell you all about how I was wrong.

“This is going to be like any other internship. We will be doing regular, routine work. I may learn a few things, but not much will truly impact me.” I was wrong.

Everyone has heard the common stereotype about how an intern’s main job is “making photocopies and grabbing coffee,” so you can’t blame me for believing it. Fortunately, this led to my first mistake. I knew Publicis Health was going to be a new, exciting opportunity, but I never expected it to create such a positive impact on my life.

I know I can speak on behalf of most — if not all — of my fellow interns, when I say that these two months have played a significant role in both my personal and professional development. After this summer, I understood that Publicis Health truly cares about its interns. With weekly learning sessions, electives, two separate Q&A’s with Publicis Health CEO Nick Colucci, and a campaign project for The Skin Cancer Foundation, I can confidently say my internship was the most positive and enriching way to begin my professional career.

“Speaking to middle and upper management is going to be intimidating. They may avoid me and want nothing do with me. Why would they? I’m just an intern.” I was wrong.

The open and friendly culture at Razorfish Health (the Publicis Health agency where I was placed), became contagious after only a few days. Yes, people are professional, and yes, people are very busy, but that doesn’t change the fact that they make an effort to get to know you. The people I met at Razorfish Health and Publicis Health all have a genuine fascination and desire to meet their coworkers. This observation includes both middle and upper management, whom I sat down with and spoke to on several occasions.

“As an intern, I will learn about the Project Management position, but I won’t receive an in-depth experience. My work will be superficial and may not be crucial to the team. I won’t be able to innovate or impact Razorfish Health.” I was wrong.

My manager at Razorfish Health, Michelle Lim, ensured that I wasn’t right about this belief. She created the tools necessary for me to practice and learn the ins and outs of the Project Management role. On top of my everyday work, she made sure that I would leave my mark within the agency. She allowed me to hold an audit of a mobile application for Razorfish Health, and gave me the freedom to innovate by gamifying this app. Everything I worked on was meaningful, eventually leading me to feel like an asset to a team.

Besides all this, Michelle took a genuine interest in my time in New York. Not only did she provide me with the means to remain proactive in the workplace, but also recommended crucial landmarks and places to see in the city. She took it upon herself to make sure that I was making the most out my experience, both in and out of the office.

“The intern project is important, but will be like most of my work done in school. I know I am going to be motivated, but not fully drawn into it.” I was wrong.

Our campaign development project for The Skin Cancer Foundation was one of the most important facets of my internship experience. After a few weeks of work with my team to develop a campaign, I felt something incredible happen: I became passionate.

The thing is, I didn’t only become passionate about the project. I became passionate about the work, the ideas, and the cause that The Skin Cancer Foundation stands for. Thanks to this passion, I felt something that I didn’t think was going to occur at 6:30 am every morning: I was excited.

I was excited to wake up, go to work, and meet with my team to discuss our ideas. I was excited to attend meetings, communicate with fellow team members, and seek advice from our mentors, Joseph Krauss and Carolyn Oppenheim. Eventually, on the day of our presentation, my excitement overtook the familiar feeling of anxiety I would’ve ordinarily experienced. I became fully invested in a mission I honestly never gave much thought to.

So, as you can see, I was pretty wrong.

If it weren’t for this incredibly humbling experience at Publicis Health, I wouldn’t have made the same strides in the right direction. I made valuable connections, countless memories, significant progress, and was challenged day in and day out.

Above all else, I learned.

I learned that it’s ok to fail. I learned how to cope with being wrong. I learned how to meet and network with as many people as I could. I learned that I shouldn’t be afraid to speak up: my opinion and mindset were valued. I learned that what I put into any experience is what I’ll get out of it. I learned to be brave and confident in my decisions. I learned that stereotypes and misconceptions are just that, stereotypes and misconceptions. I learned that passion and knowledge can take me anywhere. Most importantly, as Nick Colucci said, I learned to never stop being a student.

I couldn’t be happier that I was wrong, because this internship was so right.

Sebastian Zuniga was a 2017 Project Management Intern at Razorfish Health in New York, a Publicis Health agency. He is majoring in Marketing with a minor in Entrepreneurship and Innovation at the Pennsylvania State University (Class of 2018). In his free time, Sebastian loves exercising and listening to music. As a Nittany Lion football fan, he will be happy to explain why star running back Saquon Barkley will be winning the Heisman trophy next season. He also loves to read (particularly John Grisham or Dan Brown), but all recommendations are welcome. Connect with him on LinkedIn.

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