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 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, hourly pay, and the opportunity to team up with the best and brightest in the city.

COVID-19 & Our Specialist Program

Updated February 2021: Since COVID-19 began upending the world as we know it, our Specialists have had the opportunity to work entirely remotely. Most of them have taken the chance to do so, with a few electing to work in office following COVID-protocols. Since then, we’ve had three full Specialist programs come and go.  We feel, and our surveys of Specialists show, that this program continues to be highly successful in accomplishing its goals through COVID-19.

Applications Currently Open Until February 28, 2021.

What Are Some Features of Our Specialist Program?

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. As one of our Specialists, you’ll leave us with a complete portfolio of work as well as a killer answer when you’re asked to talk about a time you proved yourself in your next interview.

Cold, Hard Cash

We provide $10/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.

Launch Your Marketing/Design Career with our Internship Program

A majority of our full-time team started at Online Optimism as Specialists, and many of our Specialists go on to work at some of the top digital marketing agencies around.

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.

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 New Orleans and around the county.

If Accepted, Your Day to Day Work May Consist of:

  • Craft Graphics for a variety of businesses online.
  • Follow Varied Brand Guidelines
  • Work with new digital media like GIFs, cinemagraphs, and animations.
  • Utilize Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, and Aftereffects.

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
  • Grow Instagram Engagement
  • Analyze Paid Social Advertising
  • Crafting Varied Posts Across Industries & Networks

Content Marketing

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:

  • Assist in creative research for long-form content pieces.
  • Craft blog posts drafts for approval.
  • Perform keyword research to determine high-value content opportunities.
  • A nearly infinite amount of writing.

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 New Orleans businesses.

Web Development

You should apply if:

  • You have previous experience with WordPress, Squarespace, Shopify, and/or Wix.
  • You’re familiar with HTML, CSS, JavaScript, jQuery, and PHP (or at least 2 out of 3).
  • You love learning new programming languages.
  • You’re interested in building a stronger WordPress portfolio.

If Accepted, Your Day to Day Work May Consist of:

  • Assisting in the buildout of websites and maintenance/debugging of existing websites
  • Working with our Design team on crafting the best user experience for new WordPress sites.
  • Join client meetings to discuss their new websites.
  • Assisting in the development of training manuals for WordPress websites.

Digital Ads / Google Ads / SEM

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:

  • Craft new advertising copy for campaigns
  • Review reporting for clients and recommend strategy changes
  • Competitive PPC Research for current clients and pitches
  • Working with our Digital Ads team to test out new platforms.


You should apply if:

  • You have previous experience working in SEO for another professional organization.
  • You’re fascinated by search engines and their algorithms.
  • You are both creative, and data-driven.
  • You’re capable of analyzing a website’s code for potential search optimizations.

If Accepted, Your Day to Day Work May Consist of:

  • Optimize Content for Search Engines
  • Generate Link-Building Strategies
  • Assist on SEO Audits
  • Brainstorm testable SEO ideas for clients

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 will be hitting the ground running with real work, which means you will have to bring a lot to the table.

For this reason, and the opportunities provided by our program, previous specialists include the usual rising seniors, as well as recent graduates and the occasional MBA and MFA.

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.

Hear it from previous specialists

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

Throughout the specialist program I was tasked with assignments that helped build my portfolio and was invited to be involved in meetings that have prepared me for dealing with clients big and small. If you are looking for an internship where you will learn and be challenged everyday, this is the place for you.

Julien Malet

Specialist Program, Spring 2018

Online Optimism saw that I wanted to learn skills that would translate to the working field and gave me the opportunities to do so. And because it is a smaller team, Specialists feel valued, trusted, and useful. I don’t think any other internship would have empowered me like my time at Online Optimism did.

Meara McNitt

Meara McNitt

Specialist Program, Spring 2017

Ready to Be a Specialist?

Currently accepting applications below.

Our periods are below:

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

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

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