During an exciting Saturday night Netflix binge, I found myself watching a documentary by none-other than the legendary Sir David Attenborough. Whilst being melodically whisked away into the foreign jungles full of cannibalistic tribes I thought about how I could liken the journey of a BCM internship with these tribes – minus the cannibalism (though who knows what happens during the pressure-filled moments before deadlines). As David Attenborough traversed into these unknown tribes as a foreigner, I too was thrust into the unknown as a brand strategy intern discovering new cultures, new people and new experiences.
On my first day at BCM I got an insight into the exotic advertising world (exotic when compared to university life anyway) where I was thrust head first into a client strategy meeting. In the documentary an anxious/scared-for-his-life David Attenborough says: “I walked towards this screaming horde of men, I stuck out my hand, and I heard myself say ‘good afternoon’”. Well, this was me on my first day, but instead of being faced with screaming men, I was faced with a room full of the sharpest minds in the industry (I think I would have been less nervous in a room filled with screaming cannibalistic men, to be honest).
I was stunned into slack-jawed silence with the speed of ideas, thought starters, strategy direction and creative content whizzing like spears through the air. I felt displaced listening to industry terms as if they were the foreign tongues of the Papua New Guinean tribe. Paul Cornwell, one half of the tribe leadership a.k.a. BCM’s Managing Director, was running this meeting along with my esteemed mentor, Jo Stone, the tribe’s chief advisor a.k.a. Head of Strategy (and BCM’s encyclopaedia). As I was internally fighting an emotional turmoil filled with self-doubt and intimidation (watching Mad Men was probably not the best preparation material) I was outwardly nodding in intervals whilst ‘ahh-ing’ and ‘mmm-hmm-ing’ knowledgably to keep up the façade of confidence. Then, as sudden as a car crash, Paul asked for my opinion and I felt like a nervous Attenborough speaking to the chief of the cannibalistic tribe. This was the moment when I realised I was either going to be eaten alive (figuratively) or survive another day. Well, in case you haven’t guessed, I survived with a miraculous nod of approval from the chief. David Attenborough has nothing on me.
As my time as an intern at BCM has come to an end, I have realised that just like the Papua New Guinean tribe, BCM is a modern tribe. Each and every single person plays a vital role and survival is based on collaboration and cooperation.
Like David Attenborough, I watched with avid fascination as the Accounts team – the healers –attended to client issues like the magical medicine men and women of the Papua New Guinean tribes. I met the spiritual advisors – digital, creative and social (special thanks to Lachie and Holly for putting up with my incessant questions) – as they weaved their magic through, brief after brief like the shamans in the documentary. I saw media, production and traffic as the agency’s warriors, fighting through obstacles and quick deadlines to produce the best quality product. I saw the tribal nurturers – the administration, IT and financial teams – guarding the health of operations within the agency. I saw the tribal chiefs – Paul and Kev – protect and lead their people with wise direction; and last but not least, the chief advisor – my mentor, Jo Stone – produce genius creative strategies on multiple campaigns in the span of a single breath.
The BCM Baptism Internship program exposed me to the wondrous world of advertising and I have really felt like a wide-eyed Attenborough during this experience. My advertising textbooks that I laboriously cram-studied the night before uni exams, came to life. And that, my dear reader, is why this BCM internship was one of the most fundamental learning experiences. Thank you to everyone at BCM for letting me be a part of your tribe.
Quinn Nguyen is a Brand Strategy Intern at BCM