Fingerpaint Intern Chronicles Virtual Internship Experience

Editor’s note: In the wake of COVID-19, Fingerpaint pivoted its yearly summer internship into a virtual program, keeping its commitment to the 23 college students who were offered paid internships across its offices. Megan Kirkbride, an intern in Fingerpaint’s Conshohocken office, will be keeping a weekly blog about her experience.

Week 10: My Experience at Fingerpaint

As I head into my final week at Fingerpaint this summer, I’ve had some time to reflect on what an amazingly unique and insightful opportunity this internship has been for me. There have been quite a few learning curves along the way, and I’m grateful to have been able to work with some of the most caring and hardworking people who helped me get the most out of these 10 weeks. I’ve found that working on the agency side of marketing is much different than the client side for a number of reasons.

Having the opportunity last summer to work on the client side, I worked directly with the agency to pitch ideas and have them deliver what we were asking for as the client. This summer at Fingerpaint, I was on the complete opposite side of that spectrum. Instead, my team and I were the ones creating deliverables and taking feedback from the client to turn it into something tangible. Being able to see both sides is something that has been very beneficial to me and has allowed me to be more open-minded when it comes to marketing and the agency/client dynamic. What I mean by this is it’s very important to see both sides of anything in life, and this kind of exposure to marketing makes me more understanding and open to new ideas from both angles.

I’ve also had the opportunity to be exposed to early-stage planning for a very important client, which has taught me a lot more about the inner workings of an agency’s process. I got to sit in on meetings where the Fingerpaint team discussed early-stage planning, budgeting, and other soon-to-be impactful client work through creative projects and brand planning. Exposure to major projects like this has inspired me to want to do work like this and help clients achieve the marketing potential they ask for. I’ve always known I wanted to do meaningful work, but seeing how philanthropic Fingerpaint is has really jump-started that for me.

Additionally, having the ability to work and collaborate with the other interns has been a really great experience. Everyone on our team was so talented, creative, and good at what they do, and I couldn’t have asked for a better team to work with on our project for the nonprofit organization we helped. From the start, we all really connected well and were able to collaborate efficiently and effectively, even in our respective remote settings, to be able to deliver what the client asked for. We developed a fully virtual digital marketing campaign and presented it to the client, who loved the idea and the accompanying tactics we came up with. Overall, it was a very humbling experience, and I’m very grateful I got the opportunity to get to know and work with all of the other Conshohocken interns on such an important and impactful project this summer.

Initially, I admit that I was pretty skeptical about how the whole “virtual internship” was going to work. I had so many questions as to how communication would remain effective across the board, how we would be able to execute a full campaign while working remotely, and how the same kind of atmosphere and culture that we were expecting at Fingerpaint would stay alive despite everything being online. In retrospect, I see now that even though everything is online and there aren’t in-person interactions, the people at Fingerpaint really make it a priority to put people first and make everyone feel like they are a part of something bigger. This is something that really resonates with me, and I feel it is absolutely essential in a virtual environment. It can be isolating to be at home by yourself with just your family, but having this experience has been a very positive, uplifting part of my summer.

I’m very grateful that Fingerpaint was able to pivot and still give us this opportunity virtually, and I feel super lucky to have been able to collaborate with and learn from some amazing people. I know that having this virtual internship under my belt will provide me with invaluable experience that will be beneficial in the future as work inevitably continues to shift virtually in the upcoming years.

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Week 9: Making Connections

It’s hard to believe that we are already in August, and there are only two weeks left of the internship at Fingerpaint. It feels like just yesterday I had my orientation with Bo and met the interns I’ve been grateful to work with for the past 9 weeks. This week, I want to talk about connections and the importance of making long-lasting relationships with your coworkers. There are major benefits to meeting people through your workplace, especially in an online environment during a pandemic.

As an intern, I wanted to learn as much as I could from this unique experience as a virtual employee and adapt to the ways a company like Fingerpaint has to operate in an online environment. Maintaining a happy lifestyle and staying healthy can be an issue for people working at home during this time. It can be hard for me to be as social online as I would be in person. Forcing myself to make connections with my coworkers has led to a happier experience and less stress, and even given me people to celebrate fun occasions with. Fingerpaint has weekly meetings where the company gets together and everyone can talk about what’s going on in their lives. It’s very casual and a great way to get to know my coworkers, and it’s been beneficial for me to “virtually attend.”

Connecting with so many people on my team has also helped increase my engagement in the company overall. It can be easy to lose motivation in such a flexible environment, but having these connections keeps you accountable and responsible for the work you’re doing. Additionally, being close with the people in your workplace can help with projects like the one I’ve worked on with the other interns because it is easier to express your opinions and come up with fresh, new ideas.

Perhaps the most important part about creating these relationships in the workplace is that you never know where you’ll be in the next five or ten years. Down the road, those connections may help from a networking perspective. Someone you worked with previously may be at a high position or work for a company that interests you. The impression you left could be the key to getting your foot in the door. Also just knowing people in different departments is invaluable as it can help you learn how a company operates.

While I’ve definitely learned a lot this summer at Fingerpaint, the importance of staying connected in this virtual environment has been one of the largest and most important takeaways for me. The people I’ve worked with at Fingerpaint are easy to interact with and open to questions, which makes feeling connected to several cross-functional team members across different departments seamless.

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Week 8: Client Work

With only 2 weeks left, things are really starting to ramp up with the nonprofit internship project. We just received feedback from the client on logos, and we are planning next steps for the materials they need to launch the campaign our team has developed. The goal is to raise awareness for their organization through a virtual experience, as opposed to their traditional in-person experiences, because of the ongoing pandemic. We are very excited about this concept but realize that creating something unique that we hope will give the organization a lot of exposure and recognition isn’t as easy as it sounds.

Some challenges we’ve faced include the logo design, which has gone through a number of revisions to get to the point we’re at now. We finally are aligned on the design and color palette they would like to see, and now it’s just up to the client to decide which option they would like finalized. A good piece of advice I heard during the internship was not to become too attached to one single idea. Clients will almost always change their mind about something, and adjustments will have to be made. It’s very important to make sure the team can maintain that flexibility and make the necessary adjustments to satisfy the client’s needs.

Although our team has had to work through some challenges with the project, the client has been very responsive and provided constructive feedback. This allows us to make changes according to what they specifically want and align to their goals. Something that I’ve experienced in the past was that the client was not very responsive and/or wasn’t clear with feedback, which leads to more discussions and back-and-forth with the client.

Overall, the experience we’ve had with our client this summer has been really great. I look forward to our final presentation next week to deliver everything we’ve made for them to launch the campaign and help their fundraising efforts during a challenging time.

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Week 7: Making the Most Out of a Virtual Internship

Working at Fingerpaint this summer has been an experience that surpassed my expectations and continues to allow me to grow and develop not only my skills in marketing, but also my ability to maintain a work-life balance.

I don’t think I properly prepared myself for everything that comes with working 100% virtually. Before COVID-19, work and personal life for most people were completely separate, and there was a way to get away from both when needed. Now, work is in the same space as your personal life, and this can be challenging for some.

I noticed that the Fingerpaint team really puts an emphasis on good work-life balance and making sure their employees’ mental health is taken care of. Flexibility is key when it comes to working virtually, and as long as priorities are aligned across the board and work is getting done, it’s okay to step away from the computer during the day to make sure something in your personal life is given attention.

Although flexibility is essential, it can also be hard to maintain focus when given too much of it. For me, staying focused has been a struggle throughout the duration of the internship so far; however, time management strategies, like blocking off time with zero distractions, has helped me work through everything.

There are definitely a few things that I would do differently if I had the chance to do another virtual internship. The one thing that sticks out the most would be to make more connections with my coworkers. With in-person interactions, I find myself to be much more sociable, but with the online environment, I’ve struggled to want to make these important connections.

Here are some tips I have for anyone who will be doing a virtual internship, taking online classes, or working remotely for the foreseeable future:

  • Block off time without any distractions. This has been something that always helps me at school and work. I recommend it to anyone who has a hard time focusing like I do. If you like to listen to music while you work, I would recommend listening to something instrumental, like lo-fi hip-hop, because it actually stimulates your brain while you’re working and helps you be more productive.

  • Make connections with the people around you. You never know what that connection will do for you in the future, and in today’s world, it’s nice to have people surrounding you to feel less isolated in the virtual environment.

  • Take your time. Make sure you make time for things that are important to you in your personal life. Work and school are important, but your mental health is just as (if not more) important. Make time for family and friends, and as long as everything you need to do is taken care of, this will make everything much better.

As I go back to school in the fall, all of my classes will be virtual with the exception of one, and this is the bittersweet reality for many students given the current situation. The tips I provided apply to my own life, and implementing them will hopefully make a difference and help me to achieve the success I desire in the upcoming months.

I continue to be grateful to have had the opportunity to work with the Fingerpaint team this summer and experience this virtual internship. I hope that my reflection on my experiences can offer insight into what it’s like to participate in this type of internship and how to make the best of the circumstances—especially regarding virtual work-life balance and staying focused. I’m really excited for the upcoming weeks as we wrap up our projects and our internship program approaches the finish line.

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Week 6: Client Relations

This past week has been full of learning opportunities and experiences that will not only help me to develop my skills as an account intern at Fingerpaint, but also will equip me with transferrable experience I can take with me after this summer. Like I stated in my previous entry, there are times when you are so busy that you look at the clock and it’s already the end of the day, and that was the exact feeling I experienced all last week.

The other interns and I have been working on our project for the nonprofit organization we’re helping out, and this past week, we presented our campaign concepts to the client. The presentation itself went better than I could’ve ever expected, and I say that because of all of the events that led up to it. We definitely hit a few bumps in the road while creating the presentation and making sure all our ideas were aligned with what the client was asking for.

We went through multiple stages of edits after receiving feedback from our managers, which was exceptionally helpful. We had finally gotten to a point where we were happy with what we were about to present when we found out that the nonprofit organization had an existing idea on their website that was almost identical to the one we were presenting to them. This created a sense of panic and threw us all for a whirl as we tried to come up with a way to elevate what the client already has and take it to the next level.

In the end, everything worked out, and the presentation went great. This kind of experience is only something you can learn from once you’ve worked through it, and I’m glad to say that I had the opportunity to do so with our full team of interns and our managers helping to guide us through it.

This internship has surpassed my expectations when it comes to working with the clients and learning how to communicate with other companies and organizations from an agency perspective. Fingerpaint has provided me with several valuable learning experiences throughout the summer thus far, and I’m really looking forward to growing and developing my skills further in the final few weeks of our program.

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Week 5: How It All Comes Together

Week 5 has really given me exposure to the pace Fingerpaint can operate at, especially given the circumstances of being virtual. There have been some days so far this summer where the time can go by very slowly, and others where I’m not sure where the time went! With our internship nonprofit project really starting to take shape, we have had some busy days coming up with ideas, building presentations and creative briefs, and communicating where we are in the preparation process for next steps with the client.

We presented our initial ideas for one of the components of our campaign to our managers on Monday, which provided us with a great amount of constructive feedback that we are now using to further develop the campaign. Our ideas have come a long way since the initial brainstorming phase, and these reviews with our managers have been super helpful and allowed us to come up with creative ideas we may not have thought of otherwise.

I also had the opportunity to sit in on a number of weekly status calls and logistics meetings with one of the client accounts I’m helping with. This continues to be really helpful for me to see how Fingerpaint works with them given the virtual circumstances. The role I’m in as an account service intern for the team means I need to know how to effectively communicate with the clients, and sitting in on meetings to shadow other members of the account team helps me see how that should be carried out.

The Fingerpaint team continues to make this virtual internship a unique experience. This Friday, we had a virtual art lesson that was really great! The event was hosted with the Boys & Girls Club, and we made tie-dye coffee filters and trash origami. The culture at Fingerpaint is something different from every other company I’ve been exposed to, and the positive working environment makes the work much more enjoyable. My managers have also continued to make a great effort to ensure the other interns and I are taken care of and have everything we could need to succeed in this virtual environment. I really look forward to these next few weeks as our intern project continues to develop and really come to life!

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Week 4: Moving Along Quickly

I can’t believe it’s already been 4 weeks since I started this virtual internship at Fingerpaint. Things have really started to ramp up with the intern project, and the short holiday week made for an action-packed time trying to get everything done in just a few days!

Week 4 was filled with a lot of logistics surrounding the project, including assembling and sending out a creative brief to our nonprofit client. I also worked with the project management team to come up with an outline of tentative dates surrounding the project to send over to the client to review.

In addition to the creative brief, the other interns and I have all been working on a presentation for an additional project, which we will present to the managers early next week. We are really looking forward to hearing their feedback so we can take their suggestions and implement them to expand and improve upon our existing ideas.

Although it was a short week, we managed to get a lot done on the nonprofit project and to get started on another portion of the documentary series the team is working on. I was able to help import audio files of casting interviews into a transcription software program that will give us full transcriptions for our team to look back on and reference in the future.

The next few weeks are going to go by even faster than the first few, and I’m really excited to see how the nonprofit project works out. This experience has been such a unique and great opportunity to help me understand the process for projects like the campaign we are working on.

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Week 3: Planning and Executing

Every week continues to teach me new concepts and applicable skills that are useful when working in an online environment like this virtual internship. So far, the experience as a whole has been smooth sailing, and I attribute that to the team at Fingerpaint making a conscious effort to ensure the other interns and I have everything we need to be successful. Weekly check-ins are something that have been really helpful, and it’s nice to know that the team is prioritizing our well-being throughout this virtual experience.

Early in the week, I had the opportunity to learn more about Fingerpaint’s process as a whole, and this was really helpful in seeing where and how projects are routed through an agency. The team is also hard at work planning an impactful documentary series that I have been given the opportunity to help with. I have been able to sit in on client calls and learn as much as I can about the process of planning and executing a major project like this.

This week has primarily been focused on kicking off our summer-long project for the nonprofit organization we’re working with in the Conshohocken office. I’ve been communicating with the client to ensure we’re aligned on timing and the next steps of the project. My team and I have been working on a creative brief to explain the overarching concept of the project as well as detailed specifications and milestones that need to be achieved.

While we’re still in the initial phase, we have made a good amount of progress over the last week on this project. We put together a slideshow deck to present to our managers in order to help them visualize our ideas more clearly. This meeting was really important and helped a lot with ideating a more cohesive, all-encompassing theme rather than a handful of separate ideas. The feedback they provided allowed us to come up with a really great idea for a campaign that we feel will be really helpful for the organization we’re partnering with.

I’m very excited to see what the next few weeks will bring with regard to our nonprofit project; I’m eager to hear what the client thinks of our ideas and how they will implement them alongside their ongoing campaigns. It will be interesting to see what kind of feedback they have in terms of how our idea fits within and/or expands the scope of what they initially had in mind.

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Week 2: Collaboration Is the Key to Success

My second week at Fingerpaint has been a great opportunity to learn and adapt to the ways in which an agency operates on a day-to-day basis. I’ve also had the opportunity to start on a few major projects in addition to a few minor tasks to help my managers with their work.

I’ve had a chance to get to know the other interns more, and we are all currently collaborating on a summer-long project. Fingerpaint pairs up its interns with a local nonprofit to perform pro bono work for them. Because of the ongoing pandemic, we are looking into virtual alternatives to events they would normally hold during this time of year. Our biggest challenge so far is coming up with creative ideas that will be engaging and helpful for everyone involved. This past week, we all met virtually to discuss and brainstorm ideas regarding the creative project. The virtual collaboration is proving to be easier than expected, and it’s allowing all of us to work out ideas faster than we may normally be able to. This entire experience is showing me how efficient and effective virtual collaboration can be if it is utilized in the right ways.

We then took our ideas and presented them to our managers to get their feedback on which ideas seem like winners and how we should expand on them before sending to the client. Their feedback taught me that combining some of the ideas we have for the project would make it more cohesive and overarching. Getting constructive feedback from the managers has been immensely helpful in allowing me to think through the team’s ideas more thoroughly and start creating a more organized approach to our client presentation in the upcoming weeks.

My job (as the account service intern) is to make sure these ideas are relayed back to the client in a way that will best show them the work we can do to help improve their company. Over the next few weeks, I will be working closely with Amber, our project management intern, to achieve successful communication between the client and our internal team.

This week has also been really fun as we learned about the ins and outs of pharma marketing, including the ways in which the FDA approves creative materials and the regulations that companies must follow. Additionally, I’ve learned about the creative process that goes behind developing and executing these materials, such as commercials and websites.

I was also fortunate enough to sit in on the Pride Month Panel here at Fingerpaint. It was an amazing experience. It’s important to me to see a company take the initiative to create a positive and inclusive working environment for all of its employees.

Overall, the people here are making a really great effort to give all of us the best possible experience we can have and allow us to learn and grow through this unique opportunity. I’m looking forward to kicking things off with the client project starting week 3 and continuing to expand my knowledge with the agency.

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Week 1: How is this going to work?

At the start of this year, the last thing I expected was to have the opportunity to participate in a virtual internship.

My first week at Fingerpaint has been an experience like no other. It has given me the opportunity to see how an agency operates through a different lens. After working on the client side of the pharma industry last summer, I wanted to experience the agency side and work more closely with the creative process of marketing.

I was definitely skeptical coming into the internship. I wasn’t sure how effective the communication would be between myself and the people I was going to be working with, but Fingerpaint as a company has made a valiant effort to communicate as effectively as possible and support myself and my teammates through this process. The amount of communication and reminders to ask questions has been really helpful, and their willingness to answer any and all questions we have assists us in learning as much as we can.

My interaction with the other interns has been fun, and we all get along really well! With the way the internship is structured, we all need to work together as a collective team, so communication and cooperation are vital to the amount of success we all will be able to achieve.

Working remotely provides all of us a very unique experience to develop skills we might not otherwise develop during a traditional internship. This poses a few questions for me, like: Are virtual internships the new way to go about exposing students to the real world as workplaces transition more into remote working? Will this opportunity give us a leg up on this new generation of remote working?

I’m very excited to work with my team at the Conshohocken office on a number of projects this summer, and after my first week, I can confidently say that I didn’t need to be skeptical. I really look forward to continuing to learn and dive in to the virtual side of this great opportunity.