Specialist Program

Applications will open in February 2024 for our Summer Specialist program.

Other agencies might call it an internship program, but we offer and expect more.

Our Specialist program was crafted to be the leading program for college students and recent grads to build a future career in marketing or design. We see it as the last internship you’ll ever do.

Our Specialists work 15–35 hours per week, making $17/hour, collaborating with our full-time employees, working for both our clients and Online Optimism itself. In return, we make sure they receive valuable, real-world experience, and the opportunity to team up with the best and brightest working in-office in New Orleans, and Washington, DC.

Real Work, Real Experience

This opportunity isn’t about getting your boss coffee—we already have cold brew on tap for that.

You’ll spend your time here working on real assignments and projects, being involved in actual client work, and teaming up with full-time Optimists as well as handling tasks independently.

A group of Specialists

Cold, Hard Cash

We provide $17/hour pay to all of our Specialists. For those still in school, we’re also happy to do everything we can to get you college credit.

Getting You a Job (Here or Elsewhere)

We truly strive to make this the last internship you’ll ever have. While we certainly consider our Specialists first for all full-time employment opportunities, we simply can’t offer a position to everyone and therefore work to ensure you’re desirable to all our competitors. We’ll work with you throughout the semester to build up your portfolio. We also introduce you to the departments you don’t apply for, so you can learn about the different aspects of a digital marketing agency.

As the culmination of this work, we provide our Specialists with a program we call Closing The Curtain, where you’ll spend time on the clock getting paid, to learn the skills you need to get a job at places not called Online Optimism. This includes:

  • Finalizing your portfolio
  • Editing your resume/cover letter
  • Having a mock-interview with our CEO
  • Job search advice, based on your specific career goals.

We do everything we can to tee you up for long-term success.

Closing the Curttain

Learning to Better Your Community

As part of our efforts to educate, inform, and improve our work, our Optimists often attend networking and educational events. We believe this need extends to our Specialists as well. While you’re a Specialist at Online Optimism, we’ll be sending you to at least 2 virtual networking events that emphasize the importance of diversity, equity, and inclusion in marketing, like this presentation. You’ll also have the opportunity to join our organization’s bookclub, and participate in other efforts that our agency is working toward.

We are Offering Three Specialist Programs in Spring 2024.

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Digital Design

Job Description:

This is a 25–40 hour / week Specialist position for Spring 2024. Your work will cover creating designs across all of our departments at Online Optimism. Depending on your strengths, you may develop skills in:

  • Graphic design, focused on social media graphics and digital ads.
  • Crafting physical collateral.
  • WordPress website frontend development work.
  • Animations and other motion graphic pieces.
You Want:
  • a career in graphic design or creative production.
  • the opportunity to create visual content on behalf of our agency and our clients.
  • to build out your portfolio across industries and mediums.
You Have:
  • significant experience (and the portfolio to back it up) with a variety of artistic styles.
  • skills with the Adobe Creative Cloud, particularly Photoshop, Illustrator, and After Effects.
  • a willingness to take criticism well and stay motivated to perfect designs.
You’re excited by:
  • crafting graphics and advertisements for a variety of businesses online.
  • following very specific brand guidelines.
  • utilizing Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, and AfterEffects.
Four clock icons

Digital Marketing

Job Description:

This is a 25–40 hour / week Specialist position for Spring 2024. Your work will cover all of our marketing departments at Online Optimism. Depending on your strengths, you may develop skills in:

  • Social media, including content creation, strategy, and copywriting
  • Content marketing, including blog posting, link-building strategies, and SEO tagging.
  • Digital Ads, including keyword research and ad generation.
  • New business development, including analysis of online organizations.
You Want:
  • to build on any previous digital marketing experience/knowledge you have.
  • the opportunity to work across departments, acting nimbly to complete tasks on time at a higher quality.
  • to work at one of the top digital agencies.
You Have:
  • Previous experience, through internships or other extracurricular work, doing digital marketing. We understand this can be frustrating to see requested for our own internship, but we offer one of the highest paid marketing internships in the country and most applicants will have this.
  • Superb writing skills.
You’re excited by:
  • the chance to work across different departments in an agency.
  • a hybrid environment, collaborating with team members in-office and remote.
  • feeling Optimistic.
Thinking Outside the Box for Insights

AI Marketing

Job Description:

This is a 15 hour / week Specialist position for Spring 2024. Your work will be evenly divided between:

  • 25% providing guidance on utilizing generative AI at our agency (building prompt libraries, creating best practice guides for colleagues)
  • 25% optimizing our current work via Generative AI (copyediting via ChatGPT, adding images to content via MidJourney, etc.)
  • 25% sharing insights on potential new AI tools to leadership
  • 25% creating content around Generative AI for Online Optimism’s social media channels and blog
You Want:
  • To get professional experience utilizing AI tools in the workforce.
  • The opportunity to apply your interests in AI with the processes and structure that comes from a larger workforce.
  • To work in an environment that sees AI as a chance to improve our company.
You Have:
  • Experience utilizing generative AI to accomplish goals beyond your schoolwork.
  • A knack for spotting actual opportunities beyond simply the latest buzzwords.
  • Confidence to create content that requires minimal editing to be published professionally.
You’re excited by:
  • A chance to learn the latest generative AI tools.
  • The ability to create content that gets published on our agency’s site and social media channels.
  • Educating others – even those less enthusiastic about AI – on how these tools can improve their workday.

It’s Not for Freshmen

We have three requirements for our specialist applicants:

  1. First and foremost, an individual who works hard and wants to be a part of something exceptional.
  2. Already graduated, or graduating within the next twelve months, preferably leading to a degree in Marketing, Communications, English, Design, or Statistics.
  3. A previous internship, or some other professional experience, related to the department you’re applying for.

We’re aware: it can be frustrating to see a company expecting pre-entry-level applicants who are just starting out to already have experience, but our program isn’t marketing 101. You’re doing real work your first week, which means you will have to bring a lot to the table.

For this reason, and the opportunities provided by our program, the majority of our Specialists are recent graduates, with the rest either MFAs, currently earning an MBA, current seniors, or standout rising seniors.

We typically receive between 150–250 applicants each semester for the positions and look forward to seeing how you stand out from the rest.

Lacking the Required Experience?

Not a rising senior? Went into work for yourself instead of college and worried about our requirements? If you think you can handle this opportunity, and have something exceptional in your background to make up for the lack of degree, feel free to apply. We absolutely do consider everyone who takes the time to complete our application.

Read up on our tips and tricks on making your application stand out!

Hear It from Previous Specialists

Reflecting on my journey at Online Optimism, I can say that one of the greatest work values I learned was to “be exceptionally helpful.” It’s this idea that “You didn’t need to, but thank you for doing it” that has impressed the people I now work with – and I learned it from my coworkers at Online Optimism. I learned this quality from my supervisor, Meara McNitt, and by the examples set by the people I worked with as they exude this value in the dedication they show their clients, their coworkers, and to Online Optimism itself. Before my time at Online Optimism, I experienced several environments that were certainly not conducive to being driven and wanting to step up in my work. Not so at Online Optimism, where I wanted to achieve, to learn, to grow as a digital marketer and to do the best job I could for our clients.

Joseph Schluter
Joe Schluter
Social Media Specialist, Summer 2021

My time at Online Optimism as a Digital Ads Specialist was a great opportunity to learn skills that made me a competitive candidate in the paid search field. I got hands-on experience with Google Ads, Analytics, and Data Studio, giving me an eye-catching portfolio. I also received interview training, as well as resume and portfolio tips. This played a key role in helping me land a position once I had completed the program. The Specialist program was a great opportunity for me and allowed me to get a job quickly. One of the best internships in the business!

Lane Broadwell
Lane Broadwell
Content Specialist, Summer 2021

As a Digital Design Specialist, I was able to work on a wide range of projects for a diverse clientele while also expanding my skills in Adobe AfterEffects, Photoshop, InDesign and WordPress. The program helped me strengthen my portfolio, resume and cover letter as well as prepare me for future job interviews so that I could successfully score a position with a company down the line. I’ve never felt more ready and excited to take the next steps in my career.

Katie Mikulich
Katie Mikulich
Specialist Program, Summer and Fall 2020

The specialist program allowed me to build my social media marketing skills in a positive, collaborative environment. Through hands-on experience and guidance from the Online Optimism team, I completed the program with a strong portfolio, prepared to confidently enter the workforce.

Michaela Loudermilk
Specialist Program, Summer, 2018

As a Summer Specialist, I wrote content for clients that was published in The Washington Post, Bustle, Elite Daily, CMSWire, Business Insider, and more. Online Optimism provided me with opportunities to learn and work closely with full-time employees, building both my skillset and portfolio.

Young woman smiles at camera
Corynne Sarrett
Specialist Program, Summer, 2018
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Our Specialist programs run for the following months:

2024 Winter/Spring Specialist Applications Open: Middle of September–Middle of October
2024 Winter/Spring Specialist Term: January–May

2024 Summer Specialist Applications Open: February
2024 Summer Specialist Term: May–August

2024 Fall Specialist Applications Open: June
2024 Fall Specialist Term: August–December

Summer Specialist Applications Open: February
Summer Specialist Term:
May – August