Editor’s Note: Meet-a-Ram is VCU’s news series about the students, staff, and graduates who make Virginia Commonwealth University such a vibrant place to live, work, and learn.
Some members of the team that created The Inturnship program lost their jobs in advertising in 2020, and you and your fellow VCU undergraduates ran Camp ADventure for students who needed some training in advertising during the pandemic. How was The Inturnship born out of these programs and issues?
2020 has influenced many people, which has sparked and created many initiatives involving giving back. Much of it was education-based, but few of those programs translated into full-time career opportunities, which is where The Inturnship comes in.
After the initial Adventure Camp program ended, we sent out a survey asking participants if they had been successful in finding employment. And while about half said yes, the other half said they were still unsure what their next steps were – they wanted a little more room to learn with the mentorship.
I worked closely with senior creatives at companies like Google and VCU colleague Megan Watt to get the ball rolling on The Inturnship. Then we officially launched in November 2020, and basically had two to three months of promotion to get our name out there.
Why did you call the program The Inturnship?
We created boarding school (spelled with a U) with the message “Take the Detour,” essentially telling everyone, “If you don’t have a full-time job now, it’s not the end of the world. And sometimes the job search journey can be just as significant as the destination.
So along the way, The Inturnship is there to ease some of the financial stress by letting our “inturns” work with real clients, get more organized professional mentorship, and ultimately help them get a job offer at full-time.
All of the clients we had were paying clients, and we budgeted and scoped the work to ensure that the inturns that were part of our program were paid through freelance contracts. For those who weren’t working full-time on clients, we placed them with mentors to receive direct mentorship and learn more about the advertising industry.
That way, when our interns start working, they can be in a full-time position, or even a paid internship, with the skills to negotiate salaries and titles, and even have the opportunity to leverage what we give them. let’s pour as a plinth.
Highlights of the experience of the direction of The Inturnship?
Seeing everyone start their careers – from our inspirations to the people who helped create the program – go off and work in amazing programs and companies has been so cool. People have left to work at Google, Droga5, Martin Agency and many others, and knowing how supportive everyone is, not just the founding members but also the people who have gone through and left the program, has been so fulfilling, and it’s like we’ve really built our own family.
One of the coolest things was seeing someone I looked up to before applying to Brandcenter, seeing their name on the program as a mentor. So seeing the reach of The Inturnship has been amazing. The way people have met us and found this program for themselves, whether through LinkedIn or Instagram or simply word of mouth, reminds everyone that – like this program – this industry is small but she is also incredibly supportive. So I think The Inturnship is a testament to that kind of mentality and it’s really refreshing to see that.
One of the most surreal moments I will never forget is receiving the email that The Inturnship won a Silver Anthem Award, beating huge brands like Pepsi and Snapchat. The Anthem Awards are hosted by the Webbys as a way to celebrate purpose-driven work, and seeing us be recognized internationally was so surreal. I was so excited that I literally called everyone screaming!
Does The Inturnship continue?
Yes! We have officially become an LLC, so we are still actively recruiting participants, and have just brought in four new clients. We’re growing and we don’t plan on stopping anytime soon.
What was your favorite college class?
My favorite graduate course was called Persuasion with Peter Coughter. He literally wrote the book on presentation skills. It’s called “The Art of the Pitch: Persuasive and Presentation Skills That Win Business”.
It is an incredible read, because it is instructive but also very funny. Peter is an amazing teacher. The way this class is run, we can almost talk about anything we want as long as it relates to a specific topic. He critiques us on our stage presence, our announcement and pacing, and our overall ability to convince or persuade the class to agree with an idea. It reminds everyone of the importance of storytelling. This course is really fun. Storytelling is the backbone of the advertising industry, and Peter Coughter knows that better than anyone.
My favorite teacher in my VCU undergraduate studies was Jessica Collins. I still love him. Jessica has always been my biggest supporter. I think of everything I did during my undergraduate experience, and since then I have been able to do it thanks to his support. She’s always been a cheerleader, not just to me, but to all of the publicity students at VCU. She’s the first to know everything I’ve done. She is awesome.
What is your favorite place on campus?
The Graduate Student and Faculty Research Center on the fourth floor of the library is my favorite place. The architecture and design of the area is stunning as it is so open and the windows let in so much natural light.
A quote that is close to your heart?
“What matters is not whether people are good or bad. What matters is if they try to be better today than they were yesterday.
I always think of this quote because it reminds me to always treat people with grace and know that there is always room for improvement. Whether it’s personal growth or professional growth, nothing is ever over and we can always strive to be better.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received? Or the worst?
“Don’t find problems, find solutions.” I think it’s important to be able to find issues and raise red flags as you see them, but we need to do more than just report issues. We should also come up with ideas on how to improve things. Being proactive and finding a solution, as well as ways to bring it to life, will always go a lot further.
What motivates you?
Ability to have an impact. One of the biggest motivations for me is knowing that I could have potentially created something that would have had a positive impact on someone else’s life, no matter how big the impact.
Why did you choose to participate in VCU?
The people. I chose to participate in VCU because I knew people here were going to be creative, smart, and inspiring, and I wanted to be around that kind of energy. The folks at VCU are the kind of people who make you want to not only be better, but to do better.
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