It’s been a couple of decades since Jeff Blankstein interned.
So when the Google employee was asked to do it all over again at BBDO San Francisco, first day jitters were only natural.
"I was leaving the house on the first day and my wife said, ‘are you really going to wear that?’" Blankstein told Campaign US.
The 36-year-old, who works within Google’s agency business development department, spent one day a week over three months at the Omnicom shop this summer (save for a short hiatus, owing to the birth of his third child).
He did everything from move furniture to sweat the details of creative campaigns and -- of course -- get coffee.
"The creative agency landscape is changing so fast, with more pressure now than ever before to do more for less," he said. "In order for me to really know what they’re going through, I had to step into their shoes. I really wanted to be viewed as an extension of their team and evolve with them."
Blankstein was at their full disposal. His aim was to get up close and personal with BBDO team members and fight creative battles in the trenches with them.
"My eyes were just opened to the work that they’re doing, how fast they move, how they generate ideas and how all the teams are interconnected," he continued.
Blankstein sought out opportunities in which Google could add a bit of spark in any one particular place, from offering a piece of data for their strategy or comms team, to a creative POV on how a campaign could come to life on YouTube or with Google Assistant.
The main areas Google could offer a helping hand were measuring the effectiveness of work to help validate what’s working and what’s not.
"What makes BBDO San Francisco unique is that they’re in the backyard of Silicon Valley," Blankstein added. "There’s a competitive advantage to them being so close to all these tech companies. They have more of an entrepreneurial feel to the way they carry themselves.
"Their ability to move at the speed their clients wanted them to despite all the other hurdles was really impressive to me. It was like seeing a piece of art from a different angle."
Sadie Thoma, director of creative agency development at Google, explained that the company is always exploring new ways to collaborate more closely with its creative agency partners.
The internship took its "in residence" approach one step further "to fully immerse in the agency's day-to-day challenges, opportunities, and process." She said: "It let us learn and empathize at a completely different level, and home in on where exactly we can contribute, to help fuel amazing work and agency growth."
The initiative follows an internship two years ago in which BBDO San Francisco President and CEO Jim Lesser came over to Google to learn more about data and programmatic advertising.
Lesser said: "The goal with the reverse internship was to have Jeff embedded into our key client teams so that he could partner with us further upstream.
"It’s no secret that collaboration of any kind works best when it happens early and often so this afforded us that opportunity on an ongoing basis.
"As an industry our clients want us to work faster and having a partnership like this means we can build ideas out more efficiently and also kill off any that might not be feasible so as not to waste time on them."