As the final summer of my undergraduate career began to loom on the horizon, my top priority was to gain work experience through an internship program. I expected to learn about basic business operations, build my network and apply the skills I’ve acquired in the classroom to real-life situations. Like many college students, I expected the majority of my responsibilities to be what others in the office consider ‘grunt work’; making copies, delivering coffees, and other mundane tasks.
I never anticipated that I would create meaningful relationships, feel like my voice is heard, or be able to take ownership of projects that bring value to the company. And I definitely didn’t prepare to do this from the comfort of my own bed.
All of this and more was made possible, however, through my virtual internship at R+M.
I first became aware of R+M when I met Brett Hartsfield, an associate creative director, who casually told me how much he loves his job. Immediately intrigued, I researched R+M and discovered that the company is a Certified B-Corp, employing #AgentsofGoodness who focus on creating experiences for brands that better our health, well-being, and social responsibility. I am passionate about business being used as a force for good, and after meeting members of the team who shared that same passion, I knew that the summer marketing internship R+M offered would be the perfect fit for me.
With all of the uncertainties that came with COVID-19, many companies had to cancel their internship programs. However, I never felt unsure about my internship position at R+M as the company didn’t miss a beat, and adapted the program they offer into a virtual program. R+M was able to exceed all of the expectations I had of an average internship, because R+M isn’t an average brand agency. The internal relationship that the team has with each other is genuine and they feel like a family, each member learning from each other and working together like a well-oiled machine.
During the first week, I was able to understand why R+M is proud to be Referral Grown. The relationships formed with clients are built from trust, which comes as each person brings their all and goes above and beyond what is asked of them. Myself and another marketing intern were able to learn about the internal process behind each of the services offered, as well as sit in on client meetings and ideate with other members of the team. I was soon given my own responsibilities that provided me a number of opportunities to expand my knowledge, as well as produce work of significance that made me feel like I was a valuable part of the team — social media development, event strategy, and brand content. Because of this internship, I am more confident in my own abilities and have gained insight into the hard work it takes to be such a successful brand agency.
A Typical Day as a Virtual Intern at R+M
Every morning I would wake up and get ready for my first video call, which if it was a Tuesday, meant 9am Zoom meetings with the entire team. Whether it was expressing client love or catching up on each others’ weekend adventures, every member of the team was able to show their smiling faces and feel like they were all back in the office together again. These weekly meetings and all the ones in between, allowed me to create meaningful relationships with the members of the team that I will cherish forever.
After my morning meeting, I would check my Accomplishment Tracking Sheet, where I was able to see assigned tasks, descriptions, and their due dates. This has been incredibly helpful to see my own progress throughout the program, as well as note where I have been able to contribute materials of significance to the company. Between client meetings and internal ideations through the use of Zoom and Google Hangouts, I worked on my Accomplishment Tracking Sheet. I was able to contact any member of the team to use as a resource, and always felt like my voice was heard.
What I Learned?
The amount that I’ve learned over the course of this 2-month virtual internship has been more valuable information relevant to my career than I’ve learned over the past 3 years at college. Now, I am able to understand a lot of the ‘agency lingo’ spoken around the office, including terminology such as copy, deliverable, calls to action, and engagement. I’ve learned I loved being able to ideate with brand strategists about the THIRST process, something I had heard of in my marketing classes but wasn’t able to experience until now. The THIRST process enhances the agency’s ability to gain valuable information from the client and their target audience about how they are perceived in the market, making it an essential component when it comes to a successful brand foundation.
I have always known to be an inquisitive student and my favorite question is always ‘why.’ Growing up I was shamed by the other students for asking too many questions, but I was embraced at R+M for my critical thinking. Finally, I was comfortable with my curiosity and even better I was given an answer for every question. I learned that every single action, word, and creative content has intent behind it, and every decision could be explained and proven because every step taken has its own purpose. Most importantly, I learned that success comes with trust from your clients and trust within your team. Creating meaningful relationships is key to loyal clients and future success.
R+M is committed to the growth and success of its community, constantly seeking out areas of improvement internally and externally. Applications for fall design interns are currently open and will close August 12th. If you have a creative mind, good sense of humor, and a love for commercial design, go check it out.