As a current intern, I have a vested interest in the world of interning… and I finally stumbled across some very interesting news about my little world:
The Facts: New York digital agency MRM is providing five interns a 6-month internship with the company while living rent-free in an Ikea-furnished 3-bedroom Brooklyn apartment. The program is called “The Apartment” and the interns share their experiences in New York and at MRM on a blog.
The Reasoning: MRM Execs say they are offering this to interns in order to better recruit the top ad students because, in recent years, MRM has missed out on top intern talent because students choose to line up at agencies like Weiden & Kennedy or Goodby Silverstein.
The Interesting: The thing I find most interesting is that this is not funded solely by MRM- because the interns are considered billable staff on accounts, MRM clients like Microsoft, Exxon, Mastercard and Diageo will be footing part of the bill to house these interns.
This seems like a really cool idea from an intern perspective- getting to live rent-free in New York while interning? Pretty good deal. But I have two major issues with this and I will address them accordingly:
1. Should clients really be footing the bill to house these interns?
I understand that, when it comes down to it, an agency runs on billing clients. But if I were an MRM client and saw my advertising dollars being spent to put interns up in a Brooklyn apartment, I’m not sure how thrilled I would be about that. MRM definitely has some big-budget clients, but no matter how much money I had to burn, I would much prefer to be putting that into a better campaign rather than funding some students to live in NYC. It’s reasonable that some companies arrange housing for interns, but a deluxe swanky NYC loft seems like an inefficient way to spend client money.
2. If you want to attract the top ad students in the country, put your energies into becoming an attractive top agency rather than just bribing students with extravagant accommodations.
While I can’t knock MRM for launching an effective way to get interns significantly more interested in their program, it does seem like a bit of a cheap way to go about it. They obviously have an abundance of money to throw around and I feel like it would be better spent doing innovative and creative things for their clients to make MRM as attractive and desirable to interns as Weiden & Kennedy or Goodby (or Bailey Gardiner) are.
All-in all, I think this is a dynamite opportunity for interns (I’ll always applaud fellow interns for getting a sweet hook-up and I do love Ikea furniture) and it’s cool to see interns get cool recognition in Ad Age for being involved in something like this. However, from an agency perspective- I’d rather have people intern because of a genuine interest in the company and not because they’re looking to live rent-free. I think, in the long run, I’d prefer to have a company built with loyal people that were all there because they sincerely believed in the work being done.