6 Things I Think About Our FORM Summer Internship

Have you heard about FORM? If you’re not familiar with our paid, eight-week, full-time internship program, where were you last summer?

Now in its second year, FORM is an immersive, real-life experience. It gives creative types a closer look at agency life but also a chance to live it the way we do every day. And after an exhaustive search, we can’t wait to welcome our next class of six interns.

June 5 will be the team’s first day in the office. Until then, here are six things I think about Wray Ward’s FORM summer internship.

1.     I thought we’d never top the summer of 2016. But I couldn’t be more thrilled about Year Two.

I’m excited about the challenge of repeating the success of Year One. As an added bonus, Wray Ward has a whole new crop of employees who didn’t experience the first edition of FORM. In fact, we’ve tapped into several of them, some of whom are in their first job out of college or are new to the agency world, to serve as mentors to the interns.

2.     We learned a lot from the first go-round.

We knew they were impressive, but we were still surprised by the level at which last year’s interns absorbed information, and by how much they enjoyed agency life. For most of us who’ve spent some time in the business, it’s easy to take parts of the job for granted, from interacting with smart, driven clients to shooting video. Last year, I’d ask our interns to sit in on routine meetings, and they’d come out and say, “Ohmygosh, I can’t believe this happened!” or, “It was so cool to see our client’s reaction to the creative concepts!” They’d stepped backstage for an eight-week, firsthand view of how an agency works. They saw how all of the messages they encounter and consume in the world are created. And there’s something eye opening about watching young people’s excitement at realizing how even something as everyday as a banner ad comes to life. 

3.     The best way to learn about marketing is to actually do it.

It’s easy to assume schools have it all covered. That they’re giving aspiring pros all of the tools they need to hit the ground running in a creative agency environment. And when it comes to things like teaching design fundamentals or producing great writers, that’s often true.

But there are a lot of nuances in this business, from building client relationships to managing workload. And some tools can’t be honed on any campus. For example, our 2016 team learned valuable lessons by presenting their work to Wray Ward leaders and getting feedback on their plans and creative executions.

We believe our role is to make this experience as immersive and real as possible. This is not a coffee-and-copies internship. FORM interns bring energy to the agency. They’re driven to work and to learn. When last year’s class finished their assignments, they asked for more. Keeping them busy became a constant challenge. But it benefits all of us – our agency, industry and the clients we serve – to grow the kind of talent FORM attracts.

4.     Teamwork makes the dream work.

Why is FORM so successful? One big reason is the fact that the program is so team-oriented. The designer will learn a lot about project management, because he or she will work alongside the PM on a daily basis and talk about morning projects at lunch. These individuals aren’t working in siloes. They’re sharing pieces of their own work. They’re getting exposed to other areas of the agency. They’re teaching each other. They’re supporting each other in their journey toward a common goal. They exemplify our agency’s maxim of We, Not Me.

Our model of building a multidisciplinary team and giving them a big project to lead from start to finish is different from most internships. It’s like giving new drivers the car keys and a roadmap. We give FORM interns the destination and a time limit and plenty of direction and encouragement along the way, but they’re ultimately steering the car. It’s a fun, positive, effective way to learn. 

5.     The next generation of creative professionals is really talented.  

This year, we picked six rock stars from a pool of 450 – more than double the applicants in 2016. In other words, we offered a slot to a whopping 1.33 percent of students who applied to FORM. The field was so talented, we wished we could welcome more.

Each of the six we selected did something special to stand out in the crowd, whether they demonstrated creative thinking or showcased their skills in a creative manner. With so much competition for six spots, a simple resume and cover letter didn’t fit the bill. For example, our PR intern created an Instagram feed to tell her story and why she wanted the job. It was clever and original, and it illustrated her personality and skill set in an attention-grabbing way.

Once the finalists got in front of our staff, we looked for a spark or a click – something that set them apart from a bunch of other talented, deserving applicants. We also reviewed each person with the knowledge that we weren’t hiring six individuals; we were building a team of complementary personalities and skill sets and work styles.

You’ll get to learn more about them in the coming months, but here’s a quick look at the class of 2017:

  1. Khari Pressley, copywriting; senior, University of Georgia
  2. Maddy Beard, design; senior, Penn State University
  3. Ruijia Zhang, video; junior, University of North Carolina
  4. Linda Horn, public relations; junior, Johns Hopkins University
  5. HwangHah Jeong, UX design and development; junior, Savannah College of Art and Design
  6. Laura Butler, client engagement; senior, University of South Carolina

6.     Time flies when you’re having fun, and eight weeks isn’t really that long.

Eight weeks feels like a long time. But FORM is a special experience for everyone, not just our interns, and that’s why it’s up to all of us to make sure their time with us is as valuable and action-packed as possible.

All of us at Wray Ward are committed to our mission to nurture and transform young talent. That’s why we can’t wait to see how the summer and the futures of six gifted interns unfold.

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FORM: Learning on the Fly

FORM: The Final Countdown

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