The Intern Experience at INNOVATIVE

One of the coolest things about INNOVATIVE is just how many of our employees started as interns and found a second home here. In fact, twenty percent of our current employees were interns first, including Curt, Drew, Chad, and myself. Now, after 15+ years at the company, I have the honor of managing our internship program and helping other young professionals get the most out of their experience.

Our philosophy is that interns should get just as much—if not more out of their internship than their employer. That’s why we go out of our way to make sure our interns get involved. We teach them the techniques of the trade. We give them plenty of hands-on experience, and most importantly, we trust them to take the lead on their assignments. Because when you create opportunities for growth, interns usually rise to the occasion.

I could go on and on about what makes our internship program great. But I think it’s best to let testimonials speak for themselves. So, I reached out to a few of our most recent interns to get their perspective on the INNO experience.

Meet Julia Sifferlen, Chad Veal, and Lexie Manor.

These former INNO interns have all seen amazing success early in their careers. Julia earned her Masters in Journalism Technology and now works as a Growth Strategist at DoorDash. Chad’s internship led to him joining the INNOVATIVE team as a full-time Editor and Videographer. And our most recent intern, Lexie, landed her first job as a Strategic Account Coordinator for Pence Media Group.

Julia sitting on a bench in front of a green screen holding up peace sign with her fingers.
Chad standing behind a teleprompter and camera shooting a video.
Lexie sitting at a table and holding a camera up to pose for the photo.

You’ve had a variety of internships over the years. What was unique about your INNOVATIVE internship experience?

Julia: My INNOVATIVE internship was the first internship where I didn’t feel like… well, an intern! Within weeks, I was handed the reins of a months-long workstream with tons of VIP stakeholders in the Indianapolis community. I can’t recall a single day where I felt like I was just doing “busy work.” My work made a direct impact on the company, and I will always remember how it felt to be trusted like that for the first time.

Chad: An INNOVATIVE internship is unique because you’re assigned to do things that most companies wouldn’t let you do. It’s not an “organize-Excel-sheets-and-get-coffee” type of internship. You’re actually in the room, meeting with clients and working with everyone else. I think it speaks to the trust that INNOVATIVE has in their interns when they take them on.

Lexie: When I interned at INNOVATIVE, I didn’t feel like just an intern; I felt like a real employee. I was fully immersed in the company culture and was held accountable for far more deliverables than my other internships had assigned. All in all, the amount of growth I experienced exceeded all expectations and far surpassed that of my previous internships.

Share one of your favorite experiences during your internship.

Julia: Probably the coolest opportunity I had at INNOVATIVE was leading my own multimedia series, Julia Joins In for Indyfluence 2020. The team handed me all the resources I needed to build something great and then just let me loose! I created an assortment of videos, blogs, and social media posts with full creative control—and had tons of fun doing it! I loved this job because I got to work with lots of cross-functional partners on a daily basis from copywriters to video editors to producers.

Chad: My favorite experience was probably filming for the 2021 March Madness Tournament in Indianapolis. That year, the NCAA had to host the entire tournament in one city for the first time ever, so there was a lot of work to be done. INNOVATIVE worked with Indiana Sports Corp to make a documentary about the whole experience, and I filmed a lot of content that ended up in the final cut. As a basketball fan, the whole experience was not only cool, but it also made me feel like I contributed to the tournament and helped preserve the story behind the Madness.

How did your internship at INNOVATIVE help set you up for success?

Julia: My internship at INNOVATIVE gave me a portfolio of professional, high-quality work that I could use in interviews for grad school and my current role. While school assignments and passion projects are wonderful to have, nothing beats having published, reviewed work when you’re trying to flex your talents. The INNOVATIVE team was also incredibly intentional about providing meaningful feedback—whether it be positive or constructive—which armed me with the tools I needed to talk about my own experience.

Chad: Interning at INNOVATIVE allowed me to see the variety of work that they—and now we—interact with on the daily. From videography to event production, getting diverse experience with projects across the company was a huge pull for me. I also got to make connections with people and clients across Central Indiana, and as someone who loves Indianapolis, I knew no other creative agency could beat that.

Lexie: My internship at INNOVATIVE actually connected me with my current boss. After talking with Nicole Halper about my interest in broadcasting, she suggested I set up up a call with Nicole Pence Becker. Then, when Becker and I finally spoke, she offered me an internship the following January—and that turned into my first full-time job. Not only did I connect with my future boss, but my internship at INNOVATIVE also introduced me to several big names in the Indianapolis community. This only proved to me that everyone has a seat at the table at INNOVATIVE, even young professionals.

Would you recommend an INNOVATIVE internship to other students?

Julia: I would absolutely recommend an internship at INNOVATIVE to anyone looking to create something impactful, flex their creative muscles, and bolster their portfolio. The role will excite you, challenge you, and teach you to approach problems in new ways. Plus, the INNO team is not only fun and welcoming, but also some of the most talented and hardworking people I’ve ever worked with. You won’t leave a single day feeling bored or like you haven’t learned something new.

Chad: An internship at INNOVATIVE is great for someone who wants to get started in the creative industry. If you feel ready to have a significant role on projects, INNOVATIVE lets you take lead while learning from experienced professionals in the industry.

Lexie: I would recommend an internship at INNOVATIVE to anyone looking to grow both professionally and personally. The team at INNOVATIVE encouraged me to be my best everyday and pushed me to learn more than I thought possible in a short, 3-month span. Their vibrant office only reflects the bold, fast-paced demeanor of the INNOVATIVE employees. They played a huge role in shaping me into the young professional and person I am today.

Find the internship opportunity that’s right for you.

Hearing from Julia, Chad, and Lexie made one thing really clear to me: our most successful interns are those who come in looking for a challenge. These three young professionals were some of the best and brightest interns we could ask for—endlessly diligent, creative, and motivated. They came into this job ready to learn, and we could not be more proud of what they’ve accomplished in their careers. 

But the truth is that this internship isn’t for everyone. Our work is often fast-paced and self-driven—and not all interns are ready for that responsibility. This wouldn’t be a good opportunity for someone who needs a lot of handholding. But for someone more driven—someone curious and determined who isn’t afraid of being thrown in the deep end—an INNOVATIVE internship can be pretty life-changing. 

If you think you would excel as an intern here at INNOVATIVE, feel free to reach out to us at [email protected].