Internships at Stratford, Ont.-based Luxe Shield fit and expand on marketing, digital media skill sets
Before graduating at from the University of Guelph-Humber in April, 2020, Riyad Khan—a tech-savvy marketing major from the Etobicoke neighbourhood in west Toronto—needed to complete an internship. Hell-bent on finding a placement that would fit his skillset, Khan applied to a range of businesses on the university’s job portal website. After three weeks of conducting interviews with employers, a small-business owner from Stratford, Ont. made Khan an interesting offer he couldn’t refuse.
“I accepted a position as a digital marketing intern with Luxe Shield using the job portal from school,” Khan said. “I was told that I’d have lots of creative freedom and a chance to learn business from an entrepreneur, which is why I decided to take the offer.”
Luxe Shield is an automotive company that specializes in selling one-of-a-kind premium license plate covers to businesses and automotive enthusiasts. Bryan Steinberg, Luxe Shield’s owner and CEO, hires student interns like Khan to give them hands-on marketing knowledge and leadership experience, thus increasing their chances of finding employment after graduating.
Khan, who worked both in-person and remotely at Luxe Shield during the COVID-19 pandemic, helped Steinberg with various tasks such as creating advertising materials and cold-calling customers. When his placement was finished, Khan said, the technical training from Luxe Shield helped him gain valuable knowledge about different business-to-business transactions.
“My time with Luxe Shield was special,” Khan said. “Not only did I get to experience travelling to cool events like the Car Show in Toronto or to trucking companies in Kitchener, I really got to witness the business side of marketing and got to see how an entrepreneur works.”
Besides being able to experience working at different car shows and marketing to different car dealerships, Khan said the most important trait he learned from his placement was the ability to move out of his ‘comfort zone’, which pushed him to become more of a ‘vocal’ leader.
“I got to communicate, work and be part of a talented team of people,” Khan added.
“The greatest thing I’ve taken away was the ability for me to be able to speak and be heard by my peers and most importantly the CEO, which you don’t get at other (internship) places. In other words, you truly feel like you’re part of something.”
After graduating, Khan immediately entered the workforce as a digital marketing coordinator at Communitech, a “community of tech” digital innovation hub with operations in both Kitchener and Waterloo, Ont. Despite only working at Luxe Shield for four months, Khan credits the variety of skills learned with the company as one of the reasons he received the Communitech offer right away.
“You can only learn so much in the classroom but working with an entrepreneur and handling these kinds of responsibilities, really helps you strengthen your skills when applying to different positions,” said Khan.
Amrinder Tatla, a Guelph-Humber marketing graduate who also worked at Luxe Shield as a marketing intern, said his time working with an entrepreneur furthermore helped him to grow out of his quiet, introverted shell.
“On top of the technical skills I learned, I got much more confident with my words and talking to people—which was something I always struggled with,” Tatla said. “I’m much more open now and it’s helped me out in a lot of different ways.”
The confidence Tatla gained during his Luxe Shield internship enabled him to create an amateur motorcycle enthusiast group on social media following graduation in 2019.
Since Steinberg started the mentorship program with Guelph-Humber in 2017, all interns brought diverse backgrounds and skills to Luxe Shield. In fact, it turns out that being a car enthusiast has no effect on their ability to land this internship or gain valuable work experience.
“I admittingly don’t know too much about cars, but I was able to get along with the program fairly quickly,” said fourth-year media studies student and former digital media intern, Sydney Kotzer.
Kotzer, who in 2020 was Luxe Shield’s first digital media intern, said that in addition to learning more about a field with which she was unfamiliar with, she was content to lend her digital media experience to a business that had in the past been the exclusive domain of the business program.
“It was really exciting to become the first media student” interning at the company, Kotzer said. “It really shows that Bryan is expanding and keeping up with the times.”
Now in his fifth consecutive year of recruiting interns, Steinberg–who created Luxe Shield in 2016 as a way to continue his father’s vision of being Canada’s biggest license plate cover distributor–has added four new interns in 2021. He plans to continue working with talented students who aspire to learn business traits and valuable workplace skills.
“I invite those who want an opportunity to work directly with a founder of a company in a positive, diverse work environment where you have a chance to try different and unique things,” Steinberg said. “I would love to continue working with students that are ambitious and can bring good vibes and energy to a fun, professional working environment.”