Intern Profiles: Abby the Gracefully Convoluted Professional

As the author for this profile series, the time has come for me to tell you a little bit about myself. We’ve had a handful of standout interns enter our studio this summer, and I am thankful to be among the cohort. The group is diminishing as we all return to our lives outside of Uncorked. As such, this post marks the fifth and final blog in the series. Thanks for reading!

Name: Abby Williams
Education: Portland State University
Degree Program: Business Administration: Marketing & Advertising Management
Hometown: Portland, OR

I am an Atlanta-born and Portland-raised student at Portland State University who is constantly in a state of identity crisis, as I love barbeque food but am also a vegetarian. I know this seems confusing but hang in there, it’s a metaphor.

I thrive in an environment of small talk, but I crave solitude; I love to write, but I am impatient with the process. This contradictory mindset has been present throughout my life.

In my teenage years, I was a perpetual entrepreneur. I started four moderately profitable businesses by the time I was sixteen— Art on Demand, Eleven, Pixie Patrol, and Poppin’s Princesses [note: I never thought these names would appear in my adult life, so cut me some slack]. While a couple of these businesses were quite literally charities, I also needed money to buy a car. At times, these two goals were at odds—they felt mutually exclusive. My inner compass had pulled me in opposite directions.

This conundrum followed me into college. I am a marketing and advertising student who is still trying to figure out how to communicate the adjacency between the two industries—because many people think of those those degrees as synonymous, but I think their purposes are highly differentiated.

A family friend (and advertising pessimist) told me a few years ago that if I chose to pursue an advertising degree, I would end up designing tear-out coupons for Fred Meyer. And, although I cast no judgement towards those crafting the pathway to grocery thrift, I have no desire to do that in my lifetime. I knew I would have to be resilient to disprove the bogus stereotypes surrounding my profession and prove them wrong by creating products with significance.

This persistent conflict led me to my personal manifesto of making the most impact out of this stint of semi-adulthood [i.e., college], while figuring out my purpose in the world.

As such, I aimed to do an internship every summer, where I could selectively sample the different career paths under each of my degrees—getting a sense of what they all have to offer the world. Over the years I’ve done everything from community affairs to digital marketing analytics.

I still remember when I came across the branding and communications internship in Uncorked Studios’ Semiotics department. The title piqued my interest so I decided to read on. What I learned is that Semiotics is quite literally the study of meaning—how’s that for hitting the nail on the head?

Check out the first line of the job description:

I was sold.

I discovered that Uncorked and I were asking the same questions: how can we leave the world in a better place than how we found it?

Now, having spent some time in the studio, I have seen this question answered again and again. The most transformative example of this has come from our Semio Summits. In these summits, we condense our Uncorked process into a quick two-day sprint to solve a partner’s business challenge.

The team has hosted numerous summits throughout my time here. What stood out to me is that they could have offered these workshops exclusively as a profitable service, but to this day, 50 percent of all summits have been pro bono to help local businesses and foundations in the community. In experiencing this, my career aspirations suddenly began falling into place.

So what now?

Since starting here, I have become more clear in my personal trajectory and have undergone some serious revelations regarding my career path:

  • Innovate only when there is a purpose. Purpose is the sole reason for creation; when you notice a gap in the world, fill it.
  • Choose a focus, but by no means do you have to stick with it. Find a job that lets you dabble in other areas, or get out while you can.
  • Own your path, take risks and deliver.

This summer helped me find grace in my convoluted world. While I may always have the hankering for southern soul food as a vegetarian, I have learned to put my Carolina sauce on the tofu. I may get utterly exhausted after socializing, but I have chosen to always find quiet nooks where I can recharge. And while I sometimes want to abort the creation process entirely, crafting work with significance takes precision and time, and man, it is so worth it.


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