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 20–35 hours per week, making $15.25/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 in our three cities: New Orleans, Atlanta, and Washington, DC.

COVID-19 & Our Specialist Program

2022 Update: At the moment, Specialists have the choice to work in office or remote. All employees and Specialists are required to be vaccinated (except for medical/religious exclusions). We expect to provide 2022 Specialists with the option to work in-office or remote (in the same region as one of our offices), though that may change because global pandemics tend to be unpredictable.

2022 Fall Specialist Applications Open June 1st, 2022

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.

Cold, Hard Cash

We provide $15.25/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 have multiple Specializations that applications may select from—you do need experience in the department to be accepted.

Available Specializations vary by application period. They’re typically from the below options.

Social Media

You should apply if:

  • You have real-world experience managing social media platforms for organizations or companies.
  • You want hands-on experience with the business side of Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.
  • You love building engagement across multiple social media platforms.
  • You’re interested in a career managing social media for professional organizations.

If accepted, your day-to-day work may consist of:

  • Creating weekly social media content for clients
  • Growing Instagram engagement
  • Analyzing paid social advertising
  • Crafting varied posts across industries & networks
Vector pen drawing points

Digital Design

You should apply if:

  • You have significant experience (and the portfolio to back it up) with a variety of artistic styles.
  • You’re highly skilled with the Adobe Creative Cloud, particularly Photoshop, Illustrator, and After Effects.
  • You take criticism well and stay motivated to perfect designs.
  • You want hands-on experience designing for organizations in our three cities and around the country.

If accepted, your day-to-day work may consist of:

  • Crafting graphics and advertisements for a variety of businesses online
  • Following varied brand guidelines
  • Working with new digital media like GIFs, cinemagraphs, and animations
  • Utilizing Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, and AfterEffects
Paid advertising

Google Ads

You should apply if:

  • You have real-world experience working for a business or organization with Google Ads, Google Analytics, or another digital advertising platform.
  • You want hands-on experience with Google Ads, YouTube Advertising, Amazon Ads, and Geofencing campaigns.
  • You love working in both creative and data-driven advertising departments.
  • You’re interested in a career working in the $27 billion Google advertising space.

If accepted, your day-to-day work may consist of:

  • Crafting new advertising copy for campaigns
  • Reviewing reporting for clients and recommending strategy changes
  • Doing competitive PPC Research for current clients and pitches
  • Working with our Digital Ads team to test out new platforms

Content Marketing & SEO

You should apply if:

  • You have experience writing for a professional organization with the portfolio/writing samples to prove it.
  • You love writing all day, every day.
  • You’re interested in creating content for a variety of industries.
  • You’ve been told you have an eye for detail and impeccable grammar.

If accepted, your day-to-day work may consist of:

  • Assisting in creative research for long-form content pieces
  • Crafting blog posts drafts for approval
  • Performing keyword research to determine high-value content opportunities
  • A nearly infinite amount of writing
Green Clapperboard Icon

Video Production & Editing

You should apply if:

  • You have experience providing video content for a professional business or non-profit.
  • You’re just as comfortable shooting footage on an iPhone as you are on a Sony α7 III.
  • You’re adept at Adobe Premiere, Final Cut Pro, and similar software.

If accepted, your day-to-day work may consist of:

  • Assisting our Creative Strategist with video shoots
  • Brainstorming video ideas to promote our internal culture
  • Listening in on client meetings to discuss video projects
  • Editing clips for our clients and our own social media channels

Business Development

You should apply if:

  • You’ve previously helped establish or grow a small/medium sized business in some fashion.
  • You want hands-on experience seeing how digital marketing campaigns are advertised and sold.
  • You love both talking to people, and working with data.
  • You’re interested in a career in sales or business development.

If accepted, your day-to-day work may consist of:

  • Working under our team’s leadership to help grow our agency
  • Utilizing a CRM and Google Analytics to help track leads for Online Optimism
  • Creating and implementing new business development strategies
  • Sitting in on actual client discoveries and pitches with businesses
Group of people


You should apply if:

  • You want hands-on experience in cultivating the culture of a growing small business.
  • You enjoy writing and creating spreadsheets.
  • You have experience in, and a passion for, planning and coordinating events.
  • You are exceptionally Optimistic, and like to make people happy!

If accepted, your day-to-day work may consist of:

  • Coordinating upcoming office events with our Operations and Social Media teams
  • Creating survey forms, spreadsheets, slide decks, and documents via Google Workspace
  • Researching fun office events in Atlanta, Washington, DC, and New Orleans
  • Writing blogs about our culture and submitting applications for awards/recognition

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.

Corynne Sarrett

Specialist Program, Summer, 2018

Ready to Be a Specialist?

Our next specialist terms are below:

2022 Fall Specialist Applications Open: June
2022 Fall Specialist Term:
August – December

2023 Winter/Spring Specialist Applications Open: Middle of September – Middle of October
2023 Winter/Spring Specialist Term:
January – May

2023 Summer Specialist Applications Open: February
2023 Summer Specialist Term:
May – August

If you’d like to be notified when future applications open, please submit your information below.