How I successfully pivoted when my summer internship was canceled

Thomas Hugo, senior in advertising, interned at Vida Medical Clinic in summer 2020.


By Thomas Hugo, senior in advertising

This summer, I was fortunate enough to receive a generous scholarship from the Greenlee School of Journalism and Communication. I’m so grateful for the opportunities that this scholarship opened up for me. As many others were, my paid internship for the summer was terminated due to the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Originally, I was supposed to be the digital marketing intern for Amplifon, a global hearing healthcare company with headquarters in Minneapolis. My job duties were to include building and maintaining their digital identity through blog posts, social media engagement and analytics, business-to-business communication and traditional media engagement.

Thanks to network connections in my hometown in Wisconsin, I was able to secure an unpaid, remote internship. I volunteered as a digital marketing intern for Vida Medical Clinic, a non-profit in Appleton, Wisconsin that provides free medical, pregnancy, and counseling services to people in the area. Vida didn’t have any marketing materials when I signed up, just very basic Facebook posts. Developing and executing a digital marketing campaign on Facebook and Instagram became my full-time job over the summer, on top of working to support myself.

I spent full-time hours working my internship during the week, and worked at night and on the weekends to support myself beyond what the generous Greenlee scholarship was able to provide. Thanks to the scholarship funds, I was able to spend more time focusing on researching, developing, testing and eventually executing a digital marketing campaign for Vida. I was able to cover a portion of my summer rent and basic living expenses with the scholarship, which was a huge sigh of relief due to the economy collapsing pretty much overnight in March. Luckily, I was able to keep my part-time job as a food delivery driver to cover expenses outside of the range of the scholarship.

Not having to worry about day-to-day expenses really helped me get a more in-depth experience with this unpaid internship. I was able to put in a full-time effort, even though I wasn’t getting paid. I feel as though I got a more full-view experience with my internship since I worked for a smaller organization than I originally planned. Instead of just being a marketing intern, I was a graphic designer, strategic planner, creative director and social media strategist all at once. I had to generate, research, strategize, pitch and execute all my own ideas. I didn’t have a specific department to work with, just one other marketing strategist for the organization who acted as my supervisor. This made the process of creating advertising materials very detailed and educational for me. I got to see how it works from beginning to end, and made lots of ideas come to fruition.

Overall, I am very grateful for the opportunity to have been a digital marketing intern for Vida this summer. I’m even more grateful to the Greenlee School of Journalism and Communication for their financial support, which allowed me to have an effective and very positive 499 internship experience.

Greenlee 499A internship scholarships support students with a primary major in advertising, journalism and mass communication or public relations who are completing their required 400-hour internships. The application is available each spring.