What our Past Interns had to say about the CDE Experience

The Center for Digital Engagement hosted a panel discussion where previous interns had the opportunity to discuss their experiences in the clinic. 

Four talented alumni sat on the panel and discussed their reasons for pursuing an internship with the Center for Digital Engagement and Ann Arbor SPARK,the challenges and surprises they encountered throughout their internship, and the lasting benefits they received from participating in the clinic. The extent of their knowledge and the diversity of their backgrounds helped provide a panel session that was educational, informative and inspiring for the current interns.

Dasha Jones interned for Shape Log. She is now at American Campus as a Leasing Assistant.
Miguel Castillo-Clark interned with Mi Padrino. He went on to work for IProspect as a Paid Social Associate.
Ryan Kellman interned with Ascape Audio. He is now with IProspect as an Account Associate SEM Corporate Brands.
Ashley McNabb interned with Best Food Feed. Ashley is currently working with GM as a District Digital Manager.

Taking the Leap

The panel, moderated by Professor Russ Merz, focused on three distinct areas: taking the leap, crossing the chasm and leveraging the experience. The session opened by asking clinic alumni to discuss the factors that were involved in their decision to pursue an internship with the Center of Digital Engagement and Ann Arbor SPARK. One of the key takeaways was wanting to try something new. At the time, most of the panelists had no prior marketing experience and were unsure of their major. Ryan, actually had a major career change. He went from aircraft maintenance to marketing.
“I knew this internship would be a good foundation for the spot I’m in right now, I knew I had to start small, and knew I had to take small risks in order to get the position I’m in right now to succeed in my career.” –Ryan
Another deciding factor was having their professors at the time really give them the “push” they needed to do the internship.

Crossing the Chasm

Professor Merz asked the panelists to discuss personal challenges and lessons they learned from their internship. One of the biggest obstacles most of the alumni had was jumping into “organized chaos” (as Miguel described it) and figuring out what to do and how to do it.
Some other tips include:

  1. Research your company and the industry they are in.
  2. Discuss your strengths with your company and use them to your advantage. – Dasha
  3. “Spider map,” break projects into smaller projects, in order to stay on track. – Miguel
  4. “Be flexible. With Small Startup companies, there are not a lot of people, maybe 6 or 7. Everyone wears many different hats, and I think it’s important to be flexible and adaptable in this kind of environment. It can feel very overwhelming at first, but the outcomes and experiences you gain are very rewarding.” – Ashley

Leveraging the Experience

The final portion of the panel focused on personal and professional payoffs. Panelists discussed the benefits of their internships and how this experience influenced their career trajectory.
One of the key takeaways here was gaining the marketing experience they previously lacked.
“Payoff is huge! You’ll be introduced to a lot of different aspects of marketing. You get to see what you like and what you don’t like!”” –Miguel
Ryan mentioned that his company, Ascape Audio allowed him to fail and correct his missteps. His current employer, IProspect, recognized the value in having an employee that can not only own up to mistakes but can take the initiative to fix them.
We want to thank the alumni panelists: Miguel, Ashley, Ryan and Dasha for their willingness to share their experiences. Also, a huge thank you to Professor Merz for leading the discussion!

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