Marketing students gain in-house agency experience through VCU internship

Marketing interns Isaiah Harvin, left, Daniel Slider, Mark Simpson and Kent Chapman work on their...
Marketing interns Isaiah Harvin, left, Daniel Slider, Mark Simpson and Kent Chapman work on their marketing plan to promote University Relations.
Photos courtesy of VCU School of Business

Marketing major Dorothy Yan always knew she would find the statistical, research aspect of the industry interesting. But she was surprised to discover how much she enjoys the creative side as well.

She might not have realized this while still a student at Virginia Commonwealth University, were it not for an invaluable internship with VCU’s Division of University Relations.

The Department of Marketing in the VCU School of Business collaborated with University Relations’ marketing office to offer the inaugural three-credit marketing internship this semester. University Marketing served as both mentor and client for the students.

“This internship made me glad that I decided to pursue marketing,” said Yan, who developed creative strategies and marketing tactics for her “client.” “It was really rewarding to actually see how research can shape how you address your target market. It was nice to see how things we’ve learned in class are actually applicable and useful in the ‘real world.’”

The internship touches on a number of the business school’s EPIC strategic plan pillars, most notably experiential learning, said Mayoor Mohan, Ph.D., assistant professor of marketing.

“Seven interns were selected and they worked in two teams to accomplish separate goals for University Relations,” Mohan said. “It has turned out to be a successful partnership and … we will be offering the internship course again in the spring semester.”

Tom Klug, associate vice president of University Marketing, approached Mohan with the idea.

“This is a great opportunity for students that are interested in working in marketing and communications,” Klug said. “To come in and experience it in, probably, a different way than they would if they just went out on a traditional internship. … We’re trying to put a little bit more structure to it, so that they have an opportunity to have a little more ownership and experience projects a little more beginning-to-end versus just doing a job.”

The interns split into two groups. The first team worked on the university’s “Make it Real” advertising campaign and identified marketing opportunities for next year’s incarnation, geared toward potential Generation Z students. The other team developed a marketing plan to promote University Relations.

Kent Chapman, left; Tom Klug, associate vice president of University Marketing; Daniel Slider; Isaiah Harvin; Mark Simpson; Dorothy Yan; John Buckner; Daija Johnson; Mayoor Mohan, Ph.D., assistant professor of marketing; and Bruce Huhmann, Ph.D., professor and chair of the Department of Marketing.
Kent Chapman, left; Tom Klug, associate vice president of University Marketing; Daniel Slider; Isaiah Harvin; Mark Simpson; Dorothy Yan; John Buckner; Daija Johnson; Mayoor Mohan, Ph.D., assistant professor of marketing; and Bruce Huhmann, Ph.D., professor and chair of the Department of Marketing.

Both teams yielded ideas that the division will likely implement, Klug said, and gained immeasurable experience.

That experience provided a boost of energy for Kent Chapman, who graduates this semester and is about to jump into the job market.

“It’s a huge change from the classroom, where you hear about what it’s like, to sitting in an office really trying to find your own direction,” Chapman said. “This was definitely reaffirming. Refreshing as well. I know now that this is something I really enjoy doing and would really enjoy making a career out of.”

As an in-house agency, University Marketing offers an experience, of which senior Isaiah Harvin knew he had to take advantage.

I know now that this is something I really enjoy doing and would really enjoy making a career out of.

“I really enjoyed the course, and learned a lot, but the most beneficial piece, and my overall reasoning for taking the internship, was trying to figure out how to navigate and understand working in an in-house agency,” Harvin said. “What was surprising was how flexible the culture was when working. Although deadlines are tight, the way in which we can accomplish these was flexible.

“I learned a lot about the way I work, lead and interact with account managers, designers, IT and much more,” Harvin said. “I would recommend for those who take this course/internship to be open to the experience that comes with it. Also to take the reflection seriously and progress can really be tracked over time for the better.”

 

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