Career Experience intern, Aja Bhooma, discusses his time interning for Old Navy
Our Program Assistant Jonathan Takeda sat down with Aja Bhooma and chatted about his experience interning at Old Navy Headquarters. For the second year, Old Navy HQ welcomed a group of Enterprise interns as part of their ONWard HQ program. Gap Inc. is a long-standing employment partner that offers marketing internships as well as retail experience as part of the This Way ONward program that provides youth with both job training and work experience wrapped up in a neat bundle.
Can you describe what you did throughout your time at Old Navy Headquarters?
When the internship started, it was just onboarding, getting an idea of what we’d be doing. Then I met my mentor Michael through their mentor program, he was great. Throughout the entire internship, our mentors taught us about marketing, but we also had informational interviews with all the VPs of marketing, and with the CMO as well. By the end of my time working there, I gained over 40 Linkedin connections.
Our main project was to create a marketing campaign and then present it. Honestly, if you told me at the start of this internship that I would be doing all the work that I did, I wouldn’t have believed you, but they set me up for success so well that any time I needed help, there was always someone I could ask.
“Honestly, if you told me at the start of this internship that I would be doing all the work that I did, I wouldn’t have believed you.”
Describe the first couple of days of the internship. How did you feel? And how did the staff members help you transition throughout the internship?
I was excited to start my business journey, but I was nervous as well. Especially as a person of color, I think there’s some extra hesitancy about how big companies are going to treat you, but at Old Navy they were amazing. They had a diversity team that was mostly people of color, and they were super respectful. Even in terms of our youth and relative inexperience, everyone took extra steps to address our needs, to help us gain as much experience as possible.
What was your favorite activity you were a part of this summer and how did it impact you?
Over the course of the internship, we went on field trips touring Old Navy buildings, getting a look behind the scenes. That was so cool, you wouldn’t believe how much goes into a marketing ad. We saw the design side of things too, designers working on their tablets in real time, surrounded by monitors. It is so eye-opening to realize how different the world is compared to what you thought.
And honestly, I really liked the free lunch. Being able to see my coworkers and friends in person, eat lunch with them, and network in person was such a nice experience. I still remember the meal I ate, and all the friends that I made while eating that meal.
“Being able to see my coworkers and friends in person, eat lunch with them, and network in person was such a nice experience.”
What advice would you give a student hoping to try a marketing internship through Enterprise?
I would say take full advantage of this program and of everything it offers, even if you’re a little hesitant about business or about working. At the end of the internship, we had a final discussion with the VP’s, and they collectively agreed that this program would have helped their careers progress much faster, it would have brought them into the light of what they wanted to do and how they could get there. There’s a lot of freedom that comes with this internship, and a lot of education and knowledge as well.
What skills did you learn from this internship? Do you feel they’re applicable to other jobs?
My presentation skills reached a new level for sure, I’m able to go into so much more detail now. I learned communication, teamwork, and critical thinking. I also learned how to compromise with a team member but still push my goal forward. These are a lot of the main skills that are necessary for working in any professional environment. Whatever you learn from this job can be immediately applied to whatever you do after.
How long have you been with Enterprise for Youth, and what do you like most about it?
I’ve been with Enterprise for two years, and I think my favorite thing is how diverse the internships they offer are. You can choose what you like, or you can explore. I did a web development internship last year with CodeNation, and it honestly wasn’t for me, but being able to progress from a coding intern to a marketing intern within the span of a year… I don’t think that would actually happen anywhere else.
“Being able to progress from a coding intern to a marketing intern within the span of a year… I don’t think that would actually happen anywhere else.”
How has Enterprise impacted your future career goals, and how do you feel Enterprise welcomed you?
Enterprise is such an amazing community. Everyone here really is so welcoming, but it’s also like, “let me help you get where you need to go, I’m not going to let you just stand by, I’m not going to let you waste your time. I’m going to help you achieve your greatest potential.” Honestly, after this internship, I know what I want to do and how I can explore it. I have a solid foundation of connections and of people I can reach out to for help.
Is there anything else you’d like to say?
Whether you’re going through this internship, or a different one with Enterprise, you will find out so much about yourself, your passion, and what your reasons are for doing what you do. The same goes for our Job Readiness Training. They teach you how to prepare your resume, search and apply for jobs, they even helped with my cover letter and prepared me for professional interviews. It’s so beneficial and honestly, you get paid. You get paid to take this amazing opportunity, to gain this amazing hope. I would recommend this to all the people I know, and I feel like this is one of the best programs I’ve been a part of.
“You get paid to take this amazing opportunity, to gain this amazing hope.”
An additional thank you to all the people who helped Aja during his internship:
Aja’s mentors, Michael Small, Senior Editorial Manager at Old Navy, and Jan Graham, Senior Manager of Integrated Marketing at Old Navy.
Erika Everett, Vice President of Marketing at Old Navy
Jamie Gersch, Senior VP and Chief Marketing Officer at Old Navy
Juliette Velez, Director of Creative Studio Operations at Old Navy
Amy Burke, Graphic Designer at Old Navy
By Francis Orkin, Writing Intern at Enterprise for Youth 2022-2023
Interview by Jonothan Takeda, Enterprise for Youth Program Assistant Intern 2022
*Interview responses have been edited for length and clarity