Andrew Grojean was named Young Marketer of the Year at the 2015 Medical Marketing & Media (MM&M) Awards earlier this month. Intouch also took home the Gold for Best Health & Wellness Digital Initiative for Consumers and Silver for Large Healthcare Agency of the Year. Andrew recounts his experience at the awards ceremony below.

Bow ties are cool.

Fortunately, since the MM&M Awards is a black tie event in New York City, I had an excuse to wear one for the first time. In fact, I had the opportunity to experience a lot of firsts last week: first time in a tuxedo, first time in NYC (they tell me Newark doesn’t count), and first time at an industry awards event.

From the moment Intouch invited me to attend, I’d felt a strange mix of excitement and nervousness. The little things that went right throughout the day of the ceremony helped calm my nerves: My first NYC taxi driver’s name was Muhammad Ali; I got to see Times Square in all its glory — a fun place for people in our biz; and my tux survived the carry-on treatment.

At the pre-party, I met a lot of Intouchers from all three offices and bonded with our team. Listening to light jazz in tuxedos on Wall Street has a way of bringing people together. By the time we arrived at the ceremony, I was relatively relaxed and ready for the show. I knew the ceremony would be long and that my category was toward the end. I took the time to enjoy a steak and do breathing exercises.

The awards show reminded me a lot of the Oscars: a red carpet, a host who told jokes, an announcer with a voice that rivaled Morgan Freeman’s, and a handful of nominees for every category.

By the time my category was announced, I was back to feeling all kinds of emotions. The announcer read my name along with the other finalists during what felt like an eternity. After the Silver award winner was announced, the presenter was handed an oversized, shiny envelope (again, Oscars). When the presenter opened the envelope and read my name as Young Marketer of the Year, my mind went blank for a moment. I remember shaking hands with people while they read my bio and high-fiving everyone at the Intouch tables on my way to the stage. In retrospect, I might have gotten a bit carried away.

After posing for pictures onstage, I was escorted to the red carpet, where people were giving interviews. I was told I didn’t need to prepare anything to say, but as my fellow Intouchers know, I’m not one to shy away from a camera. I was still on an adrenaline high, so when I was asked questions about the award and healthcare marketing, I responded with what I would have said in an acceptance speech. “I’m truly honored by this recognition. It’s nice to be acknowledged for doing something I’m so passionate about. I’m very thankful to work for an agency that helps all of its young marketers grow in their careers and make a difference in the lives of others, and I’m not done yet.” And I meant every word.

By the time I got back to the Intouch table, my friends and coworkers back in Kansas City had started to send congratulatory texts and tweets. I can always count on my social media team to stay up to date on hashtags and social news. By the end of the ceremony, I was on cloud nine, and the Intouch team started to celebrate. I was blown away by all the support.

New York is the city that never sleeps, and I had no plans to any sleep time soon. Intouch hosted an after-party at a rooftop bar with a great view. I met even more Intouchers and clients, and we all swapped stories about our “early days” at Intouch. Admittedly, my stories were a lot more recent than most, but it was great to hear that our fun agency culture hasn’t changed much in the past 16 years.

At the end of the night, several of us decided to walk back to our hotel through Times Square. I knew I was in good company when everyone else geeked out with me about the advertising. “Look at that ad real estate!” “I wonder what the media spend was on that?!” “That’s an interesting CTA …” It was a great way to end a great night.

Hopefully, one day I’ll be fortunate enough to experience the once-in-a-lifetime fun again, with a second time in New York, second time at an industry awards ceremony, and second time in a cool bow tie.