In July, we graduated the first class from our bootcamp replacement, the Shine mentorship program. Like bootcamp, Shine is a way for our team to give back by inspiring a new generation of advertising professionals. Obviously, the name relates to our name Clean, but it’s more about shining a light on the different advertising career paths and giving students a chance to shine by showing their creativity.

Unlike bootcamp, Shine is focused on students from Enloe High School in Raleigh, for now at least. So, why the change? Well, frankly, when the pandemic forced us to cancel bootcamp, we decided to reevaluate the program. We wanted to revamp it to help expand diversity, inclusion, and opportunity in advertising. After several conversations with local colleges, including some HBCUs, we learned that many college students don’t know about the different career opportunities within advertising or simply don’t see advertising as a viable career path for them.

If we were going to help expand diversity at Clean, and in the industry at large, we needed to expose students to opportunities earlier. College is too late. They need to be thinking of an advertising career before heading to college. So, we shifted our focus from college students to high school juniors and seniors.

Our inaugural group of students: Crystal, Cynthia, Janani, Karen, and Elizabeth, began their week with an introduction to Clean. During the week, they learned about the different disciplines within the agency in an order that mirrored our process. First, they were introduced to account management and project management, as well as their client for the week. Second, they learned strategy and media, and they began thinking about their strategic approach to the client challenge. Next, they were introduced to creative and began brainstorming creative approaches to their strategic plan. Finally, they presented their ideas to our team over some celebratory refreshments.

It was fun to see the students open up more and more each day. They all had great ideas, and their feedback on the program will help us improve it for the next group. If it all goes well, we’ll see some of our graduates come back as future interns or employees to help us shine.