MAIP should be a familiar acronym in the communications world — the 4A’s Foundation hosts its Multicultural Advertising Internship Program annually. It partners with top agencies across the nation and provides the selected fellows summer internships. The highly competitive program is a world-class professional development opportunity for young talents of diverse backgrounds to launch their careers.
Three students from the University of South Carolina were chosen as 2020 MAIP fellows in February, and two more participated in the Virtual Engagement Program — their COVID-19 pandemic response.
Josh German ('20 mass communications) was one of the three. Goodby, Silverstein & Partners would have had him in San Francisco this summer. Fortunately, the agency kept the paid internship but offered it remotely. Missing personal interactions, German still enjoyed the work experience, the team and the company culture. “They have a diverse group of people to make a cohesive whole,” he says. “The team has a great disparity between preferences, beliefs and viewpoints of life.” As a communications planner, accounts he has worked on include Comcast, HP and BMW. He was glad when he was brought on full- time in August. “Here, I could ask questions and make ripple effects among so many people beyond myself.”
At GS&P, German has seen the virtual workplace give voices to people who have traditionally been left out of conversations. “They’ve clearly been conscious about what the agency, the industry and the world need,” he says. “When advertising campaigns seem tone-deaf to current events, it shows that the agency lacks a team that actively represents their audience.”
In the past four decades, the 4A’s Foundation has aimed to identify, develop, empower diverse talents and ensure that they enter and succeed in the industry. “MAIP educated the mindset that our unique perspectives are so valuable,” German says. “There is no way you don’t become a better person and a better future advertising professional out of the program.”
Barron Coleman (’20 advertising) was one of the fellows who went through the VEP because his internship was canceled. “This was my first professional opportunity out of college,” he says. “MAIP is a gateway for people of diverse backgrounds and cultures to enter the industry.” His favorite part of the VEP was the project-based training. In groups, he and other fellows partnered with an agency and built a campaign around a real client brief. “I could connect with talented people and collaborate on the specific project,” he says. “Constantly bouncing ideas around, we tried to use our strengths together well. I got to be more involved in research and design, too.”
CIC career services manager Shirisha Mudunuri, along with advertising sequence head Jeff Williams and Dean Tom Reichert, were proud of the J-school fellows’ MAIP experience. They adamantly encouraged students to apply last fall. They also share a same goal with MAIP — putting top talents on display and pushing them toward larger cities and markets. “We’re well-known as a great journalism school,” Mudunuri says. “But a lot of people don’t realize PR is our biggest major. We try to educate employers about the incredible talent we have at the CIC.”
Mudunuri continued to be a resource for students amidst the pandemic, albeit completely virtual. This was a good change, she says. Walking distance, parking, scheduling ... these are just a few things to consider before an in-person appointment. “We were not necessarily accessible to everybody all the time if you lived far away or didn’t have a car,” she says. “We don’t always think about those little nuggets of privilege that are not equal. I hope to some extent that’s improved because you and I can just talk over Zoom, you have equal access to me and the services we have wherever you are. That’s something important that perhaps we didn’t pay as much attention to before.”
Coleman’s “get involved” message not only applies to the students but also the alumni and the professionals. “Support these organizations in the CIC. Learn about them, talk about them, because students coming out of these opportunities will change the world and make it a better place.”