I asked Havas Worldwide Chicago to #GimmeAnIntern for this post.
The agency sent me three.
Along with honing their skills in various agency departments, the 14 lucky folks in Havas's 10-week summer internship program are being "loaned out" to local businesses, cultural institutions, sports teams and celebrities—anyone, actually, who makes a strong enough case on social media using the #GimmeAnIntern hashtag or via email. The interns are sharing their adventures in real-time video via the agency's Periscope account and elsewhere on social media.
Coffee and danish runs for the executive creative directors just won't cut it anymore, I guess. (That said, the Havas 14 are also required to spend time sitting on display in the agency's street-level lobby, in full view of the public. So the time-honored tradition of humiliating interns by giving them stupid stuff to do isn't dead yet.)
"In order to create campaigns that drive cultural conversations, you have to be immersed in culture," says Celia Jones, Havas group brand director. "That means not only being exposed to the thinking and creativity within the walls of the agency, but also giving interns an opportunity to gain hands-on experience out in the world."
I always thought folks went into advertising to escape the real world to a fantasyland of brand worship where everyone eventually wins an award. Luckily, these plucky wannabes aren't tainted by such cynicism. Yet.
Christina Muth, one of the interns, who graduated from Mount St. Joseph University with a business degree, enjoyed her first out-of-agency experience—working at a food blog. She says she leaned a lot about how media sponsorships work.
"I can't wait to do it again," she says, "especially if it involves food for a second time. But next time, I'd like to assist in the eating."
Another intern, Chicago Portfolio School student Jeff Polaschek, was assigned a test-riding task at Divvy Bikes. Of the Havas program, he says, "They are just trying to keep us out of the agency because we are too good." (If you guessed he's a copywriter—bingo! He's also branded himself as the "oldest intern ever" on Twitter.)
— Divvy (@DivvyBikes) June 16, 2015
Carina Sherman, who graduated with a B.A. in communications and English from Andrews University, hopes her first real-world posting involves music. "I don't want to brag, but I make the best playlists," she says. "Making music playlists for local businesses, road trips and even dinner parties is something I feel I'd have a real knack for."
That's a good thing. As an English major, she will need some other work skills to fall back on.
All kidding aside, #GimmeAnIntern sounds like an engaging way for the participants to learn about advertising and lots of other stuff, too. Plus, as Muth notes, "it also broadcasts to the world what Havas has to offer."
Indeed, #GimmeAnIntern serves as a fun self-promotion. Havas says the social-media-based competition to select the 14 interns was so popular, it boosted the agency's Instagram following by 12 percent. Now, in addition to media coverage, Havas is getting the word out via Popular Plays, offering hour-long intern assistance to Chicago Instagrammers with more than 50,000 followers. (The shop has done some innovative, high-profile intern stuff before, including last year's Winternship initiative.)
So, what do the #GimmeAnIntern recruits plan for their professional futures?
"In the short time I have been here, I have realized that I would love to work as a digital strategist for great American brands," says Sherman.
"I have this little dream of building something from the ground up—whether that's a product, an event, or even an app," Muth says. "I would love to be behind something that I could call my own and something that others can also share. Being in an environment of thinkers and creators only helps me to grow, and I feel very fortunate to be here. Maybe one day, my big idea will hit me, but until then, I am in love with being around individuals that inspire me to be better than who I was yesterday."
And Polaschek? "I would love to be a creative director at an agency like Havas," he says, "but more than likely I will die from indentured servitude here first."