Q&A With Our 2018 Summer Interns
Each summer, we welcome an intern (or two!) into the fold. Under our Training Manager’s tutelage, they explore the world of social media. Who better to answer questions about the internship program than the interns themselves?


Each summer, we welcome an intern (or two!) to the team. Under our Training Manager Drew Gneiser’s tutelage, they explore the world of social media through a threefold approach: one month immersed in our Community Manager Training Program, one month shadowing different brand teams, and one month in the throes of a research project.

Who better to answer questions about the internship program than the 2018 summer interns themselves? 

What is the most unique thing about working at The Social Lights?

Shea O’Gara: The culture. I am extremely lucky to work at a place where everyone is so friendly and willing to help! Everyone loves what they do and has so much passion for the work they produce.

Nick Furlong: People are recognized and appreciated based on the work they do and the values they demonstrate. Also, the swings. There are swings in the office. That’s pretty unique.

What makes internships at TSL different than internships elsewhere?

Shea: Throughout the TSL internship, we learned about and shadowed each department to figure out what we were interested in rather than being stuck in one department finding out we aren’t interested in it. We explored multiple avenues, which I don’t think you get in most internships.

Nick: The focus on both personal and professional growth is really uncommon with most internships. There was such an emphasis on training and learning that really paid off (I hope) on both ends. Another difference came in the way the interns are treated. I never felt like I was being treated like anything less than an important, valuable member of the team. That attitude is rare and so crucial.

What misconceptions did you have about an internship at TSL?

Shea: When I first started TSL, I was nervous because I wasn’t familiar with the tools and felt like I would be behind. I realized that we all go through the same training program and learn the same things, which made me feel more comfortable.

What is the Community Manager Training Program (CMTP) like?

Nick: The Community Manager Training Program is a testament to the value and importance The Social Lights places on growth, training, and learning. A lot of care and thought were put into all ten lessons that cover a breadth of information and detail what goes into being a social media community manager (there’s a lot).

TSL Interns

Throughout the duration of the program, it became clear how much I hadn’t known about the capabilities of social media. Even after having worked briefly in social media and existed in that world for so long, it took a training process like this, and a teacher like Drew, to show me the depth and ability of the medium. At the end of CMTP, we showcased what we had learned with a final project in which we developed a social plan for a brand. This included social listening, audience analysis, creating a content calendar, and creation of the content itself.

We presented our final projects to the entire agency and were then given the chance to answer questions regarding our process and our methodology. CMTP really was a great way to enter a new internship and to get a full understanding of exactly how things are done, not just at The Social Lights but in the industry as a whole.

What is shadowing like?

Shea: Being able to shadow each department was an incredible experience. It was really cool to see what we learned in CMTP happening in the day-to-day and to learn how each department does community management a little differently.

Nick: The most unique thing about shadowing at The Social Lights was the diversity of departments you have the opportunity to work with and experience. Through our month of shadowing, we were able to work alongside the Account Managers, Strategists, and Community Managers. This allowed for an entire picture of what client work looks like at a social-only agency.

We also had the opportunity to shadow internal departments as well, like the Operations Team and Business Development Team. This process showed me where my interests and skills lie in a way classes never could while giving me a solid understanding of the team dynamics and duties at The Social Lights.

Which is your favorite office dog?

Nick: Harvey. He’s a real good boy.

Shea: Teddy

What did working at The Social Lights change your perspective on?

Shea: Having an internship at The Social Lights changed my perspective on internships overall. When I think of interning, I picture of getting the short end of the stick and only being able to learn something in one department. TSL’s internship allowed me to explore each team, and I was able to express what I was most interested in and do some projects with those teams!

Nick: The unique, narrow focus of the work done at The Social Lights changed my perspective on advertising – and the role of social media in its future. Having started up classes again in my senior year at the University of Minnesota, I’ve realized just how much my knowledge and perspective on advertising changed through this internship. Classes just don’t seem nearly as abstract and hypothetical as they used to.

If you could describe your internship at TSL in one word, what would it be?

Shea: Motivating.

Nick: Dynamic.

What is your favorite memory or moment of your internship?

Shea: My favorite moment of my internship was being able to attend State of The Social Lights. It was so insightful and interesting to bring all the pieces that we had heard people talk about together and see the “big picture.” It was cool that we were involved in this, especially as interns. It really proved how open TSL is to their employees

Nick: There are so many great memories! It’s hard to choose! Presenting the final intern project, a competitive audit, with Shea was a great memory. We had been working hard on it for a long time, and it was nice to know the work I did was actually going to be impactful for the agency. I’ve also just always loved presenting!

What was the most valuable thing that you learned during your time at TSL?

Shea: It’s okay not to know the answer to something and have to ask questions. That’s part of learning, and it’s a big part of TSL.

Nick: I think I gained a really profound understanding of how I work, both as a person and as an employee. This is a product of one of the core value that’s so critical to the culture at TSL: growth.

I had the opportunity to do so much exploration, and I found what works best for me in a work setting, how I can best organize my thoughts, and how I can bring the best insights out of myself and others. These are all things that are hard to quantify, but it’s been apparent lately how much I really did learn about how I tick.

I also learned that I can drink six La Croixs (is that the plural form?) in a single workday.

What advice would you give to future interns at TSL?

Shea: Fully immerse yourself in the culture and the work itself. Don’t be afraid to try something new, ask questions, and do something that makes you a little uncomfortable.

Nick: Ask questions, speak up, get to know everyone, pet the dogs, offer to help, take advantage of the immense brain power all around, and be ready to explore. These people know what they’re doing.

Want to learn more? You’re invited to our Internship Preview Event on January 17, 2019 from 4:30 to 6 p.m. at TSL HQ. Interested applicants are invited to take a tour of our space, meet our team, hear from former interns during an AMA, and participate in a content session. RSVP on Eventbrite here.

Interested? Apply for the 2019 Summer Internship here

Want to work with us? Contact us here.

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Background on The Social Lights
The Social Lights® is a social-first agency headquartered in Minneapolis that partners with clients to grow their business through strategy development, creative production, media buying, and social media management. Current clients include General Mills, Ecolab, Cargill, Caribou Coffee, Kwik Trip, Polaris and Massage Envy. The Social Lights was founded in 2011 and is a WBENC-Certified Women Business Enterprise. Learn more at The Social Lights.

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