DEC vs. an Internship

Recently, I’ve heard a lot of students contemplating whether to do DEC, or an internship to fulfill necessary credits. Personally, I did an internship, and I know a lot of others who went the same road as I did. I was curious though, what does DEC have to offer? To find out I interviewed Roger John Cassi, 23, who is an advertising student in both the copywriting and art direction track.


DW: “What exactly is DEC, and how can students become a part of it?”

RJ: “DEC (Diamond Edge Communications) is a student run ad agency, one of only a handful in the nation. We work with real clients like The United States Department of State and Alzheimer’s Association. As DEC members you get hands on experience working with clients, developing a strategy for the problem or goal they present to you, executing your plan, and seeing your work used in the real world.  If you want to be a part of the DEC experience you must get special approval from Dr. Marra and fill out some paper work. Once you get approved by him, it’s a very unique experience.”

DW: “Is it somewhat similar to an internship, or a different experience?”

RJ: “Internships definitely vary, but based on my knowledge they usually do not involve an extreme amount of hands on work nor does it always feel relevant to what you want to do in the advertising industry. There can be a lot of “Gofer” work. Just doing odd jobs on the bottom of the totem poll.  DEC creates an environment where your team is its own totem poll. The responsibility, relevance, and work is completely in the students hands, with guidance from Dr. Marra and your client.  If you’re an account manager, you manage accounts. If you’re a copywriter, you write copy. In some cases you even get a chance to explore other aspects of the advertising industry.  It’s an invaluable experience. In short, DEC gives you the chance to walk in the shoes of the people of the advertising world, instead of spectating at internships.”

DW: “What type of projects have you worked on so far in DEC?”

RJ: “I have worked on The United States Department of State, TADA (Temple Advertising Department Awards), the account that promotes DEC to advertising student, and The Advertising Department.  I also helped out whenever I could on any other account.  My positions we copy writer, art director and creative director.  My projects ranged from writing copy for the SCT website to creating an entire award ceremony from scratch fro TADA.”

DW: “Is it mostly group work, individual work, or both?”

RJ: “In the first week of DEC, the DEC veterans along with Dr. Marra get together and split the members up into teams. There will be one team for each account, which include and account manager, creative director, copywriter, and art director.  Some groups have more people based on the workload.  There are also research teams and production teams.  If you’re really ambitious there is also an office manager position.  This person makes sure all working of the agency run smoothly.”

DW: “Have you gained any useful skills that you think will help you when applying for jobs?”

RJ: “I have definitely acquired a lot of useful skills in my two semesters as a DEC member.  Everyone has group projects, but we all know it doesn’t always feel like a well-oiled machine.  DEC teaches you to interact, communicate, and work towards a common goal with a group of people.  Also you get a taste of real deadlines.  This helped me manage my time better and figure out the workflow of real accounts.  The main skill I took away was the ability to collaborate and critic others work to make it better and better.  DEC really focuses on working as a team. The intrigue that comes along with having “DEC” on you résumé doesn’t hurt either.  Potential employers really like to know what a student run agency is all about.”

DW: “Have you made any helpful contacts?”

RJ: “Absolutely. Not only do you become a member of the DEC alumni, who are always will to help each other out, but you make a lot of great relationships with your clients. These people usually can open some doors for you or know someone that can.”

DW: “Do you think participating in DEC is a valuable experience for students?”

RJ: “DEC is invaluable.  You learn a lot, work with real clients, produce real work, and like they say gain real experience.”

One comment

  1. I also participated in DEC and I really appreciate how much hands-on work there was to be done. Sometimes DEC got stressful but as I look back I see how much experience I gained, such as how to work with a team and a client on a real campaign. I know I’ve heard a lot of my peers say they sat around at their internships and that they didn’t really come away with much. But when you go with DEC that doesn’t happen.

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