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My Intern Rocks: Marie Miller-Rodriguez, Colling Media

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Symba is proud to announce the launch of our #MyInternRocks series! For our inaugural post, we are excited to feature Marie Miller-Rodriguez. Marie is the Creative Manager, Paid Social Media Optimizer, and Intern Manager at Colling Media, a marketing and advertising agency in Scottsdale, Arizona. We asked Marie a few questions about her experiences as an intern manager. Read on to see what she has to say about why she loves her interns.
So tell us a little bit about your background and how you became an intern manager.

I am an enthusiastic and charismatic marketing & advertising professional. I am the Creative Manager, Paid Social Media Optimizer, and Intern Manager at Colling Media, a national advertising agency based in Scottsdale. With a background in photography, digital, mass and social media, public relations, mass communication, and graphic design, I use collaborative and independent creative processes and empathetic leadership for the benefit of our clients and our business.

In the Spring of 2018, I launched the Colling Media Internship Program. Colling Media hosts interns from Phoenix-area universities and colleges. I have a passion for education with a diverse educational background at the Community College of Allegheny County, the University of Pittsburgh, Scottsdale Community College, and Arizona State University. I hope to one day teach at a local community college.

How many interns you are managing?

One intern is currently in a program and we have another intern on the way. One intern has already successfully completed their intern cycle.


Maureen is a 2018 summer intern in web design and programming. She joins us from ASU and is working directly with our Head Developer.

What are your favorite things about managing interns?

I love seeing the potential in young people. In my most recent pursuit for a bachelor’s degree, I recognized a deficit in the real-world application of many theories taught in the classroom. I also realized a gap in the hands-on experience of many students applying for jobs in the advertising and marketing industry. At Colling Media, we hope to not only expand our culture but understand the current educational landscape while tapping into young talent entering into the Phoenix advertising industry.

“The goal of the Colling Media Internship Program is to be an extension of the college classroom. It’s a unique opportunity helping students apply classroom education in a professional work environment and assisting students in gaining significant work experience related to his or her career choice. Colling Media values opportunities to meet new advertising and marketing talent and build relationships with Phoenix-area universities and college students while expanding our understanding of the modern college experience. An internship with Colling Media is more than a part-time job or volunteer position, and it’s a supervised work experience increasing a student’s understanding of advertising agency life through relevant, impactful projects.”

What do you love most about your current intern(s)?

I am so proud of the progress of the students who have completed or are working on finishing our internship program. It’s so rewarding to watch them take theories learned in class and apply them to real-world situations. Additionally, I love the ‘aha!’ moments where they independently learn a problem-solving skill then immediately apply it to the next project or task they are working on. Working in a digital-rich environment, our interns often get to see many different dimensions of some everyday tools they didn’t know existed – for example, the many layers of Google and Facebook and the business side of their applications.

How do you ensure your interns’ professional development and success?

We use a project management system. All task requests are sent to me, and I upload them to this project management system. This way I can see what tasks they are currently working on, apply a realistic yet urgent deadline and am available to help them or direct them where to get help in the event they become “stuck.”

Our internship program is built around the idea of student-first education where anything and everything that is asked or presented to the student/intern must have immediate and continuous positive impact on their skill set. We also offer to bring them in on learning sessions for concepts and software that may not immediately impact them but will provide them with great insight to keep in their back pockets for the future.

Why do you think internships are important?

As the digital landscape is continually changing, businesses need to make valuable connections with new talent and learn how to keep up with these changes. As professionals, it is our responsibility to help form the pipeline for up-and-coming talent and nurture them as valuable additions to our industry. I was fortunate to have several great mentors during my early career. I want to ensure that I pay it forward.

What resources are essential for a successful internship program?

Primarily, it is essential for a business to recognize their internship program to be a program of teaching and learning. If a company is looking for free or cheap labor and isn’t willing to take time to offer value in their program, it’s a waste of time for everyone involved.

Processes are fundamental to successful internship programs–hiring processes, task assignment processes, communication processes, and networking processes. These students can offer valuable insight and information into their chosen field of study. It would behoove a company to listen with intent to what these students are saying.

Another valuable resource for a successful internship program is research. Specifically Google. I have spent some time Googling specific programs with which I’d like to have a relationship with the Director or Dean. I want to be at the top of the list when a student with huge potential starts looking for an internship program with which to connect. Google is critical to our interns here. There is a wealth of knowledge that is shared on the internet. Understanding how to mine for that data and information is critical to survival.

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