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ELEVATING OUR INDUSTRY THROUGH MAIP
The mission of the 4A’s Multicultural Advertising Intern Program (MAIP) is to provide and showcase the advertising, marketing and entertainment industry with the best talent through world-class development opportunities.
From media planning and buying to strategy and art direction and account management, MAIP provides an opportunity for students to receive guidance from industry professionals, allowing them to build a platform as they begin their careers in advertising, media, marketing and other related fields.
The 22-week program typically pairs fellows with a mentor based on location, discipline or agency/organization. However, with mentorship sessions held virtually, it allowed fellows to connect with professionals across the country.
With 155 agencies/industry partners and over 200 industry professionals participating in the 2021 fellowship, Hart was honored to have two individuals serve as mentors this year: Senior Media Planner/Buyer Brittany Wise and Vice President, Corporate Communication and Content Jeff Lutz.
As the program came to a close, Brittany and Jeff sat down with Moderator and Corporate Communications Specialist Heather Klatt to discuss their MAIP mentorship experience and the impact this generation may have on the industry.
Why did you choose to be a mentor with MAIP?
Brittany Wise: When they -- Hart-- presented the opportunity, I thought, I don't know if I would be a good candidate. Actually, Kira, my direct boss, said, “I think you're still young enough that you remember what it feels like, but old enough that you have some wisdom behind you, that you’re relatable but can offer some wisdom.” I said, “You know what? You're right. I have nothing to lose.” I had never actually heard of MAIP before, so after doing a little bit of research I thought, I think I would really enjoy it, and I think I could give a lot and I could learn a lot.
Jeff Lutz: There are very few opportunities to really give back in our industry in those ways. So it felt like something unique and different and a chance to kind of expand their horizons. The other fact is, I know the kind of makeup of our industry, and it was cool to work with individuals who may be able to teach me. We were learning from each other in the mix and I thought, you know, anytime you can create that atmosphere and meet new people along the way, that’s great. It was a cool opportunity.
When you were starting your career, did you have someone who served as a mentor?
Brittany: I did not. I was that weird person who didn't pursue any internships in college. I didn't take advantage of those. So, I think that's another part of maybe why I wanted to do it, because I didn't have anyone (to teach me). And this is just a great opportunity for me to kind of lend that hand to someone.
My mentee was from Russia, and she doesn't have anyone. So I told her to lean on me for the questions you feel are stupid and you’re maybe afraid to ask at your normal agency. I'm happy to answer them.
Jeff: Not really. I think back on my career... I didn't know I was going into PR until I was offered a job in PR; that’s probably the best way of saying that. In my first few years in PR, it was all about good collegial relationships with colleagues because we were all going through the recession together. We were losing clients, losing colleagues on a frequent basis. So it's just, you know, the respect for the colleagues. Then my manager at the time was great at mixing together professionalism and a little bit of craziness. I think that helps a great deal.
How did a typical mentorship session run?
Brittany: We met each week via Teams video call for about a half-hour. We would talk about our days in the past week, how things went, and then we just kind of talked about whatever. If she was working on a project, she would show me and we kind of talked through what it would look like. She was on the media planning side of things, which was something she has never done before. So we would talk it through. You know, she would say “...they said this. I don't know what it means.” And so I would say, “OK, well, let's talk through it and I'll tell you what it means.” Any resources I would find, I would send them over to her and we might talk about it. Toward the end she was really looking for jobs. So we did a lot with her resume. She’s not sure planning and buying is for her, so we talked a lot about what she's interested in, how we can translate it into advertising or into agency life. We did a lot with interview practice and how you would approach different questions and the questions to ask, kind of setting her up for success for all these interviews as she was starting to get locked in.
Jeff Lutz: We did every other week for like an hour and a half. My mentee -- I'll call her a teammate in this case -- they paired us together because they thought her background was public relations. And when we got online, she says, “Oh, it's not really public relations, it's strategy. But I have a minor in PR. So if we want to talk about that ...” I said, “No. Let's talk about what you want to achieve.” I found her to always be thinking outside the box, and we’d kind of riff from time to time on different topics. It was just learning about her world, the challenges she was facing on a different path, and we would always kind of work through those challenges. She was somebody who you could tell just thought differently, and I think that's what made the conversation so natural, because it wasn't like “today, we're going to talk about A, B and C”, it was, let me know what's on your mind and let's build from that.
What were you able to learn from collaborating with someone just getting started in the industry?
Brittany Wise: My mentee had already graduated but she was doing an internship, and this was another opportunity to get more experience. I remember being in her shoes. When you don't have something locked in after you graduate, it can be really scary. Being able to see from her perspective, ... I remember being very scared, but she was very optimistic. It was a good learning point, realizing that sometimes not knowing everything is not necessarily a bad thing. Someone like myself, I like to know what's going on at all times, and I don't like surprises. So for her to be so optimistic, I really was able to enjoy it and kind of take in her spirit and her youthful spunk.
Jeff Lutz: My mentee’s comments in our final meetings were about the PR “voice,” as if it's like this thing, this being that's restrictive -- that's not open to alternative voices, not welcoming, all these different things. It made me really rethink my own approach; Am I part of this? Am I perpetuating that same limitation or am I working with colleagues who are doing that? That was probably the biggest thing that struck me. The other thing was optimism, quite honestly, optimism for the future of individuals like my mentee who, you know, I'd love to steal her and bring her here at some point because she was just such a go-getter. This is somebody who got a degree in 2020 but didn't know if she would get a job right away because of the pandemic, and went for her master’s. That's who this person was, just always doing and learning and creating.
What are you looking forward to as the next generation enters the industry?
Brittany: You know, I feel like I'm an old millennial, or maybe I just have an old soul. But this next generation is more outspoken, and they stand up for what they believe, and I think that's something that we haven't seen before. They're willing to stand up more for what they believe. And I appreciate that.
Jeff: The big thing, I think, specifically from a PR perspective, is that they don't look at PR as a box. PR is a type of tactic within a greater communication strategy. These individuals are not typecast. So somebody like my mentee, who has a touch of PR background, is thinking in a strategic sense, thinking from a marketing perspective. Her value is endless to an agency versus somebody who's typecast in the strategy role.
Why was it important for you, Hart and others in general to participate in a mentorship program?
Brittany: At Hart, I feel like we have great people who have great experience. I look at the Columbus office and we all come from every agency in Columbus. So the fact that Hart is bringing in all the other agencies and different companies into the office, I think that is very telling of our experience and what we can bring. I think what's special about MAIP is that it is a real opportunity for multicultural students, whereas they might not have had this opportunity because maybe they don't know someone in the field. We live in a world where maybe the opportunity isn't as present as it would be for someone else.
I really enjoyed it and I'm so fulfilled by it. And I was honored that they even picked me to do it. But I think we as an agency have an opportunity to help lead the next generation to success.
Jeff: I think there are two big reasons. One is you never know when you'll find your next generation. You always have to be feeding the fire of individuals, and you don't know when you're going to find great talent. You have to keep expanding your communications circles. If those things don't happen, we're not creating those engagements. We won't find great talent like yourself, Heather, or those diamonds in the rough, or we won't find those individuals who can be a part of that next generation, so that's uniquely important.
It's also important that we’re growing the brand of our industry. So we're both uniquely representative of our agency, but we’re also representative of the greater industry. And if we can find, through one avenue or another, that it opens up new perspectives for our agency, either via issues or via individuals, then we should always try to find those opportunities. We're not good as an echo chamber. We need those alternative voices to join the mix and add new perspectives.
If you are looking to get involved in a program like MAIP, we would strongly suggest you do. For more information on the topic, contact us!