The 4A’s Multicultural Advertising Intern Program (MAIP) may look a little different this year, but the show will go on, the organization promises.
The program, which has matched agencies with diverse entry-level talent since 1973, is facing the same issues as all businesses due to the coronavirus pandemic. But how exactly can the organization transfer an intimate in-person experience into an equally enriching virtual one?
"We went from celebrating our largest fellowship in history - a 38 percent increase from last year, more agencies and partners commitments - to rebuilding the entire program to engage with our fellows and agencies virtually in three weeks time," said Simon Fenwick, executive vice president, talent, equity & inclusion at the 4A’s.
The program, which usually consists of virtual components, complemented by an in-person stint in NYC, has been renamed to the MAIP Virtual Engagement Program.
Due to the outbreak of COVID-19, the entire program was moved online, as not to disrupt the pipeline of diverse talent headed to agencis, even during the crisis.
"Because of COVID-19 we decided to move the entire program online and allow agencies to get involved -- just not physically in their offices," Fenwick said.
"This year we had over 164 agency locations make offers to our 325 fellows, but we still had roughly 90 finalists not selected before the coronavirus pandemic began," said Reema Elghossain VP, 4A's foundation/MAIP/talent equity & inclusion.
"So we created a pathway for them to get into the industry once hiring starts back up," she said. "I truly believe we have the best virtual agency training program in the country right now."
Getting things done quickly was a priority for the 4A’s, as their program has served as a model to many similar initiatives throughout the industry.
"We have found that our partners have looked at the MAIP program and have said, ‘There’s the shining star we need to follow,’ so it was important that we implemented the virtual program quickly," Elghossain said.
But the fellows are not the only ones to benefit from MAIP. The program made sure that the nearly 3,000 alumni of the program would be supported during these times as well.
"This week, we are launching the MAIP alumni virtual series. It will include sessions on topics including mental wellness for people of color, as well as skills-based training, and serve as a resource for our alumni throughout the industry," Elghossain told Campaign.
While MAIP and 4A’s mission of promoting diversity within the industry has not changed, there have been concerns about the overall industry and its drive to promote diversity in a post-coronavirus world, amidst layoffs and hiring freezes.
According to Elghossain and Fenwick, agencies are just as committed as ever.
This was done in tandem with our agency partners and one thing we’ve been hearing about is what the future looks like. Agencies are committed to diverse hiring, even if there is a slowdown, Fenwick said.
"Diversity is still important for agencies, and what they’re looking for is to engage and take [our] learnings to strengthen their own D&I programs," he added.