Ohio State Organization and Columbus Marketing Agency Offer Internships for Black Students

Micahiah Brown-Davis, a fourth year journalism student, is one of two student interns at the shipyard as part of a collaboration with the Ohio State’s Black Advertising and Strategic Communication Association.

A new Ohio State student internship program aims to increase black representation in marketing.

Columbus-based marketing agency The Shipyard has pledged to hire two interns from the Ohio Black Advertising Strategic Communication Association each summer, with the possibility of additional internships during the school year, said Osei Appiah, BASCA educational advisor.

Rick Milenthal, CEO of The Shipyard, said a commitment to developing young talent could change the industry for years to come.

“Advertising agencies are supposed to help consumers reach all audiences,” Milenthal said. “Yet most advertising companies have a woefully unrepresentative number of black professionals.”

In 2019, 8.1% of employees in advertising, public relations, and related services were black, according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics. White employees made up 82.6 percent.

About ten years ago, Appiah, a professor at the School of Communication, started BASCA after a conversation with Milenthal about the under-representation of black professionals in marketing. This summer, Appiah got a call from Milenthal, who wanted to use The Shipyard to improve black college students’ access to marketing.

Wedly Cazy, a fourth year in strategic communications, is one of the shipyard’s first two interns. He said the internship allowed him to work in all departments of the agency and learn skills that he couldn’t learn in the classroom. The position also provided opportunities for professional development and networking.

“I was fortunate to have supportive mentors who helped me and prepared me for success in the industry,” Cazy said.

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Wedly Cazy, a fourth year in strategic communications, is the shipyard’s other intern. Cazy said accessing mentors was something he wouldn’t have had without the internship.

Networking, like the internship experience, is critical to professional success, said Appiah. Without available mentors, it can be difficult to break into competitive fields like marketing and public relations, which rely heavily on networks.

“A lot of times it’s not necessarily about what you know, but who you know,” Appiah said. What you know will keep you in your job, but who you know will get you into jobs.

Micahiah Brown-Davis, a fourth year in journalism, is BASCA’s second intern at the shipyard this summer. She said she appreciates that Milenthal has identified the lack of representation in the marketing industry and hopes other advertising companies will follow suit.

“It was great for me and Wedly, the other intern, for us to be a part of creating representation in a marketing agency and hopefully more agencies will do things like that,” said Brown-Davis.

In addition to its commitment to hire interns, The Shipyard will advocate for increased representation of blacks to other traders, clients and agencies by communicating with them about the importance of their voice, Appiah said. He said he hopes the relationship between BASCA and The Shipyard will lead to the formation of BASCA chapters at other universities to form partnerships with other agencies.

“This will give [Black students] the work experience needed to get entry-level employment in the field and ultimately create a pipeline for companies across the country to achieve, ”said Appiah.

Cazy said he has struggled to find other black marketing professionals and hopes he can encourage future generations to enter the traditionally white-dominated industry.

“I am so happy that The Shipyard continues to have this internship experience with the BASCA members as it will be a great way for black communication majors to test the waters and get their foot in the door,” said declared Cazy. “I am eternally grateful for this internship.

Virginia S. Braud