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News Diversity is essential2020-08-10

Essence’s Summer Immersion Program Introduces Candidates to Careers in Media 

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With summer internship programs cancelled due to Covid-19, Essence planned and organized a virtual immersion program to introduce people to the prospect of working at Essence and in the marketing and advertising industry more broadly. Given the importance of increasing diversity within the advertising industry, we set out to ensure at least 75% of participants were from underrepresented groups.

On August 4th and 5th, 95 students, graduates, and career switchers from around the world signed on to Google Hangouts to take part in the program. They were joined by 55 Essentials over the course of two days, who helped bring an immersive curriculum to life with presentations, Q&A sessions, breakout groups, and networking.

Participants in the program each received hands-on and practical introductions to the advertising ecosystem, multicultural media, and Essence’s approach to client services, strategy, analytics and data strategy, planning, activation, and ad ops. Additionally, members of Essence’s employee resource groups shared their perspectives on diversity and opportunity in the industry, and Essence Talent leaders and hiring managers conducted an interview and resume bootcamp.

We received positive feedback on the program from both participants and Essentials, over 90% of whom would recommend the program and/or participate again. Participants appreciated the candid, insightful conversations and the opportunity to connect with Essentials in an intimate setting. Essentials were happy to share their experience while getting to know the participants as well as other co-workers.

Bryant Varela, a recent advertising graduate, described the program in a LinkedIn post, saying 'The Essence Summer Immersion Program was not what I expected, it was better. I was able to look into the inner workings and life at an ad agency. More importantly, I was able to gain insight into the work that's being done to make sure underrepresented voices and communities are being heard in the advertising industry.'

Nicholas Gonzales, also a recent graduate, added 'I've found it challenging, as an aspiring & job-seeking marketer, to understand the full array of opportunities and career paths that are available in the field of marketing. In light of this quest, I'm thankful to have been a part of the inaugural Essence Immersion Program earlier this week. It was well put together and painted a much more clear picture of things like media planning, activation, strategy, analytics, Ad Ops, and what life is like at a successful marketing agency. Whether I was hearing from the CEO or Essentials slightly older than me, they were all positive, joyful, and willing to help. I will build on this foundational marketing knowledge and continue to seek learning opportunities.'

Jason Li, a job seeker who participated in the program, also posted “What was most relevant than ever was the Multicultural Media 1010 and the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion sessions. It was such an eye-opening experience. I have a huge interest in seeing how culturally relevant pedagogy is applied in the professional workplace and this is seen clearly in their practices. I was able to observe such a strong support system and open work culture in a short amount of time. Thank you to all the Essence staff for taking the time to share their stories!”

Mandy Walis, VP, Product Strategy Management, who helped organize the program said 'I'm so happy with how much engagement we got across the board. It's always nice to see your idea come to life, but I didn't even hope that it would be as good as this! We've already got ideas on how to expand the program and make it better and we're sending surveys out to participants and Essentials to get their feedback.'