Trying on the Future for Size

Internships are an increasingly important part of launching a successful career.

Around two out of three students complete at least one internship during their college years, and for good reason—more than half of them land a job as a result.

Nor do the rewards end there. According to one study, new hires who have completed an internship earn at least 10% more than others who did not. And the benefits go both ways. In addition to providing students with a real-world glimpse of the working world, internships also give businesses an opportunity to sharpen their hiring process with an up-close look at job candidates.

WayMaker Journal talked with a group of successful interns about what they learned, how it helped them, and what businesses can do to make the experience more rewarding all round.

KENNEDY AYRIS ADEJUWON, 23
Graduated from Dillard University in New Orleans in 2019, with a degree in business administration with a concentration in marketing. She lives in New York City, where she is a multiplatform marketing coordinator for Disney & ESPN Media Networks at The Walt Disney Company.

Where did you intern and what did you do?
Throughout my collegiate career, I interned with marketing agencies, PR firms, institutes, corporate America and more. From NOCCI (a special events company) to the Spears Group and Deloitte, I was able to learn from clients as well as provide them with the resources that they were looking for. My most notable experience was through the Louis Carr Internship Foundation (LCIF), where I was selected and placed at BET HER in NYC.

How did interning help prepare you for your career?
My internship experience was a pipeline to where I am today. There are not many experiences that provide you with professional mentorship while allowing you to be a sponge in areas you may not have ever considered.

What was the best part of your internship experience?
Being able to make meaningful connections and form relationships. Because of the Consumer Insights relationship that I gained, I was able to pitch solid ideas with supporting research. A couple of ideas that my cohort pitched were: streaming services (BET+) and finding more ways to connect with Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) — like bringing back the airing of these college football games.

What was the most challenging aspect of your internship?
Working with peers who were not as passionate as I was–it’s not every day that you stumble across an opportunity that allows you to put theory into practice. Assisting in the first-ever BET HER Awards show was an honor, and every late night was worth it.

What advice would you give someone pursuing an internship?
Use every resource at your fingertips to help propel you as a candidate. High-value internships want to know that you are not trying to waste their time, so show them that you are an asset! These experiences allow you to be well-versed as well as learn what you like and don’t like before committing to a full-time career.

What advice would you give to companies offering internships?
It is just as important to have great advisers/mentors as it is candidates. Wisdom in the workplace is priceless and also sows a seed into others that aspire to be the best they can be in the workplace.

CALVIN HILL, 22
Graduated from Xavier University in Cincinnati, this year, with a degree in business marketing. He lives in Cincinnati, where he is a sales intern for Enterprise Holdings.

Where did you intern and what did you do?
In 2018, I interned for Groupon as a Business Goods Analyst through the LCIF program. I was able to acquire skills such as learning how to use the Salesforce platform to accelerate master records for Groupon’s categorized goods. In addition, I gained knowledge on utilizing SQL software to properly implement queries in the weekly goods Excel project.

How did interning help prepare you for your career?
Interning helped because I was in a position where I had to adapt quickly to a new environment and utilize my resources. I had to learn how to problem-solve in a quick-pace work environment and be confident in my efforts. In addition, it allowed me to realize the importance of networking and maintaining relationships across all areas within a company.

What was the best part of your internship experience?
Being able to learn various amounts of information from all departments within Groupon. Every day I was learning something new that I didn’t know would be so impactful on my future and my career.

What was the most challenging aspect of your internship?
Planning: I had to learn to plan quickly based on importance and time. Every day I had multiple meetings with different people; however, I didn’t plan correctly and made a lot of my work days more difficult than they had to be. As soon as I started to get in a rhythm and was seeing how to correctly plan my days, I felt a lot more productive rather than rushed.

What advice would you give someone pursuing an internship?
Be open to different opportunities and add to your skill set. You can never learn too much, and the more you learn will only allow you to be versatile and a more appealing candidate to future employers.

What advice would you give to companies offering internships?
Help their interns feel comfortable making mistakes. As an intern, entering a new job/internship can be nerve-wracking and intimidating. Therefore, it’s important for companies to provide a level of comfort for them so that they can produce high-quality work to the best of their abilities.

CAMERON HUBERT, 24
Graduated from Columbia College, in Chicago, in 2019, with a degree in television: producing and directing. He lives in Los Angeles, where he is an actor and marketing manager.

Where did you intern and what did you do?
I worked as an ad sales intern at BET Networks in Chicago. While there, my cohort passionately worked to develop upfront meeting strategies for sales executives, analyzed and curated new BET rate cards implemented companywide, and produced and presented compelling internship experience video to the entire Chicago team.

How did interning help prepare you for your career?
This experience helped uncover, develop, and ultimately strengthen my business acumen. From one-on-one mentoring to working on companywide projects, as well as resume/career assistance, this experience left no stone unturned in preparing us with the necessary tools that would aid in our growth as people and industry professionals.

What was the best part of your internship experience?
Being able to connect with great and genuine people who continue to champion my constant evolvement. From my fellow interns to every executive, the relationships I’ve garnered will always be the highlight of my time there. BET was my home away from home, and I’m thankful to always be a part of that family.

What was the most challenging aspect of your internship?
The healthy challenge that aided in my growth is from one of Mr. Louis Carr’s key mantras, “You have to be comfortable with being uncomfortable in order to grow.” While interning, I was still choosing a life path, and I’m thankful to now be living and growing in it. His words resonate with me in every choice I make and continue to serve as a reminder to simply choose and conquer healthy challenges every day.

What advice would you give someone pursuing an internship?
Throughout an internship experience, a willing and eager spirit to learn, grow, and evolve are the major keys to unlocking every door and opportunity. With this, you may even develop the spirit to create a new door for yourself! But it starts with an internal and unwavering belief that you are there for a reason and should excel unapologetically.

What advice would you give to companies offering internships?
Have a thorough program in place for the interns with an onboarding component and projects already set in place throughout the duration of the internship. As a large corporation, it is important to remember that the internship opportunity you offer may be the first chance a college student has to develop themselves professionally and showcase their skills for a full-time role. Because of that, I would encourage companies to put their interns to the test and show up prepared with weekly projects that will actually aid the company, provide suggested readings, and set up meetings with team members.

DAVID HUNT II, 22
Graduated from Langston University, in Langston, Oklahoma, this year, with a degree in business management with a minor in finance. He lives in Oklahoma, where he is a student-athlete pursuing job and grad school opportunities.

Where did you intern and what did you do?
BET in Chicago, where I shadowed different employees in different departments of the work area while assisting them with tasks and projects. I also got the opportunity to make mock projects with the fellow interns I was partnered with.

How did interning help prepare you for your career?
Interning at BET opened my eyes to the level of professionalism that is expected in a serious work environment. Focusing on the employees’ organization and time management when it came to the tasks at hand has helped me in more ways than one since.

What was the best part of your internship experience?
Working with my fellow interns and creating solutions to problems with them. All three of us came from different areas and we also had different backgrounds. This resulted in us having different ideas and viewpoints that we later put together in order to accomplish the tasks that we had at hand.

What was the most challenging aspect of your internship?
The most challenging yet rewarding aspect was shadowing employees in their given area. I found out that most of them had been doing their job for almost as long as I’ve been alive, which meant that they were experts at certain topics that I had no clue about. Despite this, I was still able to learn a lot due to the fact that I was guided well by these same people.

What advice would you give someone pursuing an internship?
Don’t get caught up in finding an internship that directly correlates to your major in school. Instead, look for internships where you will both learn new skills and be able to make lifelong connections.

What advice would you give to companies offering internships?
Trust their interns with big tasks for both the interns’ benefit and the company’s benefit. Giving interns a sense of fulfillment while accomplishing tasks in the work area will always result in a win-win.

JASMINE JOHNSON, 24
Graduated from North Carolina A&T State University in Greensboro, N.C., in 2019, with a degree in multimedia journalism. She lives in Troy, Michigan, where she is a brand strategist at Yardstick Management.

Where did you intern and what did you do?
I had the unparalleled opportunity to intern at BET Networks in Chicago as an advertising and sales intern. While there, I worked directly under the President of Media Sales and developed compelling upfront meeting strategies for five account executives, analyzed and created new BET and BET HER rate cards, attended sales meetings with account executives maintaining notes and managing request for proposals, and hosted presentations analyzing the BET experience and awards as well as the Black Girls Rock! awards. I additionally interned at Pace Communications, a full-service advertising and marketing agency in Greensboro, N.C., as an edit intern. My role allowed me to fact-check and edit the Spring/Summer issue of Walmart World Magazine, which is nationally distributed to employees, and manage the summer editorial calendar.

How did interning help prepare you for your career?
Having multiple internships gave me the opportunity to explore different occupational paths and specializations that suited my communications and entertainment interests, allowing me to determine what I wanted to focus my talents on early in my career. I learned the importance of building my professional network, strengthened and increased my confidence in my writing abilities, improved my professionalism, and ultimately, boosted my marketability for future long-term positions.

What was the best part of your internship experience?
The network I obtained through my internship experience is without a doubt the best part of my time as an intern. I purposefully shadowed several team members in different departments to not only soak up new information and retain skills about roles I previously did not understand, but also to get to know my co-workers on a personal level. For me, the connections I came out of my internships with led to valuable, enriching relationships and even mentorships that I still have today.

What was the most challenging aspect of your internship?
Speaking up and asking about areas of business I didn’t understand. What I now realize is that an internship is what you make of it. You have to take ownership of your career early on and ask for what you want.

What advice would you give someone pursuing an internship?
I would suggest doing research on the internship program itself and the job recruiter/poster. What made me stand out in the interviews I received for internships was knowing small facts about my interviewer that I was able to find on LinkedIn or the company website. It allowed for me and the interviewer to connect on a deeper level, and it showed that I was interested enough in the role to go above and beyond. I additionally asked thought-provoking questions like, “What professional development opportunities are available?” and “As a current employee, how would you describe the current culture of your workplace?”

What advice would you give to companies offering internships?
Have a thorough program in place for the interns with an onboarding component and projects already set in place throughout the duration of the internship. As a large corporation, it is important to remember that the internship opportunity you offer may be the first chance a college student has to develop themselves professionally and showcase their skills for a full-time role. Because of that, I would encourage companies to put their interns to the test and show up prepared with weekly projects that will actually aid the company, provide suggested readings, and set up meetings with team members.

A Doorway to Opportunity: The Louis Carr Internship Foundation

Founded in 2003, the Louis Carr Internship Foundation is a nonprofit established to help “pay back” some of the kindness so many people showed WayMaker founder Louis Carr over his career. The foundation provides paid internships for students of color who want to work in the media industry. Nearly 200 students have taken part in the program, with 50 launching careers in the marketing and media industries as a result. For information, go to www.louiscarrfoundation.org.