At 5 a.m. on the morning of Tuesday, Nov. 1, a group of 15 Ithaca College students boarded a bus for New York City, where they would spend the day with some of the most influential people in the world. They were specially invited to be interns at the PTTOW! SESSIONS.
Billed as the “TED convention of marketing,” PTTOW! brings together chief marketing and executive officers from over 70 industries, along with icons from the worlds of sport, politics and more to brainstorm ways to increase awareness for various brands, concepts and causes.
“It was interesting to see how people from all different areas of work could be brought together in one room to talk about a given topic,” said Keanna Morales, a freshman who was selected as an intern.
The students’ role at the conference was to act as scribes. They were tasked with taking notes during the conference’s fast-paced, 90-minute-long “spark sessions.” Those notes have since been disseminated to the participants of each of the 15 sessions.
Hayley Kretchmer, a sophomore communication studies major, said that her coursework proved crucial to the work. “I had to pull from the skills I learned in the classroom to debrief my notes in a way that other people would be able to understand,” she said.
The students’ internship opportunity began as a problem for Samantha Rabstein, who graduated from Ithaca College with a bachelor’s degree in Integrated Marketing Communications in 2010 and completed her master’s in communications innovation in 2015. She now works as a strategic account manager for PTTOW! and was in need of scribes for the New York sessions. She called Bryan Roberts, associate dean of the Roy H. Park School of Communications, and asked if Ithaca College could send some of their best and brightest.
Roberts and Elizabeth Bleicher, associate professor of English and director of the Ithaca College Exploratory Program, decided to nominate students who would get the most out of the experience while representing the college well. They ultimately settled on a diverse group of students that included some from the Exploratory Program.
“We wanted to give some students experience and let them see what the possibilities are,” said Bleicher. “Just to give them a taste of the kinds of professions they may never even have thought of.”
By the end of the sessions, Rabstein was impressed by the students’ work and confident that she’d made the right decision.
“The students had an exceptional level of professionalism and a commitment to excellence that is demonstrative of the Ithaca College mentality,” said Rabstein. “They certainly delivered on the challenge that was put forth to them.”
After speaking with the students about their experiences, Roberts had similar praise. “They were really impressed and intimidated by the caliber of the people in the room, but by the end of the day they knew that they belonged there,” he said.
After a long day the students returned to campus after midnight, in time to catch a few hours’ sleep before class the next morning.
“It was exhausting, but amazing and worthwhile,” said Morales.