Insights in health & wellness branding


Good People and Substantive Work: Our 2022 Summer Internship Program

13 September 2022   |   Viv Maldonado

Overseeing AbelsonTaylor’s summer internship program this year was extremely gratifying. It was the agency’s first formal internship program, there was enthusiastic support for it at all levels, and we selected 10 exceptional undergraduates and recent graduates for our inaugural class. Over the course of 12 weeks, the interns made the program a resounding success, contributing significantly and demonstrating an impressive work ethic. Along the way, they also enriched my personal knowledge and appreciation of our agency and clients.

We wanted to give our interns real-world healthcare advertising experience that would expand their knowledge and skills, give them new perspectives, and add to their credentials, contacts, and portfolios. We also wanted to benefit the agency by tapping into the interns’ talents and fresh points of view to advance our work. And, of course, we hoped to identify potential future hires.

We assigned each intern to a department but exposed everyone to the people and operations of the full agency. This included meetings with other department heads to provide an overview of the agency’s history, organization, capabilities, and culture. We also involved the interns in “New Hire Week” in June, which introduced new staff to the agency and gave everyone opportunities to meet and socialize with their new colleagues (see preceding Well Said post for details).

The interns worked as team members on actual client accounts and ad hoc projects in addition to collaborating on a mock ad campaign presented at the end of the summer. I continuously heard great feedback from staff working with the interns and was personally blown away when I saw their mock campaign presentation. I was surprised and impressed by all they were able to accomplish in just 12 weeks, which prompted me to wonder what they were most surprised and impressed by during their time at AbelsonTaylor. Here are a few responses from four of this year’s class of interns.

Omar Alvarez, 22, a senior majoring in statistics and English at the University of Illinois at Chicago: “I was surprised by the welcoming atmosphere at AbelsonTaylor. I met a lot of truly nice people who were willing to share their knowledge and experience. I was also surprised to learn that you don’t have to be an advertising major to succeed at the agency. I met people who never thought they would go into healthcare advertising – one was a theater major – but they have good careers at AbelsonTaylor because it’s a place where people with diverse backgrounds can thrive.”

Kel Valice, 25, a 2022 graduate of the College for Creative Studies in Detroit with a bachelor’s in advertising design: “The big surprise for me was the people at AbelsonTaylor. Staff at all levels were open and welcoming, treating me as a respected colleague and showing confidence in my abilities. I also liked that I was given substantive work that helped me grow. I’ve had internships at other companies where I didn’t do meaningful work. And I was impressed by the various ways AbelsonTaylor exposed us to the inner workings of the company and encouraged cross-department networking.”

Blaine Lundt, 21, a senior in communications and global studies at the University of California at Santa Barbara: “I, too, was surprised by how gracious everyone is at AbelsonTaylor and by the overall quality and professionalism of the internship experience. I wasn’t getting coffee for people – I was doing planning work on five accounts and assisting with a new business pitch. I felt like my opinion mattered, my skills were valued, and that I was part of the team. I also got to see all of the agency and learn how different departments and teams interact, which makes me curious about other sides of the business.”

Paige Fitch, 21, a senior majoring in animation at Bradley University in Peoria, Ill.: “Echoing others, the surprise for me was AbelsonTaylor’s people and environment. Both are wonderful and really set the agency apart from others. I worked in Dose Studios on a variety of client and agency projects, which included creating a new look for AbelsonTaylor’s social media posts announcing promotions and new hires. Throughout my internship, I felt seen and heard, got involved with work that mattered, met a broad range of people I could learn from, and really enjoyed myself.”

I loved hearing these responses. There were a lot of unknowns as to how this program would turn out but hearing from the interns that it was a quality experience was very satisfying.

Some of this year’s interns will return to school with new perspectives on their career options. Omar, for instance, is now seriously considering healthcare advertising as a career. “When I interned with a credit card company, my data analytics skills were focused on mitigating risk and maximizing profits. That’s also part of what I did at AT this summer, but the difference is that healthcare marketing can truly improve people’s lives.”

For other students, like Blaine, this summer’s internship may have brought more clarity to their career planning process. “I’m not entirely sure what I’d like to do after graduation, but I know I’d like to shadow some account management teams and understand the responsibilities for different agency titles. My interests in organizational culture and HR organization have also been intensified by my internship at AT.” He’ll have new opportunities to explore these interest as he and another summer intern, Claire Sarosi, serve as part-time interns through the end of the year.

As for Kel and two other summer interns – Zac Finn and Kati Ballentine – they landed offers to join AbelsonTaylor as full-time staff members. Kel is now part of our highly regarded creative group and Zac and Kati are members of our growing integrated strategy group, Zac working in marketing intelligence and Kati in engagement.

I’m really proud of this year’s interns and salute them for their achievements and contributions during their three months with AbelsonTaylor. Wherever their futures take them, I wish all 10 of our class of 2022 summer interns great success and happiness.

Omar Alvarez
University of Illinois at Chicago

Kati Ballentine
University of Kansas

Annie Epstein
Northwestern University

Zac Finn
Cornell College, Iowa

Paige Fitch
Bradley University

Blaine Lundt
University of California
at Santa Barbara

Caroline Rumani
DePaul University

Claire Sarosi
Penn State University

Tranell Slaughter
College for Creative Studies, Detroit

Kel Valice
College for Creative Studies, Detroit

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About the Author

Viv Maldonado is an HR generalist at AbelsonTaylor who proudly planned and executed the agency’s first formal summer internship program in 2022.