Athometernship Zoom call

August 20, 2020

VSA Partners' Virtual Internship Program

I think we can all agree that 2020 has been unlike anything most of us have ever experienced professionally or personally. In early March as we were all told to vacate the familiarity of our offices, the fear and uncertainty were palpable. But creative agencies don’t just sit with fear and uncertainty. Our clients pay us to design solutions. So, true to form, that’s exactly what VSA did for this year’s Summer Internship program.

In the first half of any year, VSA’s Talent Management team is hard at work planning and interviewing candidates for our Summer Internship program. Our standard framework is designed to provide burgeoning talent the opportunity to become acquainted with working at a creative agency, leaving with real-life experience that prepares them for the job market after graduation. It’s a celebrated and cherished program — all of VSA gets excited to interview and welcome a fresh cohort of interns every summer.

With so much uncertainty at the end of February and early March of this year, my team and I questioned what would become of VSA’s beloved summer program. The prospect of not having a summer internship and leaving so much eager talent idle was unfavorable to say the least. After extensive discussion and logistical planning alongside the Executive Leadership Team, we decided to take the program online, and the 2020 Virtual Summer AtHometernship was born.

This year’s program was a 12-week, part-time virtual experience, focused on eLearning and Mentorship. In the absence of confirmation that any of us would be back in the office this year, the AtHometernship was designed to be geographically agnostic and allowed our participants to stay safely at home. Our practices welcomed amazing students from across the country who partnered with multiple mentors to understand career progression, their current roles and all things VSA. We prioritized billable work for our full-time employees so AtHometernship participants were able to shadow and learn from some of the best creative minds in the marketing world and gain real agency experience. Additionally, our AtHometerns designed and delivered a COVID-19 related project together, giving them a topical and unique addition to their portfolio as well as mirroring the cross-functional collaboration that is part of every project at VSA.

We are pleased to say that each of our AtHometern finalist candidates pivoted with us as the structure of the program changed. Our top choices chose us as well, knowing this year’s program would be like none other. Thank you to this year’s participants for sticking with us; we are excited to see how each of you continues to develop and grow.

While VSA’s At-Hometerns may not have been able to enjoy our snack bins, they instead received the best version of an internship experience the creative world can offer in the midst of a global pandemic, resulting in job preparedness, powerful exposure to agency life, AP-level Zoom skills and a deeply meaningful experience to prepare them for the future.

Tracee Hartley

Tracee Hartley, Design Intern, Detroit, MI — Tracee is a Detroit-based communication designer graduating from the College for Creative Studies in Spring 2021 with a BFA in Communication Design. She strives for progressive design solutions in mediums of branding, art direction, interaction and print. Tracee savors research-driven design and projects that make an impactful difference in society. Her favorite part of the design process is pairing experimentation and play with research insights to find unique solutions. You’ll often find her in the studio asking “what if?”

Raven Mo

Raven Mo, Digital Design Intern, Chicago, IL — Raven is a Visual Communication Design student at School of the Art Institute of Chicago and a socially-conscious creative. Influenced by Jonathan Hoefler and his design philosophy, Raven aspires to be a creative system builder who experiments within interdisciplinary territories and builds rich and robust works. Her work ranges from user interface design to branding and publication design. As a designer, she often finds herself in unfamiliar territories, constantly challenging and nuancing her creative process and applying in-depth research with a systematic approach.

Cara Jones

Cara Jones, Strategy Intern, New York, NY — Cara is a fifth-year International Business student at Northeastern University, concentrating in Marketing and Entrepreneurship. Since starting college, Cara has tirelessly expanded both her global perspective and her skillset: she has traveled to 11 countries and has worked in consulting in Los Angeles, in media technology in San Francisco and in the nonprofit sector in London. It was this desire to learn that attracted Cara to the VSA AtHometernship program, where she has reinforced her passions for branding, user research and storytelling. She looks forward to further pursuing these passions within the agency world upon her graduation this December.

Gillian Cole

Gillian Cole, Project Management Intern, Portsmouth, NH — Gillian is a 2020 graduate of Denison University, with a bachelor’s degree in Communications. For the past three years through competitive internships, Gillian has worked to gain experience in project management, event planning and marketing. At Denison, she was the Public Relations Manager for Denison’s Women in Business and has since strived to support women in the workplace in each of her varying roles. As she looks forward to joining the workforce full-time in Chicago, she has her eyes set on an agency setting to further expand her knowledge and experience.

Jack Brosnan

Jack Brosnan, Copywriter Intern, Chicago, IL — Jack is a Chicago-born copywriter with big agency, freelance and fry-cook experience. Since graduating from Indiana University in 2019—with a degree in Creative Advertising—and Chicago Portfolio School in 2020, Jack has had the opportunity to work with a wide variety of clients over several industries. As a true student of the creative process, Jack strives to combine his passion for writing and problem solving to create effective and socially responsible advertising campaigns.

Morgan O’Connor

Morgan O’Connor, Production Intern, Muncie, IN — Morgan is a current student at Ballstate University, studying Telecommunications with a concentration in Video and Audio, and a minor in Film and Screenwriting. Throughout her college career Morgan has worked on numerous projects including commercials, music videos, mini docs and a number of short films. With a focus in the film industry, she accepted the VSA AtHomeTernship in order to widen her skillset and challenge herself in the agency world, ultimately opening new opportunities for her future. She hopes to combine her passion for storytelling and her ability to create a visual experience to produce unique content that will make a difference.

Joseph Han

Joseph Han, Developer Intern, New York City, NY — Joseph is a recent graduate from the University of Notre Dame with a bachelor’s degree in computer science and focus in product design. With an engineering background, he enjoys coming up with practical, efficient solutions while still thinking outside the box to provide creativity. He is interested in human computer interaction and aspires to create user-centered products that will better connect technology with people around the world. In his free time, he loves taking photos, editing videos and exploring cool fields such as augmented reality!

Amber Little

Amber Little, Data Analyst Intern, Chicago, IL — Amber is a current student at the University of Illinois at Chicago pursuing her bachelor's degree in Computer Science and concentration in Human Centered Computing. She enjoys thinking out of the box to solve complex problems and provide innovative solutions. She is interested in data analytics and aspires to pursue a career in data science after she graduates. In her free time she enjoys reading, binge watching the newest Netflix show, tending to her house plants and taking care of her cat Apollo.

Ryan King

Ryan King, Writing Intern, Minneapolis, MN — A May graduate of Creighton University, Ryan’s journalism degree has taken him from sports journalism to agency writing and everything in between. At Creighton, he was sports editor for the school paper, vice president of the PRSSA chapter, a copywriter for the marketing department, and a campus tour guide. His time at VSA has reinforced his love for agency writing and the creative concepting process, and he looks forward to finding his next professional wordsmithing gig. In the meantime, he’s content reading, biking, and nerding out over anything superheroes.

Aaron K. Heltsmith

Director, Talent Experience

Aaron is a talent leader who blends human experiences with technology and data. He currently leads VSA’s recruiting and resource management functions — the teams that source and recruit top talent and facilitate development and growth during their time at VSA. As a native Texan, Aaron has a laid-back conversational style that has allowed him to form meaningful connections with whomever he meets. He now uses those experiences in a professional capacity to build relationships and solve problems in organizations large and small. A creative at heart, Aaron thrives in environments of continuous improvement where all ideas can be considered. Aaron has a passion for diversity, inclusion and equity, and is dedicated to creating a culture where everyone can bring their whole selves to work. He’s always looking for unique talent, so don’t be surprised if he reaches out for a conversation!