By Grace Austin

Slowly but surely, diversity in advertising is improving, says Nancy Hill, president-CEO of the American Association of Advertising Agencies (4A’s). This is due in large part to the mentoring and recruitment work of her organization and others like it. The 4A’s Multicultural Advertising Intern Program (MAIP) is one of the oldest of its kind in the country.

Since 1973, the MAIP has helped jumpstart the careers of more than 2,000 African American, Asian American, Latinos, Native American, multiracial, and multiethnic aspiring advertising professionals.

Each year, more than a hundred undergraduate and graduate students are selected for a ten-week paid summer internship at a 4A’s member advertising agency, which vary in size and are located throughout the country.

Interns are matched up to agencies and given tasks that correspond with their specializations. Students gain practical work experience, establish key industry contacts, and perhaps most importantly, become better prepared to land a full-time job in advertising when they graduate. At the same time, the program gives advertising agencies a cost-effective way to identify and recruit talented multicultural students.

“Working in Chicago with DraftFcb this summer was my first time ever in the ad industry and was easily my favorite internship of the three I’ve had. This experience alone was great, but the MAIP program took everything to a new level. Moving forward, I’m looking to further delve into the ad industry. As a business administration student [at Florida A&M] with a minor in sociology, it was great to be able to gain exposure in a field so collaborative, creative, and impactful and I think I’ve found a home in the ad world,” said 2012 MAIP Intern of the Year Troy Harris.

Upon completion of the program, interns become members of the MAIP Alumni Association, a close-knit family of MAIP graduates that fosters the development of future MAIP interns as well as the professional development of the program’s alumni.

Past alumni include Marc Strachan, VP of Multicultural Marketing, North America at Diageo, Bonita Stewart, managing director of U.S. Sales at Google, David Hernandez, managing director and executive creative director at OgilvyOne Chicago, and Van Graves, executive vice president and executive creative director at McCann.