August 26, 2020

Getting the Most Out of a Virtual Internship

Whether live or remote, college is restarting, and so we are saying good-bye to two amazing marketing interns who helped us manage a busy summer. In this post, Spark’s GenZers are strutting their stuff and sharing what—and how—they’ve learned.

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EMILY

FOCUS. Junior at Villanova University,  marketing major with a minor in communication.  
PASSION. I am very interested in art and music, and I love to get involved: I am the recruitment chair of the Wazobia African Dance Company and a member in National Association of Black Accountants, African Caribbean Villanovans, and Black Student Union.
WORK. I have always been interested in art and design but also the way in which we receive information as I know that the media we are exposed to can shape our views and perception of the world. This made me want to go into marketing to help tell some of the stories that people see on a daily basis.

ALAINA

FOCUS. Junior at the University of Pennsylvania, majoring in Fine Arts with a potential minor in English.
SPARK. Despite work in the digital marketing realm in previous summers, I had never interned for a company like Spark before, and didn’t really know what to expect! But I did know from the get-go that I was joining a small, highly collaborative team of creative thinkers and problem solvers, and that I was excited to soak up as much experience and wisdom as I could throughout my time here.
PASSION. My passion for art and design is rivaled only by my love for all things food and cooking. When I was 13, I combined my interests in food, design, writing and photography in the form of a baking blog called Crumbs and Nibbles (it’s been up and running ever since!) At school, I am heavily involved in Penn’s student-run food magazine, Penn Appétit, where I served a term as Creative Director and have worked on the photography and design teams since my freshman fall.

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Working at Spark means wearing a ton of different hats every day. During their several months on the team, our interns developed skills in five areas of focus. Here’s a quick rundown on each from Emily and Alaina:

ALAINA

CREATIVE. I started the summer helping to kick off a new project by designing creative assets and a template for an email newsletter. I also got a glimpse into the world of ad testing and iteration: I brainstormed copy for Google Ads campaigns, and tackled edits for a wave of Instagram ads, all of which allowed me both to hone my design skills and to gain insight into the key role that design can play in generating an audience’s clicks.

EMILY

ANALYTICAL. I started off my time at Spark doing landscape research for a large client, and I also learned how to use Facebook data for audience analysis.

ALAINA & EMILY

STRATEGIC.  One task that we worked on together was rethinking one of Spark’s in-house product concepts. This required landscape research, quick brainstorming, defining problem/solution pairs, collaboration, designing product mock-ups, defining target audiences, and public speaking—all of which culminated in us pulling everything together into a streamlined deck that clearly laid out our argument and told our story.

EMILY

MARKETING. I was given responsibility to coordinate, control, and create posts for Instagram and Twitter, enabling me to learn skills such as brand management, marketing, and digital marketing skills through hands-on experience.

EMILY

PROFESSIONAL. Spark decided it was time to improve their team headshots, so they contracted with an illustrator, Michelle D’urbano, to create portraits of every team member. I coordinated with Michelle to discuss the idea of the project, payment, and feedback on the portraits, acting as a liaison between the Spark team and Michelle.

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Since interns were 100% virtual, we had to be very deliberate about how learning took place. We used a series of “Lunch & Learn” video calls to explore a few key topics.

EMILY

THE VIRTUAL EXPERIENCE. I was happily surprised that we actually sat down as a whole team to teach not just the interns but everyone.

EMILY

PRO TIPS. The first Lunch & Learn hit topics like email etiquette and how to be a self-starter--general professionalism that you can take with you to any company for any career.

ALAINA

SELF-STARTERS. Being a self-starter means being self-motivated, proactive, always one step ahead—but, to me, it also means being collaborative and multidisciplinary, all attributes that seem to be defining features of Spark’s “office” culture (and may be even more important to pay attention to when all of our collaboration is virtual!)

EMILY

SELF-STARTERS. The “Self-Starter-dom” section of the presentation taught us about the importance of collaboration and communication with the team: how to be informed of what everyone else is working on and to support the project fully.

ALAINA

FINAL THOUGHTS. Aside from that, one other thing I’ve picked up on is the value in being present, engaged, and ready to switch gears at a moment’s notice depending on the group’s needs. Things move fast at Spark, so morning run-downs, frequent progress updates, and generally responding to Slack messages and emails ASAP have all been musts for me.

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Spark is increasingly targeting Gen Z customer groups, so we asked Emily and Alaina to share tidbits about how they spend their time and what trends and brands they follow.

Digital art…stalled job hunts…trying new hairstyles…finding less expensive ways to get the look I want…Tupac and Bob Marley…a friend who started a bakery out of her home kitchen…Summer Walker, Mahalia, and Drake…a friend who created a virtual mentoring program for young kids…Clifton strengths…Zoom-everything.

Thank you, interns—you have set a high bar for future summers!

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