Major(s): Digital Media & Design | Concentration: Marketing
Class Standing: 5th Year/Super Senior
Describe your history at UConn
It has been quite an interesting ride indeed. I entered in 2011 as a Physiology & Neurobiology major in hopes of one day entering the medical field. Late into my sophomore year I began questioning my intentions and motivation for a major I didn’t feel like I was effectively competing in so I decided to switch my major to one of my growing passions that I’d had since high school, digital media and design. It was a wonderful decision and I’ve experienced much success since the change. No 8am labs is also a plus.
What interests you about your major?
The impact that digital media has had on our society is certainly no secret. The most fascinating thing about it is its rapid evolution and the effect that it has on the daily consumer. Being able to have an impact on end-user experiences is quite rewarding.
Can you tell us a little about your internship at Priceline.com?
I had a wonderful experience interning at Priceline.com during the summer of 2015. Working under the Senior Creative Director on the marketing department brand team, I was given the wonderful opportunity to see the inner workings of an immensely successful brand that was built in the digital age. I got to work on both internal and external projects spanning a wide range between web, media, and print. I also had the pleasure of being greeted by William Shatner’s face every morning when I walked into the office.
The office culture was amazing. Despite there being over 500 employees in our Norwalk office, it felt like everyone knew everyone. My department was fantastic. Everyone on my team was extremely friendly and accommodating and it was a pleasure to work with each and every one of them. There were a lot of great events outside the office as well: as a company we took a cruise around New York City, my department all went zip lining together, and in the final week all of the interns went bowling together. It was a fantastic internship that I would recommend to anyone. I got to meet some great people, collaborate and do extremely rewarding work, and discovered I may have future career as a professional bowler.
How did you obtain this opportunity?
John Caine, the CPO for Priceline.com came to speak to my class/department in October of last year about the company’s history and the impact digital has had on its product development. Being under the impression I was going to have time to speak to him one-on-one after the presentation, I decided to get really dressed up in hopes of making a good impression (I even got a haircut). Unfortunately this wasn’t the case and I probably looked really out of place but I still handed him a resume and after following up had an interview offer within a few weeks.
What was your favorite part?
The best part of the internship was certainly the group pitch competition. To get a new perspective on how to solve market challenges, Priceline.com grouped the interns into teams and paired them with a full time mentor to help us come up with solutions and eventually pitch them to the CEO and senior management. It was an amazing process that helped us bond within our team, realize our strengths, communicate with higher-ups, and effectively research and produce an end goal. After six weeks and many long nights my team ended up winning the competition which was extremely rewarding.
What did you find most challenging?
With some of my larger projects I was given a lot of creative control when deciding the direction that I wanted it to go. While I was extremely lucky to be trusted with such a task, it’s can be very difficult to ideate and produce a concept while adhering to guidelines and meeting a deadline. Thankfully I always embrace a challenge and these are the cases where I believe I produce my best work.
Can you think of a time you really wowed your supervisor/employer?
The project I worked on at Priceline.com focused on what we could do to increase direct business acquisitions to Priceline.com through customer loyalty. After our presentation, our CEO Paul Hennessy remarked that our presentation had inspired him to take immediate action on personally acknowledging a unique set of customers we discovered through our research. It was probably the best thing we could have heard after putting so much effort into the project.
You’ve also interned at Connecticut Innovations, what was that like?
This is my third semester working with CT Innovations, an opportunity that has been presented to me through the -Ation Student Agency, a student-operated digital agency in the DMD department. Each semester is unique as I am tasked with assisting a different client with production of a marketing tool, usually a video. Working as a project manager in a group producing content from scratch has been one of the most rewarding experiences I could ask for. I’m able to log my own hours and do work on my own time which certainly reduces a lot of stress. It’s a lot of work but it feels great when you can finally present your hard efforts to the client and they can benefit immediately.
What kind of marketable skills did you acquire from this experience?
Developing a solid creative process has been a huge asset for me. Working with a new client every semester has allowed me to streamline my team’s process and understanding of what we are capable of given the scope of the project. This allows for flexibility between ideation and production, which translates to positive results in the final deliverable.
What did you find most rewarding from these internships?
The temporary nature of an internship allows for you to get a quick glance at many different aspects of a company. Every opportunity I’ve had has allowed me to gain a peek into the work style of companies spanning several different industries. Connecting and working with new people in different environments has been a great experience to get to know how a real company functions as a result of its culture.
Where do you see yourself 5 years from now?
As someone who has been through a lot of changes since entering college, I know firsthand that it’s difficult to predict the future. Ideally I’ll be working at a company that I can have a positive impact on whose company culture reinforces both mine and the other employee’s efforts. I’m excited to see what’s in store, for all I know I could be managing a Cinnabon in Omaha.
How has the Center for Career Development (CCD) helped you in achieving your educational/career goals?
The CCD has been very helpful the past few years in both affirming my decision to switch my major and helping me express my skills to a new set of potential employers. Recently they’ve helped me with both resume critiques, the opportunity to showcase my work at the Reverse Career Fair, and even be featured in this blog post!
What has been your favorite part about being a UConn student?
It’s so funny to look back at my freshman year and see how much I’ve changed in the time that I’ve been here. Such a transformation has been directly dependent on the opportunities that have been presented to me by this school. UConn gave me the chance to pursue what I really enjoy doing.
Based on your experiences, what advice would you give your fellow UConn students?
Pursue what you really enjoy doing.
Where can we find more of your work?
Why thank you for asking! My work can be found at my website, http://scottgary.com!