Alumna keeps door open for FIMS interns during COVIDBy Molly McCracken, BA’13 (MIT)
Growth Marketing Manager, myBlueprint
In June 2011, I was bartending at a tennis club and wedding venue when an email from the Faculty of Information and Media Studies (FIMS) Undergraduate Student Services arrived in my inbox.
The Web Team at Ivey Business School was looking for a paid intern for the rest of the summer.
Equipped with basic HTML knowledge and a portfolio from Mark Rayner’s MIT 2570A/B: Intro to Digital Imaging & Web Design course, I whipped together an application.
A few weeks later, I was in the basement of Alumni Hall in ill-fitting dress pants, scheduling tweets and migrating content management systems for Ivey. I was living in my student housing, getting a summer in London with an office job. At 19, I was already living the dream.
Little did I know I would graduate to land a full-time role, kicking off my career armed with real work experience, lifelong connections and, unfortunately, no better sense of workplace fashion.
It was all possible because of the FIMS internship program. A program I am proud and privileged to continue to support this year, and one I have supported in previous years.
When COVID-19 hit, many of us (and our industries) suffered tremendously. I know a number of fellow FIMS alumni who were furloughed or put on reduced hours as marketing spends, entertainment, and in-person events stuttered to a halt.
Working at myBlueprint, in a technology company that offers e-learning solutions, I was one of the lucky ones. Not only did I get to keep my job, I was able to hire a summer intern.
Many organizations that got by with minimal impact to their revenue still paused hiring. And as you can imagine, summer internships and co-ops were the first things to go. In Canada, 49% of students reported losing their summer job prospects in 2020.
The government chipped in with funding for students to help recoup financially from lost summer employment, but there are limited virtual options to make up for the loss of experience.
Students need money, yes, but they also need to work - to learn and experience the world out there. They need to apply their critical thinking skills, their writing chops, and communication skills in the environments they’ll be working in for the rest of their lives.
In the flux of the pandemic, planning for a fully-remote internship that would be valuable to both the company and the student sounds like a daunting task. But it’s actually an amazing time to offer an internship, support a student, and even get the return on investment your company wants to see.
For me. Working with a FIMS student this summer gave me life. I realize that sounds dramatic, but the amount of energy and excitement that a keen student can bring to your team is dramatic.
Our student was motivated, dedicated, and genuinely interested in the why and the how behind everything we did. And sometimes, in the monotony of our jobs, it’s a refreshing change to mentor the next generation.
Also, tactically speaking, having an intern kept me on the ball during this unusual summer. Having a student looking to me for direction forced me to stay organized, engaged, and communicative. I knew I had an example to set, so I couldn’t slack off.
For my company. I work for a small, nimble organization of 30 people, servicing more than one million users in Canada and a growing U.S. presence. Our FIMS intern was an extension of my one-person marketing team at a time when I really needed it.
He took on writing and research assignments, he generated creative new campaign ideas, and he ended up moving a lot of projects forward that otherwise may have gotten dropped this summer.
For students. As a FIMS grad, I am grateful for the critical, theory-based curriculum I experienced at school. My university education gave me so much to read about, write about, and think about. I truly believe our degrees make us excellent employees. But a FIMS degree is not job training, nor should it be. Internships help bridge the gap.
By offering a FIMS student an internship, I give them a ‘foot in the door’ to their first job and to hands-on work experience. I’m also giving them an amazing career exploration opportunity to begin to navigate their way to finding work they enjoy.
For FIMS. Reflecting on how much my FIMS internship and education benefited me, it feels great to be able to give back to the program through mentorship and job opportunities. By creating an opportunity for a FIMS intern, I felt that I was helping to build value and opportunities for future students.
It feels good that I can help equip the newest members of our alumni network, who will be our future colleagues, with a toolkit for the rest of their careers.
We don’t know what the next 12- or 24-months look like for the marketing, communications, media, and creative roles that FIMS grads often work in. But we do know that these roles will continue to adapt to the circumstances. Organizations will need talent that can do the same.
Current FIMS students have the misfortune of going to school in a pandemic. They’re missing out on in-person classes and community experiences, but they do not need to miss out on the rich work experiences that internships provide.
Speak with the FIMS Career Services Team at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more about how the FIMS internship program can support your team.