Ask a former intern: VSA Strategist Marisa Rondinelli

It’s that time of year again—internship-hunting season. Recent grads (and students) are looking for real-world experiences to help shape their career paths, and companies are welcoming young talent inside their doors for on-the-job opportunities that benefit both parties. At VSA, we pride our program on its ability to build the professional credentials of college students and recent graduates. Our interns work across branding, design, marketing, and technology on real projects for VSA clients. We aim to teach best practices from teams and mentors while building a professional network in a rapidly growing industry.

As VSA gears up for hiring summer 2016 interns (official internship postings will go live Friday, January 29), we will be publishing a series of Q&As with VSA-interns-turned-employees about their summer stints at the company. Here is what Marisa Rondinelli, an alum of our 2013 program, and now a Strategist in our Consumer Marketing practice, had to say.

Describe the culture of VSA using words that begin with V, S and A.

V: Vocal. There are lots of big ideas here, and everyone is always free to speak up and share.

S: Social and snacks (there are a lot of them, free for the taking)!

A: Always killing it. Always different (new projects every day, never the same thing).

What makes an internship at VSA unique?

At VSA, the work you do as an intern is the work you do as a full-time employee. There are no “summer” (aka fake) projects that all the interns have to work on together. You are given real client assignments. Your work is put in front of clients. YOU are put in front of clients. The exposure is incredible.

What helped you get through some of the busier days?

The people. Because of the open floor plan, it’s so easy to have a quick chat with a neighbor or passing co-worker. These little chats were (and still are) the best part of my day.

What surprised you the most about your internship with VSA?

I was very impressed with how important it is for VSA that its interns have the best experience possible. My mentor made sure I worked on projects that interested me and took a ton of time to talk to me about my career. I’ve had a lot of internships where I knew I was helping the company, but never had a company show such an interest in my goals.

What kind of projects did you work on?

Lots of brainstorms, lots of work sessions, lots of audits (social, competitive, etc). One of my favorites was a brand architecture project for a luxury travel client.

What are some tips you learned while interning that you still use today?

My mentor taught me that my ideas are just as valid as those of every other experienced employee at the table. He encouraged me to participate fully and believe in the merit of my thoughts. He taught me to push and question the thinking in the room, offer up a different point of view and never feel like I don’t have the right to participate because I’m “the intern.”