This past summer Barrett Weems put his design skills to work through his Achieve college internship at Be the Match – a national leader in bone marrow transplantation headquartered in Minneapolis – and also garnered invaluable marketing experience, created a network of new professional connections and gained clarity about his future career.
Now in his final months of earning a degree in illustration at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design (MCAD), Barrett has set his sights on bringing his artistic skills to a marketing position. “I was interested in branding and marketing illustration, and my time at Be the Match solidified that,” he says. “I realized how much interaction goes on internally when creating marketing pieces, and I want to be part of that process.”
Barrett is an Eddie Phillips Scholar through the Minnesota Private College Fund’s Black Men’s Success Initiative, which is a partner organization with Achieve Twin Cities for Achieve College Internships. His strong communications and organizational skills, attention to detail and arts experience were tremendous assets for his internship marketing projects. “My design skills also played strong a role,” he says. “Design is meant to be eye-catching and it can bring emotions to the surface. As an illustrator, I have a good head for determining the best way to lay things out for the target market."
Pediatric transplant patients were Barrett’s target market at Be the Match. He worked with the organization’s educational team to update a series of worksheets that help children better understand and talk to others about what they’re experiencing. “I worked on making the language more conversational and added new activities, including a letter they can write to siblings and friends,” Barrett explains. “It’s very rewarding to know that I could help kids better understand what they’re going through.”
Barrett’s internship supervisor at Be the Match was Brittany Cardinal, manager of patient and translational marketing. Brittany says she was impressed with Barrett right from his first interview. “In his time with us he lived up to and surpassed my expectations. He brought energy, passion and valuable perspective to his work, and he had a sense of fluidity when it comes to rolling with unanticipated changes that can come with projects.”
Barrett is grateful for the opportunities Brittany provided, including her invitation to create and complete a project of his own. In addition to his work on the materials for children, Barrett also spent time during his internship learning about social media marketing. He researched current trends and looked for answers to questions like: How should a nonprofit use social media? And how much weight should be placed on data verses messaging? He also conducted informational interviews with members of the Be the Match social media marketing team to gain new insights he can use in his future career.
During his internship Barrett also discovered that he really enjoyed working in an office setting and interacting with people, "I realized that I liked the pace of the work that flows through a marketing department," he says. "It felt natural to me. I also found that I really like project management." Barrett is already using these new insights and skills back on the MCAD campus for the school's Young, Gifted, and Black student exhibition. Working with the gallery coordinator, Barrett is managing all aspects of the project, including checking in with the student artists to make sure they’re on track and will be ready for the opening.
Now looking back at his summer experience, Barrett says applying for an Achieve College Internship was an easy choice, especially after his great experience with two Step Up internships during his freshman and sophomore year at Southwest High School in Minneapolis.
“My internships helped me get into the job market,” he says with gratitude. “It would have been daunting without the help of Step Up and Achieve Twin Cities. They helped me build a resume and they have a lot of connections like the one that led me to my college internship at Be the Match. When I graduate from MCAD in December, I’ll have everything I need to be successful!”