Experience is still one of the best attributes any entry-level professional can offer, and internships are still one of the best ways for the ambitious to obtain it.
As agencies and corporations attempt to build more diversified workplaces, new programs are being offered and slots have been added to existing programs.
PARTNERSHIP FOR SUCCESS
Chicago Advertising Federation's three-year-old Partnership for Success recently developed an internship program for minority students. Chicago offices of major agencies, including DDB Needham Worldwide; Euro RSCG Tatham; Foote, Cone & Belding; Frankel & Co.; Jack Levy Associates; J. Walter Thompson USA; Leo Burnett USA; and Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide will open their doors to Partnership for Success candidates from midwestern schools.
"The first two years [of Partnership for Success] we focused on trying to get full-time positions for minority students," says Liane Adduci Urevig, co-chairwoman of Partnership for Success and VP-public relations director for Frankel. "We recognized few agencies were hiring full-time experienced people, minority or not. So we refocused to recruit for minority programs."
The paid internships will combine on-the-job experience with a mentor program and the opportunity for interns to interact socially with advertising professionals.
Other ad clubs also are cultivating minority candidates.
MORE INTERNSHIPS AVAILABLE
American Association of Advertising Agencies' Multicultural Advertising Internship Program expects to offer 100 agency internships in 1998. MAIP offered 69 internships in 1997 and 60 in 1996.
Boston Ad Club Foundation offered 33 internships with agencies and advertisers in 1997 and 30 in 1996.
Inroads, a national organization that places interns with many types of companies, including 15 agencies, offered 34 advertising internships in 1997 and 32 in 1996.
American Advertising Federation's Vance L. Stickwell Memorial Internship offers five positions a year. AAF also names the 25 Most Promising Minority Advertising Students, a list agencies use to identify potential job candidates.
Seven of the Boston Ad Club Foundation's 33 interns in 1997 were graduating seniors. All continued to work for agencies or clients once their internships ended.
Rhonda Jackman, Four A's manager of diversity programs, says 21 of MAIP interns were graduating seniors, but only eight went to work for advertising agencies. Six went on to graduate school and the remainder went into other fields.
"It doesn't seem like a positive," Ms. Jackman says, "but you have to realize that only 50% of the people [who accept internships] know exactly what they want to do."
Jackson State University Senior Cassandra Smith enjoyed her Inroads internship at Leo Burnett USA, Chicago, but she is not planning on a career in advertising.
TRIED MEDIA WORK
"Compared to other internships I've had, it was excellent," says Ms. Smith, who previously held internships with insurance groups. "But right now, my first choice is accounting. I just wanted to try something out of my major and find other things I might like to do."
Yet, an internship can sell a student on advertising as a career.
Clive de Freitas, research and planning associate, Ogilvy & Mather, New York, was a senior majoring in art history at the University of Chicago when he applied for a MAIP internship last year.
Mr. de Freitas worked 10 weeks at Y&R Advertising, New York, on an effort for American Home Product Corp.'s Advil brand. When the internship ended, he accepted the job at O&M where he works on the IBM Corp. account.
Mr. de Freitas says the best part of his internship was the opportunity he had to talk shop with mentor Joe Pullen, account supervisor, Saatchi & Saatchi, New York.
ONE OF THE FIRST
"When I started, I was one of the few African-Americans at Saatchi," says Mr. Pullen, who has been with Saatchi for three years. "The reality is, I still am. But this is the first generation [of minorities] that have the luxury of experimenting with different white-collar career paths."
Marc Stephenson Strachan, chief marketing and operating officer for Vigilante, New York, was a 1981 MAIP participant.
Vigilante is Chicago-based Burnett's guerrilla agency specializing in marketing to urban consumers. Vigilante is an agency of record for Scheiffelin & Somerset's Johnnie Walker Black scotch brand and releases its first creative effort in April.
Mr. Strachan was a MAIP intern at Saatchi when it was known as Compton Advertising. His experience motivated him to organize the MAIP Alumni Association as a mentoring resource.
"I had a very good experience at Compton Advertising," Mr. Strachan says, "but there have been situations in the past where the agency people are not well-briefed or well-prepared about the interns. So, you've got kids in these programs with nothing to do. They think `I'm making copies? Is it me?"'
"I wanted to bring people together so the next group are better prepared than we were," he says.