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How One Covalent Fellow Found His Passion in Nonprofit Advertising

“Being in nonprofits and the social good sphere is something I see myself doing for a career,” Villegas said. “If I can help steer these conversations into a positive light, that speaks a lot to me.”
Diego Villegas Headshot
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For many students entering the workforce, finding that first job is not easy, let alone, one they find fulfilling. They’re often dealing with mounting student debt, the societal pressures to start working as soon as possible and the anxiety that comes with applying for jobs. When a position presents itself, it’s hard not to say “yes.” 

At Covalent, our hope is that we can alleviate some of the pressures that students feel when applying for jobs and help them find careers they’re passionate about.

Diego Villegas has known for a long time that he wanted a career that helped others. A Chicagoan from the northwest side, he’s always had a passion for supporting his community. When he heard about the Covalent fellowship in the summer of 2020, it sounded like the perfect opportunity to advance his professional career while helping businesses in need. Eighteen months later, he’s accepted a full-time position at the Ad Council to work on nonprofit campaigns throughout the country. Here’s how he got there.

Like many students, Villegas entered the spring of 2020 without an internship lined up. The pandemic was raging, companies were rescinding offers for summer positions and students lacked direction on what to do next. Villegas had just transferred into the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign’s College of Advertising and had no marketing experience.

“At the time, with Covid impacting everything, I was scared about falling behind in classes and losing out on internships, networking and more,” Villegas said. “Everything went dark that semester.”

He applied to Covalent for the summer 2020 fellowship and was accepted. It was Villegas’s first time working directly with a client. He was paired with a small health clinic in Chicago’s Southwest Side neighborhood, Pilsen. 

“I had to put myself in the shoes of the community in the area who might need the services of the clinic and ask myself, ‘how do I connect with them?’” Villegas said. 

Villegas went above and beyond his expectations in the program. He supported the clinic with building its website, drafting email newsletters and social media calendars, and media planning. 

The experience at Covalent helped him build the confidence to apply for another internship with the Multicultural Advertising Intern Program (MAIP). Villegas’s mentor at Covalent wrote him one of his letters of recommendation and he was accepted. Following a great experience with MAIP and placement with the Ad Council, he was offered a full-time position.

Now, Villegas is finishing up a few classes his senior year and working full-time for the Ad Council. He’s working on campaigns including Buzzed Driving Prevention, Adoption from Foster Care and Wildfire Prevention. 

“Being in nonprofits and the social good sphere is something I see myself doing for a career,” Villegas said. “If I can help steer these conversations into a positive light, that speaks a lot to me.”

Interested in supporting the next generation of social impact leaders? Consider making a donation to Covalent today.

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