How We Got the Most Out of Our Summer Intern

August 7, 2017

By Elliot Lum



This summer, the ANA's Educational Foundation hosted an intern for several weeks. After meeting Kyle and introducing him to everyone, we quickly got him started on developing a social media playbook and communication strategy, which would be his main role. The goal was to leverage what Kyle already knew — digital — and translate his instincts into a business context. It's not hyperbole to say our team learned as much from him as he learned from us.

Our philosophy toward summer internships is based on five principles:

  • Action Learning: We wanted Kyle to have ownership over a project that he could work on throughout the summer and achieve an outcome that he could sell to future potential employers. Whenever we tasked him with a job beyond the social media playbook, we felt it was important to always explain how what he was doing fit into the larger picture.
  • Big Picture Exposure: It was important for Kyle to come to all of our meetings, whether he had a role or not. With some meetings, he was just a fly on the wall. We wanted to give him context for why all of our meetings happened, who the players were, and what we were trying to accomplish. That way, he could understand how things got done in a corporate context.
  • Access and Connections: While meeting exposure was important, we wanted him to connect with several of our board members to get a sense of what their role was and the challenges they faced. Those were invaluable connections for Kyle's post-grad goal of working in a creative agency. Those board members, along with the president of our foundation, took the time to give him professional advice.
  • Constant Feedback: Our summer intern didn't know what he didn't know, so it was important to give him constant feedback. Whenever there was a misstep or a gap in communication, we addressed it immediately. It was for his benefit to know what happened, why it happened, and how he could do it better the next time.
  • Listening to His Perspective: At the ANA Educational Foundation, we focus our time on thinking about how to nurture talent from college into the marketing and advertising industry. All of us who work at the foundation are far removed from college. We relied on Kyle's perspective to give us a benchmark for how programs we are developing might be received by a college audience. He provided an incredible sounding board for us to test out our ideas.

As we think about rolling out an industrywide summer internship program, we will keep these principles in mind and sharpen them as we look to bring fresh new talent into the industry. We are true believers in the next generation of talent, and we look forward to developing programs that help onboard them into our industry.


Elliot Lum is the head of talent strategy and program development at the ANA Educational Foundation.

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