Image showing young man with arms out and legs up on desk with blackboard and whiteboard behind him with words Theory, Legal, Q1, Project and Terms written on blackboard and whiteboard

From The Classroom to The Boardroom

By John Raffa, Intern

Three years ago today, I was a bright-eyed senior at Yorktown High School awaiting my summer and excited for the road ahead of me in college. I constantly remind myself of this because I am truly amazed at where the time has gone and all that I still have ahead of me. 

Today, I sit here as a wide-eyed junior at the University of Maryland getting ready to start my life in the “real world.” Over the last few months, through my internship at MKP, I got my first look at what the “real world” might entail. At MKP, I have not only learned that there is actually something important in those letters from my bank that I keep throwing away, but also that there is also a completely new world out there I never knew about. Through my experience at MKP, I’ve learned about the detailed elements of bank merger communications, and also how to interact in a professional setting and collaborate with more established coworkers to help push the company to even greater heights. I’ve discovered that there are just some things you cannot learn in the classroom – things you can only learn by spending time working and interacting with people who have years of experience. I am grateful for my experience at MKP because it has allowed me to learn things I would have never encountered through my academic experience.

As I am an Economics major and MKP is a bank communications company, the things I have seen in the classroom are nothing like I have experienced in my internship. My main area of study is qualitative economic analysis and how that affects decision-making. MKP’s focus is definitely outside that discipline, and I have really enjoyed that change of pace. Majoring in Economics provides a lot of flexibility to try different things in the business world while still gaining an understanding of important policies that impact everyone. As a student, this degree has allowed me to try new things and expand my knowledge in different areas.

Jumping right in

I am just an intern here, and yet, all throughout my internship, I have felt nothing but included and encouraged to interact and contribute to the company. With so many team members having over two decades of experience at MKP, one would think it would be intimidating to try to chime in and share my opinion, but that was never the case. Many employees have been very excited to hear what I have to say as if I had been at the company longer than I actually have been.

As a small company, there is nothing small about what is going on at MKP. The hands-on experience I gained (all while being remote) is rare. The ability to sit in on creative concept presentations was something I could have never seen through my coursework. Before the presentation, I was briefed on the project background as well as the client’s brand standards that were referenced in creating the layouts. Then, seeing MKP’s client’s reaction to the creative layouts and how impressed they were with the range of ideas presented showed me that not only can the company deal with the logistics involved in deploying marketing communications, but also ideate and develop high-energy, appealing creative work. I was always told about the work the creative team does, but to see that work come to life in a client presentation was extremely valuable.

One of my favorite parts of working at MKP has been our daily check-ins. Sometimes, as a college student, it could feel like a hassle getting up in the morning to possibly just talk about people’s hobbies and interests. However, MKP’s daily check-in is more than that and it has kept the team on the same page while working remotely during the pandemic. As a small company, it is important for everyone to be close and operating on the same wavelength. Things as basic as making someone feel important on their birthday by making a thirty-minute meeting all about them is so vital to a successful work environment. While this is only my first experience working with a company, I can see the value in having a daily meeting to keep the team aligned and I am glad to have been a part of it.

Learning through doing

My time here has not all been about entertainment and coworker discourse, even though that can be very amusing. Through the assignments I’ve been given, I’ve learned quite a bit about financial services communications that I did not know before. Something as simple as spending time looking through bank merger microsites has taught me a lot about the digital space in which MKP is involved. I learned about what information is crucial and the best ways to visually display information to customers. The term “direct mail” is something I never heard before I started working here, but now I understand what goes into direct mail packages, how important paper stock is and all of the quality control measures MKP implements to ensure perfection in execution.

A lot of what I do here could be labeled as “intern work,” but everyone has to start somewhere and these kinds of tasks are laying down a foundation of knowledge that I can build on in the future. The time I spent researching client and prospect contact information added to my understanding of the importance of business development, even if it is simple internet research and Excel work. Projects like this have taught me lessons in organization, research, professional communication and time management, all of which will not only help me through my professional development, but also help in my daily life (like making time to clean my room!).

Also among the projects with which I was charged included participation in company social media discussions, thought leadership meetings and creative deliverable run-throughs. These served as opportunities to learn and expand my knowledge of company operations and brand messaging. The variety of discussions to which I’ve been exposed has allowed me to see the intricacies of what goes into content and deliverables produced by the company.

Because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, I have not done any of these things in person. Instead, I have found myself sitting in front of the computer screen for the duration of my internship. As sad as that is, being remote has allowed me to have this work experience all while I am still on campus. Hopefully, in the future, we can return to normality, and I will be able to implement all that I have learned in the context of an in-person office experience. 

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve learned a lot through books I have read and tests for which I have prepared, but being hands-on in my internship is the reason why my eyes are wide open. MKP has given me an opportunity to see clearly what I have in front of me (which, surprisingly, is not dissimilar from what I felt when I was a senior in high school). My academic career may be coming to an end, but my professional career is what excites me now. What I have learned at MKP I will carry forward, and I am better for having this knowledge. I am so thankful for the time I spent at this internship and I look forward to the rest of my time here. While my time in the classroom earned me this internship, this internship, in turn, is helping prepare me for the future. In this way, I’m on the path from the classroom to the boardroom!

MKP communications inc. is a New York City-based communications company specializing in financial services marketing and merger/change communication.