Verizon is expanding internship program AdFellows, its paid fellowship that allows participants to explore working in a variety of roles at Verizon and its agency partners, to two more brands—American Express and Anheuser-Busch will now be full members of the program.
Verizon announced the expansion as this year’s group of 29 fellows—that’s up from 20 last year—complete the program, with many moving on to full-time positions at Verizon, McCann, Rauxa, Weber Shandwick, McGarryBowen, Momentum, The Community, Zenith, MRY, R/GA, Accenture and Integrated Ad Science.
Verizon CMO Diego Scotti said he was “thrilled” to expand the program to American Express and AB InBev, which he called “tremendous believers in the powers of diversity and inclusion.”
“The conversation with people at the CMO level that are advocates of diversity and inclusion is now happening in a more fluid way,” Scotti said. “[American Express CMO Elizabeth Rutledge] and [Anheuser-Busch U.S. CMO Marcel Marcondes] have been very outspoken about the need to do this.”
According to Verizon, 90% of AdFellows participants are offered positions at one of its member companies.
Elissa McCool moved from Mississippi to New York in 2017 to be part of AdFellows’ inaugural class and worked with Verizon, McCann, Zenith and Weber Shandwick as part of the program. After completing AdFellows, she joined Weber Shandwick as a junior associate, worked across Oreo, Aldi and Hellmann’s and earned a promotion to associate this month.
Venezuelan-born Andrea Arreaza also moved to New York for the program, working at Verizon, Rauxa, Momentum and VM1. She went on to join Verizon’s in-house agency, 140, as a junior account executive on the brand retail team.
Tiesha Brayboy, from Hemingway, S.C., also worked at Verizon, Rauxa, Momentum, and VM1 during her fellowship before joining Rauxa as an account coordinator and building Rauxa’s first first diversity and inclusion employee resource group during her first year at the agency.
Next year’s group of AdFellows will have the opportunity to work with American Express and Anheuser-Busch as well as other AdFellow members.
“At Anheuser-Busch our greatest strength is our people, and we believe the greater the variety of perspectives and experiences that inform any given decision, the better the decision will be,” Marcondes told Adweek. “As a leading employer with over 18,000 passionate colleagues across the U.S., we believe that developing a diverse team is critical to our success and that drawing on a wide range of experiences and perspectives makes us a stronger company.”
Scotti said the desire to expand the AdFellows program is balanced with the need to maintain “the quality of experience” for AdFellows participants, and when such concerns are taken into consideration, new members can provide new opportunities.
“The more options that we can provide, the more tailored that we can be in providing an experience that is relevant to individual participants,” he said. “The whole idea is to increase the pipeline of great talent that we can all benefit from.”
He added, “For too long, we all have worked in silos on our own diversity and inclusion initiatives,” and said collaborative opportunities “what the future is all about.”