Thursday, June 9, 2016

AIMA Volunteer Spotlight: Dawn Parker

“Welcome to the 2013 AIMA Internship Program,” said the cheerful AIMA volunteer as she handed me a nametag and nodded her head encouragingly towards the agency’s common area. I responded with an anxious smile while adjusting my self-confidence and aligning my nametag underneath the lapel of lucky fuchsia blazer. The room was buzzing with small talk as I joined a group of summer interns sitting on the front row of the tiered wooden bleachers. We were waiting for the AIMA Internship Program kickoff event to begin.

That event was my first introduction to AIMA. I was the wide-eyed corporate communications intern at 22squared, thirsting for learning opportunities and career-defining experiences. With less than one year until college graduation, I was on the ultimate quest to figure out what I wanted to be when I grew up. Looking back now, I can say that the AIMA Internship Program was definitive to that quest. It invited me to explore the city’s interactive marketing community and learn from its new media mavens. From the art of networking to the assortment of potential career paths out there, the program offered invaluable learning experiences that enriched my preparation for the real world. My experience came to a head when I was named as one of two interns to receive the AIMA scholarship that year. I was honored to receive the scholarship from an organization that had inspired my newfound confidence as a professional-to-be.

As the 2016 AIMA Internship Program kicks off this week, here are a few tips for prospective students on ways you can make the most out of your AIMA experience:

  1. Mingle with the professionals.

The internship program offers the perfect setting to help you begin building a professional network. With an AIMA student membership, AIMA interns receive free admission to educational events and discounted rates for SIG and social events. Not only are these events fun, but you’ll have the chance to meet the movers and shakers of Atlanta’s interactive marketing community. Attend as many networking events as you can and exchange business cards along the way. You’ll quickly find that AIMA members are excited to talk with aspiring communicators about their experiences in this fast-paced, ever-changing industry.

  1. Master the art of the follow-up.

If you receive a business card, don’t forget to use it. Networking events are the jumping-off point to start a new professional relationship; however, your follow-up is key to developing it. Your follow-up can be as simple as a quick email thanking your new contact for talking with you. Keep in touch with the people you meet throughout the summer, from seasoned veterans to fellow interns.

  1. Get to know the program’s volunteers.

The program comes with your very professional development cheerleading squad – the program’s volunteers. The program’s volunteers are excited to help you grow as a professional so take some time talk with them about your interests and career goals. My AIMA experience wouldn’t have been the same without the professional friendships shared with the volunteers, who offered me no end of great counsel and encouragement.

  1. Work hard and have fun.

AIMA members work hard to do amazing work, but they also appreciate a fun event. Bring your “A” game to the office every day, but don’t forget to have fun as you learn. An internship is the ultimate learning experience so make sure to soak it up.

  1. When it’s your turn, don’t forget to give back, too.

This is something I learned after becoming an AIMA volunteer. Last year, Krisi Lane, the program’s director, approached me about getting involved with the program and I couldn’t turn down the opportunity. By becoming a program volunteer, I’ve had the chance to share my AIMA experience with interns who are navigating the craziness of summer internships. Last year’s program was a huge success and I cannot wait to see what the 2016 AIMA Internship Program will bring.

By day, I’m an Assistant Account Executive for Porter Novelli’s Global Health and Social Impact Practice, where I contribute strategic thinking and creativity to facilitate successful integrated communications programs. Connect with me on LinkedIn or follow me on Twitter!

Interview and write-up by Steffan Pedersen (AIMA Blog Manager, Object 9 Social Media Director)