One of the most important programs at Wpromote is our internship/mentorship program, and we weren’t going to let a pandemic hold us back from providing students and recent graduates with a memorable and educational experience. With so many in-person internships canceled for the summer, Wpromote decided to take a second look at our program and figure out how to make those connections in a brand new way.
The Pivot: Building A Virtual Mentorship Program
Our first task was to figure out the best and most efficient way to give students and recent grads an outstanding experience, all while being 100% online. We realized a virtual mentorship program fulfilled a lot of the educational and networking needs our internships traditionally addressed. We could prioritize uninterrupted one-on-one time between mentees and Wpromote employees on a weekly basis, while hosting virtual bi-weekly panel events with additional experts.
“I love how engaging all the Wpromote employees are during this program. Every panel, weekly video and meeting has been extremely informative and thorough. You can tell everyone has put some thought into what they are saying and how they say it.”
Wpromote employees go above and beyond to foster professional growth in themselves and others, so we knew that our teams would step up to the plate. In a few short weeks, our talent team developed a completely virtual mentorship program: 72 student mentees were admitted to the program and paired up with a Wpromote mentor to learn about various digital marketing channels.
On June 1, 2020, we launched the six-week program. Each week focused on a different digital marketing channel: paid social, paid search, programmatic, SEO, content marketing, and digital intelligence.
The Program: Fostering Learning and Growth Through Mentorship
Every Friday, we sent our Mentees an email introducing the next week’s digital marketing channel. The email included a document outlining basic information about the channel, various external resources, and a home video featuring a conversation with a Wpromote channel expert on a pre-recorded Zoom call.
The resources in the email gave mentees a convenient way to get comfortable with the channel that allowed them to learn on their own schedules. They had the opportunity to watch the videos, click through the resources, and gain overall insight about the channel before their one-on-one meetings with their mentors.
“I believe that my biggest takeaway from the program was that digital marketing and its many channels are far more complex than I could have ever imagined. I now feel much more confident about pursuing digital marketing as a career and am very grateful to have been given the opportunity to learn much more about it, alongside Wpromote’s “challenger” mindset.”
Structure was key to implementing a successful virtual program. Every week was focused on a designated topic, which allowed the Wpromote mentors to lean on each other for questions and clarification. As they worked with their mentees, our employees had the opportunity to learn even more about their own industry. They also got the chance to learn about their own management and teaching styles. Although this program was designed for students and recent grads to learn about digital marketing, we noticed our employees learned just as much about themselves.
“I have been having a great time integrating the knowledge I have gained into my understanding of marketing, and my understanding of how I interact with digital platforms. Now that I am getting a better picture of how all of these techniques work behind-the-scenes, I feel like I am coming away with a more accurate idea of how the marketing process works and what makes marketing successful.”
In addition to the core mentor-mentee relationship, the program included bi-weekly virtual panel events that addressed specific additional topics that weren’t limited by channel. Our first panel discussed the current pandemic and how Wpromote is dealing with the situation, including examples of client struggles and successes during this unprecedented time. The second panel dove into five innovative digital marketing topics, including podcasts, livestream video, personalization, micro-moments, and conversational marketing. Our third and final panel was a Q&A with two members from our C-Suite, Michael Block (COO) and Michael Stone (CRO), giving the mentees the opportunity to ask questions and get insights into digital marketing on the executive level.
The Future: Tomorrow’s Digital Marketing Leaders
We built this mentorship program as a way to help college students and recent grads get hands-on digital marketing learning and growth experiences, at a time when digital channels are more important than ever. But the mentees actually taught us more than we could have imagined.
“My biggest takeaway from the program was that the competitive advantage for a company in digital marketing is their people. It seems to me that most companies could access the same or very similar data if they wanted to and use similar tools to analyze what they collect. Of course each company has their own unique product offering, but at the end of the day the key difference between Wpromote and any other digital marketing agency is the people that work there, the values they hold, and their relentless commitment to being the best in the industry for their clients. The standard is set high!”
Throughout the program, I stayed in contact with the seventy-two mentees through a LinkedIn group, emails, and phone calls. Week after week our Mentees showed up, asked thoughtful, provoking questions, took extra online digital marketing classes and certifications, and took full advantage of everything our program had to offer (and more). I don’t doubt that some of the professional relationships developed between our mentees and their Wpromote mentors will last a lifetime.
If we’ve learned anything from our experience, it’s these two things: there’s a creative solution to every challenge, and we should never underestimate the power of young minds ready to take on the world.