Onward! An intern “exit” interview with Cameron Neimand.

Neimand Collaborative periodically brings interns onboard to learn about the social impact marketing business up close. This spring, Cameron Neimand, nephew of Rich and a recent graduate of the University of Maryland, joined the team and put the knowledge gained from his journalism major to work. As his internship wound down, he caught up with Alyssa Murphy, communications manager, to talk about his experience pivoting from journalism to communications and working in jobs focused on making practical differences in society.


Alyssa Murphy (AM): What brought you to Neimand Collaborative?

Cameron Neimand (CN): I’m a journalism major in school, and communications is one of the fields that a journalism degree lends itself to. A lot of work at Neimand Collaborative is kind of like journalism—doing the research, finding the story, putting it all together in an understandable narrative. A job in social impact marketing feels like a way that I could take my training in journalism and help people.

AM: What did this experience mean to you coming from your educational background?

CN: It confirmed that what I’ve been doing the last four years is applicable to the real world. A lot of what you do in journalism school is reading, fact-checking, writing—these things can apply to work outside of a newspaper. I can take this degree to a place like Neimand Collaborative and tell stories. That translation of academics to the working world was cool to see.

AM: What other internships did you have before this?

CN: I’ve had all writing-based internships. My first was at a home design magazine. I came into journalism wanting to write about sports and music, but now I can tell people where to get a very nice discount sectional for their apartment. Then I had a very cool one at a sports media company. I was an editorial intern, pitching and writing stories on everything from sports lyrics in rap albums to basketball analysis. I’ve also worked at college radio back at school: I’ve been a radio host, and I’ve produced podcasts. In technical terms, I’ve been on-air talent, but I think the success depends on how many people other than my parents were listening!

AM: What were you actually doing when you were interning for a home design magazine?

CN: A lot of proofreading, a lot of writing, and, to be honest, a lot of promotional activities—like here’s a product that’s coming out, we have the press kit for it, and turn it into something like “coming this fall—this excellent grill!” It was a lot of tedious work, and a lot of the stuff that you need to do day to day in an office to get things done.

AM: What skills from journalism have you used at Neimand Collaborative?

CN: A lot of what I’m doing is asking questions and looking for the information that I think people would be interested in. I look for an angle that brings interest. Like the Waldorf school write-up I helped draft. I’m building a story around what we know we want to focus on—an educational model that’s often in the private sector coming into the public sector—and thinking about what the whole story is: bringing high-quality education to those who can’t afford it. The hardest part is writing the first sentence. I’ve learned how to weave story ideas together to create one narrative, teasing out the common threads and looking for that unique angle.

AM: What real-world lesson did you learn at Neimand Collaborative that you’ll take with you?

CN: A lot of things. I’d never been in a communications-based office before. Editorial internships tend to be pretty solitary. At Neimand Collaborative, everyone is involved in everything going on. Also, the proofreading: the importance of proofing not once, but twice, and having multiple eyes on something. I’ve really liked the proofing exercises because it shows how easy it is to miss something. Proofreading is a necessary skill in any work environment. And time management. Neimand Collaborative does a really good job of having a crew that is always in touch with each other. I also learned how to ask people for things, how to check in, which sounds really basic but is crucial for a successful work environment.

AM: What were the big differences between this environment and previous internships?

CN: This was much more structured. In the journalism environment, you come into work and you think, “who knows what I’ll be doing today.” This job is a lot more structured, in a good way. It makes sense because we’re providing structure to clients through things like brand management. And here everyone is working together in order to succeed. It’s a communications job, it’s a social impact marketing job, and the key to succeeding is having good communication in the office.

AM: Anything else broadly speaking that you took away from this?

CN: When you’re a journalism major in a time when every headline is about layoffs, just knowing that my journalism degree has value in the workplace—in social impact marketing or communications—has been reassuring. It’s really cool to know that there are marketing companies and communications firms that aren’t all about making money but making an impact. Working at Neimand Collaborative isn’t like you end up going home at the end of the day feeling like you aren’t sure you made a difference. You are making a difference. You’re helping people craft their message, putting their voice into writing. A two-word change could make a million-dollar difference. It’s marketing but with a purpose. It’s marketing to change the world. At Neimand Collaborative, people really care, and it shows in the work that they do.

AM: So what’s next?

CN: What’s next for me is figuring out what to do in the first period of uncertainty I’ve had in my life in 18 years. I’m graduating and not sure what I’ll do next. Maybe I’ll teach. I’m moving home to Los Angeles and taking on the incredible and advantageous opportunity of living with my parents for a bit. I’m figuring out the career path I want to pursue. My next step is figuring out what I want to do in this world. Whether it be writing, comedy, working in a Starbucks, working wherever, I want to find what I want to do in life and pursue it to the fullest.