And Now, Two Interns Weigh In On Their 4A’s MAIP Experience

By Kiran Aditham 

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.