While trying to find creative ways to incorporate youth voice into our work at the Next Generation Zone, I brainstormed an idea to start an internship that would teach selected young people who are currently enrolled with us about marketing. The idea being to educate them about our workforce system, and our branding, and then ask them to market our services through a youth lens.
The irony that I was trying to create a marketing internship was not lost on anyone who knows me. As I only have a LinkedIn profile, and an account on Pinterest, I hardly come across as a social media genius. What was I thinking trying to develop an internship about it?
But, as hoped for, we discovered we don’t need to be great at marketing and social media. We just need interested and creative young adults, a vision, a framework of support and a few basic curbs, a certain level of autonomy, and then let them go for it. They produced work better than anything we had imagined.
At one point, I assumed failure was on the inevitable horizon, due to the pandemic and closing our physical location. However, our young adults had no problem working from home, and in fact overall preferred it. The internship carried on with quick daily check-ins on Zoom or Google Hangouts to share ideas and next steps.
It got us thinking about how we could take this concept to the next level with other businesses, especially as we are in a pandemic.
Our interns created exciting marketing materials, SnapChat ads, developed promotional pieces in partnership with local employers, helped us start our Voice Your Vote campaign, and so much more.
So again, why shouldn’t other businesses take advantage of this amazing talent pipeline as well? Businesses that have survived during this unprecedented time have learned to pivot and be creative in how they do business, and allow for flexibility of staff that was (probably) not part of the norm previously. This whole new way of doing business also means needing more of an online presence and exciting ways to get the word out on products and services.
Who better than social media savvy young adults to help in this capacity? They don’t need a degree; they already get their “degree” from the latest trends on social media, and most anything they don’t know they can YouTube or otherwise figure out. By the time a traditional textbook on marketing and social media is published, concepts are out-of-date.
When speaking to businesses while job developing, ask them about their marketing and if they could benefit from additional help. If your center has WIOA funding, this is a great opportunity to utilize WEX funds to place a young person in a marketing internship.
Christian, the pioneer of our Youth Ambassador program, shared that for the best results find a business that has a warm culture for the young adult to experience, and a place where it’s okay to try new ideas (and possibly mess up at first) and know there is still support.
Below is a video Christian created to share his Next Generation Zone experience from his point-of-view, along with a video created to share more information about Next Generation Zone services:
If you have an interest in starting an internship at your center, or would like more info on the value of a marketing internship with local employers, please reach out. We are happy to share ideas, training plans, and other resources.
Jennifer Ranney is the new Director of Generation Zone. She brings with her over 12 years workforce development experience, including grant management and administration.