Stuart Shapiro

Strategy Director

September 14, 2016

Filed Under

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#agencylife: What I Learned From My Digital Internship

Who says summer is digital’s slow season? Between our hackathon, a visit to the DNC, website launches, and year-end fundraising planning for clients like U.S. Fund for UNICEF, Blue State Digital’s offices were bustling these past couple months as we hosted 14 paid interns across 10 disciplines. They came to us from diverse backgrounds ranging from undergraduate students to PhD candidates to career changers and brought sharp skills and fresh perspectives to our client work (our interns don’t fetch coffee).

We loved hosting them—so much so that we’ve hired three and kept two on for the fall semester—and we’ve asked the group to share their favorite moments and some sage advice to future digital interns.

Alex Fillip, Digital Intern (Accounts & Communications)

One of the best parts of being an intern at BSD is that you never feel like you’re an intern. Even in my first week, I was doing real client work and my team made sure I always understood how my work was contributing to the larger project or campaign objectives. I was lucky to be able to support both the account management and communications teams—that proved to be a great way to figure out what I liked best and it gave me valuable perspective on both sides of the process.

For future BSD interns, my best advice is to:

  1. Find mentors and allies. Everyone here wants to see you succeed! Latch onto the managers and team members who can best help you and answer any questions you have along the way.
  2. Jump in. My internship experience was great for a lot of reasons, but one of the keys was that I jumped into anything and everything, even if it was something I didn’t really know how to do (back to advice #1: people here will help you, just ask!).
  3. Don’t be afraid to join the conversation. One of the pieces of advice I needed most throughout my internship was to speak up in internal meetings and offer my opinion or perspective (where appropriate). Who knows, something you say might spark a thought or serve as a reminder for your team!

Anh Nguyen, Data Products Intern

I have a long list of all the things that I love about interning at BSD: challenging projects, incredible company culture, hardworking and inspiring coworkers, free food, etc. But the best part about my experience here is the support and encouragement from my managers and others with whom I’ve worked. As a business student with a passion for but previously limited knowledge of technology, I’ve learned a tremendous amount about software, databases, various coding languages and platforms. I was able to combine this newfound knowledge with my business analysis skills to work on projects curated to help me grow both as a technical and business professional.

My one piece of advice to future interns is don’t sweat it. Whatever you don’t know now can always be learned. And as frustrated as you may be when your code/strategy doesn’t work, you will feel 10x more accomplished when it actually works (AND IT WILL WORK).

Interns at the Blue State Digital hackathon
Interns Cameron Gunn and Anh Nguyen with senior digital analyst Orwin Evenson at the BSD Hackathon

Melissa Barreto, Marketing Intern

I can’t believe I am writing about my internship experience when it feels like it just started yesterday! I vividly remember going up the elevator not knowing what to expect. I was greeted with a warm welcome from my manager and instantly knew I would have a great summer. I quickly learned that every single person in the agency is incredibly smart and nice. Everyone I encountered at BSD offered to help make my internship experience a memorable one—they offered advice, shared what they did on a daily basis, or simply tried to get to know me.

My favorite part about BSD is that everyone works together effortlessly to produce outstanding work. BSD offers real work you can boast about in your resume and with cool people you can learn from, all while you sip a cold beer and take in the killer views.

My piece of advice for those interested in interning at BSD is: don’t be afraid to put yourself out there, even if it means putting yourself in uncomfortable situations. It’s easier said than done, but you’ll have a great team rooting for you along the way!

Blue State Digital marketing team
Melissa Barreto, middle left, at lunch with the marketing team

Thelma Boamah, Front End Development Intern

I think the coolest thing about BSD is that even though you can be a developer or a digital communications professional in any context, it’s really nice to be able to use your skills to help organizations who are trying to do some good in the world.

My favorite part of the summer was the work—actually coding, figuring out why something wasn’t working the way I expected, reaching out to members of the front end team and them always making time to answer my questions and help me sort through confusing tasks. A key takeaway has been that learning and development is essential for developers at every stage of their career. A lot of Web and Product Development’s weekly meetings are dedicated essentially to peer teaching and learning.

Cameron Gunn, Data Science Fellow

Coming from engineering school, I wanted to try something different. BSD stood out to me for its exciting, diverse client base and mission. When I met my team, their passion and skill was immediately obvious! My supervisors were outstandingly supportive, and pushed me to design an internship that was right for my skills, my interests, and my goals. My projects were challenging, teaching me a lot, but my team was always ready to step in and answer my questions for me. When I arrived at the start of summer, I never dreamed that I would learn and accomplish so much in three months.

A highlight to me about working at BSD was that every piece of work you do makes a little difference to the world—an optimized donation page can help UNICEF raise more money, and multivariate testing can help Partners in Health reach more people with their message. Imagine how easy it is to get up and go to work in the morning with motivation like that!

I would recommend BSD to anyone interested in an internship in the sector. How often can you work somewhere with the rigor of the digital marketing space, but the mission to help some of the world’s most important advocacy groups?

Blue State Digital summer interns outside the New York office
(Clockwise from top) Cameron Gunn, Thelma Boamah, Nia Bronner, and Anh Nguyen

Stacey Lipschitz, UX Design Intern

As an intern at BSD, you get to work alongside extremely talented, kind, and creative people while immersed in real projects that make a difference. As a career changer getting acclimated to a new field, I felt it was the perfect blend of hands-on experience, meaningful work, and learning from the best in the business.

Travis Sheridan, Account Management Intern

My summer at BSD was fantastic. I worked with a team of bright, kind, and knowledgeable people on a wide array of digital challenges. I was made to feel welcome from day one, and was given real client work soon after.
BSD fosters a culture of learning by doing—I felt comfortable taking on difficult work, knowing that there was a supportive team always willing to answer questions and back me up. And, of course, it wasn’t all about work— an impromptu trip to see Obama speak at the DNC, amazing coworkers, happy hours, and plenty of free food made this summer at BSD one to remember.

Blue State Digital at the Democratic National Convention
Travis Sheridan with BSD colleagues at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia

Nichole Rosamilia, UX Design Intern

I had a lot of great experiences as an intern at BSD this summer. I spent a day learning from BSD designers from New York, DC, and Oakland at the UX Team retreat, and I participated in the annual company hackathon in Boston. But the most valuable part of the summer was the day-to-day work. I collaborated with talented people from many disciplines, including product management, visual design, front-end development, and of course, UX. Everyone was incredibly supportive, and my advice for future interns is just to be confident in your point of view. In one of my first project team meetings someone turned to me asked, “What do you think?” I quickly realized that at BSD, I brought a UX perspective that people valued, and I was going to be treated like any other professional on the team.

Like with any internship, your experience is what you make it to be. But at BSD, you’re set up for success. Here, you have all the tools, support, and mentorship you need to learn about what goes into a digital communications project or campaign and the digital marketing world as a whole.