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Intern Insider: Ardinger designs her own internship experience

When senior Samantha Ardinger showed up for her first internship meeting at The POP Bag in New York, she was shocked by the organization’s size. The office, no bigger than a standard dorm room, featured a folding table and a couple of chairs—enough furniture to accommodate The POP Bag’s two employees.

Samantha Ardinger '13 poses next to the new POP Bag website, which she redesigned.

“Partway through (the meeting), I asked, ‘Where’s everybody else?” Ardinger says. “She said it’s just the two of us and the intern.”

That intern is Ardinger, a psychology and media arts & entertainment double major participating in the Elon in New York City summer program. And that “she,” who told Ardinger POP Bag employed only a pair of women, is Pam, the woman who runs the small company.

POP Bag is a marketing agency that tries to put samples of a client’s product directly in the hands of consumers. Usually, their marketing efforts are tied to theatrical releases. They gauge the expected demographic of a particular film, reach out to clients who are also trying to attract that demographic and then directly connect the client to the consumer.

POP Bag relies on social media networks before and after events to reach out to a larger community and to promote its clients and tie-ins. Ardinger was initially hired as a social media consultant, but her role and responsibilities have increased since she started about three weeks ago.

And during that short amount of time Ardinger has experienced the benefits and the challenges of working for a tiny operation—one that runs its business out of an office on the third floor of the Clearview Cinemas in Chelsea.

The plusses? Ardinger can initiate and pitch her own ideas, which she often gets to implement. Shortly after starting, she suggested POP Bag redesign its website—and that she be the one to do it. So, Ardinger worked up three design templates for a new site and just like that Ardinger became a web designer for a professional organization. She also blogs and contacts clients.

“What I have gotten out of (the internship) is definitely a portfolio of work because I’ve had to step in do so much,” Ardinger says. “And I really have a voice with them. Pam always listens to me. As opposed to you tell me what to do and I do it, I implement my ideas, and they say, ‘I didn’t think of that.’”

The minuses? Ardinger calls herself a “social butterfly,” so being tethered to a cramped office with two other people doesn’t exactly give her the opportunity to connect and network with a wider group. And even though she’s afforded great responsibility, her day-to-day tasks are limited by what the POP Bag employees feel is feasible to complete with such a small staff.

“Now I know I want to work for a big company,” Ardinger says.

Still, she acknowledges that the freedom she’s afforded to innovate has “upped” her work ethic and enhanced her professional portfolio. She has a voice in the company, which isn’t always typical for interns.

And on a general scale, Ardinger is simply enjoying the opportunity to live and work in New York, surrounded by the familiarity of Elon.

“How Elon set us up here and Maggie helped us find an internship, when I talk to my friends from other colleges, they don’t have that,” Ardinger says. “I just think Elon connections are so great because we’re such a small little environment.”

When Ardinger returns to the actual small little Elon environment in North Carolina at the end of the August, she’s going to renew her focus on taking the LSAT, which she’ll do in October. Her plan is to go to law school after graduation and then perhaps return to New York.

Intern Insider will run one to two times a week during the summer and will feature brief stories about some of the interns from the School of Communications or in School of Communications programs.

Colin Donohue,
6/27/2012 8:36 PM