General Questions

Covalent leverages a network of talented fellows and a network of experienced business professionals to provide digital marketing support to small businesses.

Fellows spend the first ten days of their fellowship in a rigorous training program learning and practicing digital marketing skills while hearing from industry experts and networking with each other. Following the training, they are matched with a mentor and small business to spend eight weeks learning the businesses’ digital marketing pain points and applying their knowledge from training to grow the company’s digital marketing capabilities. We specialize in brand strategy, social media strategy and implementation, email marketing, SEO and website building.

Covalent works with Illinois small businesses and majority Illinois students but students outside of Illinois are welcome to apply. Our volunteer network is made up of professionals from around the country looking to make a direct impact through mentorship.

Covalent works with professionals passionate about social innovation who recognize the immediate economic needs in their local communities. We’re preparing all stakeholders for the digital-first world. This includes:

  • Businesses who need to think digital-first and require digital marketing support.
  • Fellows who are hungry to learn by doing, interested in pursuing a job in digital marketing and interested in working with a small business. Fellows are undergraduate students or recently graduated.
  • Mentors who are eager to provide professional guidance and project oversight to help fellows succeed in their engagements with small businesses.
  • Corporate sponsors who see a direct way to re-invest in local communities and the next generation of business leaders

Without a nonprofit workforce initiative like Covalent, small businesses will struggle to adapt to the digital-first era and students won’t have the necessary professional experiences to prepare them for the real world. This will have severe consequences on local economies.

Covalent helps businesses and students take back control of their futures by connecting and empowering them to cultivate forward-thinking solutions for small businesses in the new normal.

Yes, we’re entirely virtual! We’ll revisit in-person event and other opportunities when the world opens back up.

Covalent will spend April and early May reviewing applications. We’ll be announcing who has been accepted and begin pairing fellows, mentors and businesses in May.

The program will kick off on June 7th and fellows will spend ten days in our training program. Introductions between fellows, their mentors and the businesses will be made the week of June 14 with projects officially kicking off the week of June 21st. They will conclude the week of August 9th (eight weeks later).

If you aren’t interested in applying to become a fellow, mentor or small business, there are numerous ways you can support our mission:

  • Donate to our organization
  • Consider becoming a corporate sponsor
  • Reach out to speak to present to our cohort and mentors

If there are other ways you would like to help us, don’t hesititate to reach out at community@thisiscovalent.org.

Yes! We have our 501(c)(3) designation which makes donations to our organization tax-deductible.

Fellow Questions

To be a fellow, you must be a junior, senior or recent graduate who has an interest in developing their professional skills through a client-facing project with oversight from an experienced professional. While it is not required to major in marketing, journalism, communications, graphic design or advertising, it is a desirable quality. You must be prepared to work at least 15 hours per week, be responsive to client communication and be more than willing to learn by doing.

While there is no guarantee Covalent will help you get a job, 15% of our fellows have been hired by their small business, through their mentor’s company or thanks to Covalent’s staff. We’ll be actively working to create opportunities for fellows and corporate sponsors to meet one another and will host networking events throughout the fellowship.

As a fellow, we expect you to commit roughly 10-20 hours a week for ten weeks. The range depends on the client’s needs and your passion to turn a “good” deliverable into an “amazing” deliverable. With the entire program being virtual, students have more flexibility with how they distribute their workload.  However, the workload and communication expectations will vary across businesses based on their different needs. Covalent also has mandatory meetings, check-ins with mentors and presentations at set times. We expect high-quality engagement and professionalism from the fellows. Additionally, the ten-day training program is more time-intensive and that occurs from June 7th-June 17th.

Fellows will be given a base stipend of $700 that will come from small businesses sponsoring projects. We hope to raise additional money for fellows over the course of the summer through individual donations and corporate partners.

Yes, you can. Although, Covalent would not suggest you do this fellowship on top of another full-time position. There are mandatory events, trainings and meetings that if you miss will put you behind. There are opportunities to catch up but continued absence from important events might result in termination from the program.

Small Business Questions

For a business to apply, they must be less than 50 employees. We traditionally have supported small businesses in Illinois, but encourage you to apply even if you’re outside the state. We accept both for-profit and nonprofit businesses. Businesses should be looking for support in website building, SEO, social media strategy and implementation, email marketing and brand strategy.

In the application, you’ll be asked to rate which projects you’d like support on. Businesses will then be paired with one or two fellows and accompanying mentors.

Students will spend ten days in our robust training program before being prompted to reach out to you. In the first meeting, they will learn your business’ digital marketing pain points and ask questions. They will then submit a project brief and proposal which you will approve before they get to work.

Once the proposal is agreed upon by both parties, students will create, optimize or get caught up to speed on a mandatory brand strategy engagement. This is to ensure the business and the student agree upon messaging, identity and the mission of the business. 

Following this, they’ll begin work on their projects listed above. Covalent has weekly deliverables and templates to ensure high quality and consistent projects. Fellows will spend the last week offboarding the business and giving a final presentation.

Businesses are expected to be engaged and communicative with their fellows throughout the engagement. This includes weekly meetings and timely feedback. Businesses should expect projects to not deviate outside of the agreed upon project proposal. They are also required to respond to occasional surveys so we can determine your satisfaction with the engagement.

In order to best serve our small businesses and our fellows, Covalent will request a $900 project fee from participating small businesses.

Mentor Questions

Covalent asks that our mentors are comfortable dedicating at least two hours a week to assist their fellow students with their small business projects and professional development. We are looking for mentors with varying levels of professional experience and industries. Our mentors come from across the country. While working in marketing, communications and advertising is not required, it is a bonus.

Based on the applications, we do our best to pair fellows and mentors based on career interests. Mentors may work with the same fellow through several cohorts if it’s a great match. We’ve even seen mentors help their fellow get hired at their company.

Mentors will have the opportunity to coach and develop their mentee over the course of nine weeks. They’ll assist them with sharpening their project proposals, communication and presentation skills, and project deliverables. Mentors will shape the next generation of talent as students give back to local businesses.

The program also allows mentors to tap into a larger network of professionals in related fields from all around the country. Additionally, there are networking events and a Lunch and Learn series where mentors will be able to learn about new fields and industries.