Summertime student interns building brands with The Agency in York
Wednesday, July 20th, 2022
Completing a classroom project for a grade is one thing.
Completing a project on behalf of a client? Making your pitch, adjusting your designs, accommodating special requests, and taking into account everything from print costs to client deadlines? That’s a whole other level of real-world challenge that designers and artists face on a regular basis.
Four Pennsylvania College of Art & Design students are spending this summer running a summer version of The Agency, the College’s in-house creative agency. Under the guidance of Prof. Bill Dussinger, Paige Bowermaster ’23, Graphic Design; Ezra Davulcu ‘23, Illustration; Cleo Kendrick ‘24, Graphic Design; and Austin Taylor ‘24, Graphic Design are fulfilling paid internships that are in the midst of creating branding and marketing materials for five York-area non-profit organizations.
And, though some of those students have experience working in The Agency as an academic-year class, this is the first time that The Agency has branched out for summer internships, and it’s also The Agency’s introduction to the York County arts and non-profit communities.
“The students here are getting a lot more out of it, and learning a lot more than they probably even think they are,” Dussinger says. “There’s a lot going on this summer. At The Agency (during the school year) we can only do a couple projects because of time limitations, but this is a lot at one time: It’s more of a career experience.”
As a team, The Agency students this summer are tackling a variety of work, from logo redesigns to websites, for five York-area clients: The Well’s Food Pantry; Suicide Prevention of York”s “Make It Okay” mental health campaign; Rainbow Rose Center ; Lawilowan American Indian Festival’s Muddy Run Powwow event; and the Teaching Museum for the Fiber Arts & Textiles.
Those non-profit organizations were chosen from a pool of nearly 20 applicants during last spring’s Give Local York, that community’s day-long fundraiser. “We wanted to get them up to speed in the 21st century, for groups that didn’t necessarily have the materials or money, or know-how to get (this kind of work) done,” Dussinger says.
Kendrick agrees that the summertime Monday-through-Friday schedule has intensified the Agency experience. “One thing we have this summer is time,” she says, “and we can bang stuff out quickly. In a class, for example, it would take a whole semester to do what we’ve done already.” It’s also provided time for intense focus, Taylor says, “because we have time to work on just these projects, instead of 30 different school projects” for other classes.
Having the summertime internship experience in York, Dussinger says, doesn’t take away from other advertising and marketing agencies in the region. “Having the time is great; having the space is great” to explore more intensive projects, he says. “It’s getting better and better.”
The summer internship experience has provided a significant learning curve, Bowermaster says, even for those who already have design work in their portfolio. “Dealing with clients is a big learning curve because a lot of them (are in) different age groups. So you have to adapt how you talk to the clients and meet their different wants.”
Each intern has assumed primary responsibility for one of the clients this summer but, as a small, close-knit team, all four pitch in when needed to take advantage of specific expertise and to provide valuable, real-time feedback. It’s also giving them a chance to branch out skills they already have: As the sole Illustration major with an Agency summer internship, for example, Davulcu has the opportunity to add some graphic design experience to his portfolio of work.
That teamwork has made it possible, in many cases, to provide the non-profit clients with even more than they originally requested.
Taylor, whose work this summer centered on needs voiced by Suicide Prevention of York, initially focused on a logo for the organization. That work, however, then branched out into other collateral materials, from a banner and business cards to posters, fliers, T-shirts, and stickers. Bowermaster, whose summer focus was The Well’s food pantry, said that client started with very little in terms of marketing materials and now has a fully drafted website “that really blew them away when it was presented.”
The four interns also are able to form more significant relationships with their summer clients, they said, sometimes visiting their clients on site and seeing on the ground not only what the client does, but who The Agency is designing for.
In turn, Dussinger says, that extra experience leads to “questions I get that are things I wouldn’t normally explain ahead of time.”
The community’s response so far, the interns say, has been positive.
“We were open during the July First Friday (celebrations in York), ” Kendrick says. “And someone told me, ‘I would love to get stuff done by you guys, and I would pay for it.'”
That kind of feedback, all four say, is a great motivator.
“This is what I want to do when I graduate: work for an agency or an established team. It’s what I want my main gig to be,” Bowermaster says. “And getting compensated for our work this summer makes it more real. Every day you’re here from 10 until 4, you’re doing something in your field.”