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Employment statistics make it difficult to gauge whether or not agency intern programs are successful in keeping the best and brightest of the bunch in the industry.

Some graduates of these programs, such as Marc Stephensen Strachan, chief marketing and operating officer at Vigilante, New York, are attaining prominent positions in the industry. Mr. Strachan participated in the American Association of Advertising Agencies' Multicultural Advertising Intern Program.

For Paul Angles, 32, chairman-CEO and founder of Big Bang Media, Manhattan Beach, Calif., an Internet advertising agency, his 1987 MAIP internship was instrumental in getting him into advertising. A business and engineering major at Rice University in Houston, Mr. Angles saw a notice about the program and applied at once.


Mr. Angles worked as a copywriter at Ogilvy & Mather Direct, New York, on Nestle USA's Carnation brand and Microsoft Corp. That internship led to a job in the agency's Los Angeles office after graduation.

After a stint as a freelancer and some work with Dentsu America, Los Angeles, Mr. Angles started an interactive company, which he left to start Big Bang.

"Advertising is one of the more open industries in terms of being encouraging of people of all backgrounds, says Mr. Angles, who is of Cuban heritage. "Creativity here is celebrated, it helps the industry become much stronger."

Douglas Holloway, 44, exec VP-network distribution-affiliate relations for USA Network, also got his start through MAIP in 1977. He worked on Procter & Gamble Co.'s Duncan Hines brand at the agency then called Compton Advertising, New York (now Saatchi & Saatchi), while getting his master's in marketing and finance at Columbia University. He soon left the agency business and moved to product management on the client side.

Unlike Mr. Angles, Mr. Holloway found the agency business wasn't very welcoming to minorities, particularly in account management.

"There is some glass ceiling activity going on," says Mr. Holloway, an African-American. "The number of minorities in the last 20-25 years is not substantially higher, which indicates the retention and promotion rate is not adequate."

One of Mr. Angles MAIP classmates, Jeffrey Marshall, managing director at Spike/ DDB, New York, began his career in account management and shares Mr. Holloway's view of career stagnation for minorities.

Mr. Marshall interned in 1987 at BBDO Worldwide, New York, and took the post of assistant account exec there after graduation. After two years, he jumped to McCann-Erickson Worldwide, for a different atmosphere and an account exec title. In the 10 years he has been in the industry, Mr. Marshall has switched jobs five times to land at his current post.

"I did come to understand that movement wasn't a bad thing," he says. "Like I tell the students I mentor, `Do you want to continue to wait your turn or do you want to open doors for yourself?' "


Mr. Marshall, an African-American, cites aggressive career management and frequent movement as his recipe for success for minorities. He says that none of his MAIP classmates who have stayed at one agency has attained a significant position of influence in management and agency business.

By Mr. Marshall's estimation, only 12 of 100 to 150 of the MAIP interns he knows have "gotten somewhere" in the industry.

"Even in '99, it's a naive notion to enter an agency and expect to rise through the ranks," he says.


Mr. Marshall also gives credit to mentors in MAIP for giving him career focus and broad industry outlook. Other minority executives agree that guidance from an industry insider was instrumental in helping them along the career path.

Mr. Holloway says he was at the right place at the right time when he entered the cable TV industry and became successful. He credits Kay Koplovitz, then-president of USA Networks, for giving him the opportunity.

"I was hired by a woman who was very interested in breaking down barriers for minorities," he explains. "She mentored me, and it made all the difference in

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