From the ground up: Missouri School of Journalism student gains confidence, skill at Chicago summer internship

Sam Seppala

By Sydney Perry

Senior Sam Seppala was ready to apply what the School of Journalism has taught him as he searched for his first real-world internship.  After a few months of applying, Seppala secured a position at a small creative agency in Chicago called Tom, Dick and Harry.

Sam Seppala
Sam Seppala

Seppala was connected to a Mizzou alum at the agency through professor Jamie Flink, whom he worked with the prior semester in her Management of Strategic Communication course.

“Jamie Flink’s class streamlined me right into the internship,” said Seppala. “Because of Jamie’s class, the whole [campaign] process is nothing but a process to me instead of a giant ordeal like it felt when I was first learning.”

While he felt the J-School had prepared him well, he wasn’t able to show off his skills at first. Seppala began the internship slowly, working on tasks such as filling out spreadsheets. While these initial projects were monotonous at the start, Seppala decided to take what he was given and use the opportunity to prove himself.

“You can’t forget to pay your dues and do the grunt work,” said Seppala. “Once you do the work, and you do it with dexterity, people are going to trust you and your work and give you bigger projects.”

After impressing the team with his hard work and diligence, Seppala was rewarded with the chance to work on a team briefing for “a pet food brand”. As he put together creative briefs and competitive audits, attend client meetings and conduct team briefings, Seppala felt he was able to directly apply many topics that the J-School had taught him. He was soon given the assignment of conducting research around the city to gain insight on the company.

“I went out and did qualitative research by walking into pet stores around Lincoln Park and Wrigleyville and taking note of the stock of the brand — who was selling it, if it was coming off shelves, if it was well liked by certain pet owners over others,” said Seppala. “I presented my  final research to the team along with a creative brief and we ended up winning the business.”

Seeing his hard work pay off with the addition of this client to the Tom, Dick and Harry portfolio, along with all the other progress he made from the start of the summer to the end, Seppala felt more confident than ever in his capabilities and ready to take on future positions he might hold in the strategic communications industry.

“The success that came with working on a client and securing their business was like nothing else,” said Seppala. “It truly feels like you have made it, and this is only the beginning.”

Updated: October 2, 2023

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