To paraphrase a great chanteuse and ‘80s icon, we definitely believe that children are our future, which is why for the second year, we recruited and trained a group of five marketing hopefuls during our formal summer internship program. However, what is taught in school doesn’t always easily translate to the real world. How will certain skills and strengths hold up once removed from the bubble of campus life? And more crucially, what weaknesses will be revealed? It’s our goal to provide each intern class with a supportive, open learning environment—and to challenge them to think critically, question regularly and grow confidently.

For our internal team, the internship program also goes beyond having extra brain power on assignments. It provides those selected as intern managers with valuable supervisor experience, as most do not oversee anyone on a day-to-day basis. It’s their responsibility to help transition their new hire from student to intern and hopefully, arm them with the skills needed to succeed in a future, full-time role as a junior staff member, wherever they might land.

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For both interns and managers, the big pièce de résistance of the summer is the group project—if they were to envision how Hothouse’s culture would come to life in the digital realm, what would that look like? Coming together as a mini-agency, they worked over the course of 8 weeks to design, build and deploy a website, all while juggling internal dynamics, client pressures (that Jon Katinsky, he’s a tough one) and an aggressive deadline.

Each intern honed their communication skills during the discovery phase, interviewing stakeholders about their goals for the site. They faced round after round of feedback, where they needed to incorporate ideas that may have been wildly different than their original vision. Copy intern Amanda Brown noted, “It was challenging to learn to let go of the ideas I was most passionate about. I can have a great idea, but it might not be the best way to execute a strategy.” During these tasks, each intern developed their problem-solving, conflict-resolution, critical-thinking and teamwork skills. Michael Goodroe, Account Manager and manager of Account Service intern Ellie Harding, said she saw Ellie’s leadership style develop over time. “When she first started, she was unsure of her role in the team, but at the end of the program, I saw her make her mark in the Account Service role.”

It’s that kind of end result—the personal and professional growth of both interns and their managers—that we consider the mark of true success. Nurturing the next generation of talent will continue to be a Hothouse priority. We just hope they remember us all when giving their Cannes Lion speeches.