As summer winds down (thank you, Mother Nature), we bring you some recaps/perspective from those who spent some time toiling away this season. But enough with the preamble as we present you two interns’ perspectives from this summer’s 4A Multicultural Advertising Intern Program.
I have always had a strong interest in design and advertising and their effect on people. Yes, I am drawn to the vibrant colors and the memorable tunes of commercials, but also the way each print, TV or digital ad connects with me as a consumer. Technology today allows for a visually impactful message to be distributed at lightning speed across a city, country or globe in seconds. As a creative and educated African American female, I see the advantage I have in this ever-changing market in creatively representing and targeting a more diverse audience. Though commercials and ads appear to be growing in diversity, many advertising agencies are still lacking in reflecting this diversity in their creative staff. More are realizing the importance of having a more inclusive employee base.
Due to rapidly changing demographics in the consumer marketplace in the United States and globally, advertising agencies and the clients they represent are now faced with the challenge of having a creative department that reflects their customer base. That is where the Multicultural Advertising Intern Program (MAIP) comes in. When applying for internships for this summer, I was looking for specific qualities in an advertising agency, program and experience. I ultimately chose to accept an internship with MAIP, because they truly have a grasp of the issues pertaining to diversity in advertising and identifying challenging opportunities for people of color in the industry.
They were able to match me with one of the top digital creative agencies in the country, Draftfcb. I have gained incomparable knowledge that has strengthened my creative skills working on major client campaigns. From working on wire framing websites, to designing 70 page decks all the way to designing an infographic timeline of a particular brand’s history. I got to work with well-known companies like Dockers, EA Games, and Kikkoman. I was constantly busy and working and would not have it any other way. In addition, I have attained a first hand view on where the future of advertising and design is heading and how I need to position myself to be a thought leader and trendsetter.
The MAIP program over the years has been invaluable in helping agencies identify qualified alums who they know have had the experience and knowledge to be immediate contributors, not only to the make up of their employment base, but more importantly to the diversity of the creative process. Diversity helps to ultimately strengthen an agency’s ability to offer consumer campaigns that reflect their existing customer base and target growing ethnic consumers. Diversity is not just about skin color but also life experiences, backgrounds and preferences. Through MAIP and the requests of their clients, advertising agencies are increasingly seeing the competitive advantage that a diverse staff offers to create campaigns for a multicultural marketplace enabling a client to sell more. Is not that what advertising is truly all about?
Participating in MAIP as an Art Director has been very influential in shaping my career in design and the art of advertising. The mentors I have been paired with have been a tremendous help in serving as a sounding board for ideas and career opportunities. MAIP provides you with all of the materials and opportunities for you to succeed but it is really up to you to take full advantage of the program. You must display a willingness, dedication and passion to pursue your career. All of the opportunities that MAIP has to offer, from weekly webinars and seminars to knowledgeable mentors, have been informative. I can say with certainty that my skill set has made a leap forward with the MAIP support system to help me to reach my goals. This program offers great opportunities to plug into a network of contacts whose influences will be of great help as I set forth to establish myself as a competent designer ready to make a difference in the field of advertising. With the program’s impeccable reputation throughout the advertising industry, it is a stepping stone for the graduating minorities who recruiting agencies know have the talent, experience and skill set to contribute from day one. MAIP has proven that the inclusion of diverse professionals helps to create the foundation of a new more inclusive industry that truly reflects the diverse world we live in and makes for better advertising.
At the conclusion of my sophomore year, I went home for the summer because, unlike some of my peers and colleagues, I didn’t have an internship but I came close.
Earlier in the school year, I attended an open house at an agency in Atlanta. I flew there from my small college town and spent a few hours mingling before flying back to my apartment at 2 a.m.. The agency never called me after my visit. As a junior , I swore I’d get an internship come hell or high water because securing an internship in the summer before senior year is expected. Honestly, I just wanted a chance. I had ideas I wanted to make real. I was fiercely passionate about advertising and knew
Copywriting would be my pursuit. After seeing a presentation about the 4A’s MAIP initiative by 2012 MAIP alum, I was ready to apply. Then I saw the application process, which was intimidating to say the least. I felt I had no business even applying. My resume wasn’t spectacular. My portfolio wasn’t up to par. I didn’t have a website or a video. And recommendation letters seemed unattainable because of my light experience. It felt like sophomore year all over again.
Dear reader, by now you may have discerned that I’m writing this article from the future, as a MAIP intern looking back. So, yes, I am a MAIP intern. There, I said it. The illusion is shattered. But what you don’t know is the irony of having learned so much in the months leading up to my acceptance in MAIP, maybe more than during the internship itself.
As I said, the application process was demanding and for good reason. MAIP wants the cream of the crop. MAIP wants interns who are passionate, talented and brimming with enthusiasm and ambition.
On selection day, I was chosen for a copywriting internship at SWIRL, a San Francisco agency. I don’t want you to think I tricked MAIP into selecting me. I really do love advertising. Bill Bernbach and David Ogilvy are my heroes. I read Adweek and Ad Age. (Ad week is better in my opinion). I spend way too much time analyzing TV commercials. This really was about me becoming a proactive go-getter; becoming good enough. But I can hear the scoffs. “Calm down, it’s an internship.”
And to them I say, “Everyone has dreams.” For many people, those dreams never become reality, for one reason or another. For me, being able to work at an ad agency was my dream. MAIP showed me that hard work and self-confidence are rewarded. Before anyone can believe in you, you have to believe in yourself. Being proactive and not reactive can land someone a copywriting internship in one of the best cities to spend a summer. But that’s not to say I haven’t learned anything as an intern at SWIRL, either.
For all the unique and talented friends and colleagues met during my time at SWIRL, I’d like to say that I learned what a business day is like in a full-service agency. I learned what it’s like to do real work for real clients that really got presented. I also learned, begrudgingly, what it’s like to have that work shot down by clients. I’ve learned that this is exactly what I imagined working in advertising would be like — not like work at all. And I’ve been able to connect and bond with people from all walks of life who share the same passion for advertising that I have.
The mantra at SWIRL is “doing sits above saying.” It’s fitting that I was chosen to intern here. I’m a guy who learned that lesson months ago during the application process. I’m a guy who now does what he used to only talk and dream about. And I have MAIP to thank for that.