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.
Aaron K. Heltsmith
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!