No Ordinary Internship: What Makes FORM Different

  • Categories:

    Agency Life, Inspiration

  • Date:

    May 26, 2022

No Ordinary Internship: What Makes FORM Different

Agency Life Inspiration

Plenty of companies offer internship programs for students looking to expand their studies into the real world — it’s been a staple of corporate culture since the 1990s. Now, we don’t want to brag, but few companies offer an experience quite like Wray Ward’s FORM internship, which gives students the chance to live agency life the way we do every day.

As we welcome this summer’s crop of future stars, I want to answer some commonly asked questions as well as reflect on where the program started, what it means to those who partake in it, and where it’s headed in the future.

For those who may not know, what is FORM?

FORM is a lot of things: It’s a paid, full-time summer internship program where students build their portfolios and skills by working on real client projects. And while it might look like one, FORM is not an acronym — the name just highlights how this program is the platform for interns to get informed, perform at a higher level and transform over the course of 10 weeks.

Students who are chosen to take part in FORM work on real agency projects, taking what they know from school and applying it to a new setting. We want our interns to learn about the ups and downs of actual work — the excitement of delivering a project, the enlightening process of collaboration, the lessons learned from pushback, the pressure that can come from deadlines, all of it.

Most importantly, though, FORM isn’t just a program we run — it’s a passion for us. It’s a yearlong process full of collaboration and planning; the magic doesn’t just happen 10 weeks out of the year. We spend a lot of time and energy on building the most exciting and rewarding internship program around — that’s FORM.

FORM is also a rich pipeline of talent for Wray Ward. To date, we have hired 11 FORM applicants and interns into full-time roles.

How far has FORM come since it began six years ago? How has it changed?

FORM has evolved in all the best ways. When it first began in 2016, there were only five interns in the program for eight weeks; now, the program has expanded to nine interns across even more disciplines over the course of 10 weeks. The expanded timeline was actually an ask from interns and the Wray Ward employees leading the projects they were working on: They said that the extra two weeks would give them more time to get the experience they wanted, and I think they’re right.

Over the past few years, our already deep applicant pool has also become even more competitive — FORM attracts so much strong talent, which is a great problem to have. As we’ve refined the disciplines that interns work within, the interns themselves have become more refined as well. Our qualifiers for applicants have really evolved. We’ve even had international students from Sweden and China.

We’re also very proud of our commitment to diversity. This has led to an applicant pool that more accurately reflects the world we live in, and we take great pride in that.

What impact does FORM have on those who take part in it?

The impact is insurmountable — FORM interns essentially get to come in and live the way we do. They all have academic know-how outside of FORM, but this program gives them hands-on experience that’s invaluable. Our program allows them to receive constructive feedback and experience true collaboration while looking at what project ideation is, how it will affect real clients and what it’s like to make a mistake. It also gives them a chance to experience the feeling of a win when a client buys into their ideas. FORM immerses interns in agency life, providing them the opportunity to see their work come to life and enter the world in a tangible way.

It’s amazing to see the effects that FORM has on our interns. I remember how internships in the ’90s had interns just making copies and getting coffee, and that’s never been who we are. I love how our organization sees students working and getting real experience, exploring if this is the career path for them and where they want to go in life, and making informed decisions about their future.

What are some of my favorite FORM moments?

Personally, I love seeing when the interns “get it,” when their creative juices start flowing and they have that aha moment. I always have them take a look around the room when they start, telling them that this is their first day getting to know each other but that the relationships they develop over the course of their internship will become lifelong personal and professional relationships. Many times, these students are timid at first, but they build relationships, establish trust with each other, and hone their skills throughout their tenure. I walk around and touch base with them as much as I can, and it always fills me with joy to see them huddled up and talking through strategy, supporting each other, asking questions and sharing their ideas with our leaders, and seeing those ideas come to fruition. Interns come in with top-notch academic knowledge. FORM is where they put that knowledge into application. Watching them struggle early but work through challenges is a rewarding part of the journey for both them and me.

One special moment last year was, as a welcome gift, I gave our interns pennants for their respective schools to put in their workspace. At the end of their internship, they sent me a photo of the pennants displayed in a circle stating that it represented “nine schools, nine disciplines, nine friends, one amazing experience.” I keep that picture in my office as a reminder of how important nurturing the talent of tomorrow is.

Where will FORM go next?

I see us expanding into even more disciplines so that we can offer a greater number of interns the opportunity to get real agency experience. I also want to develop and implement a broader and deeper relationship with different colleges and universities that cater to these disciplines, so we can continue to bring in the best talent possible. We’ve also discussed cool ideas such as a more hands-on college recruiting program with our own “Wray Ward college champions” who can go back to their alma mater and help recruit — it would be a great way to get additional Wray Wardians involved in the FORM recruiting process. I see us hiring even more full-time talent through our FORM program.

Learn more about the FORM internship and how to apply for future years.

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