Jeremy Carson is an Associate Creative Director, working in the advertising and design industries for over 15 years.
So you got an internship. Any idiot could tell you that you should work hard, do good work, be ambitious, blah blah blah. But there is so much more that agencies actually hope you do. And to be honest, most of you don’t do any of this.
There’s more to being a good intern than doing good work.
Agencies put a lot of effort into selecting interns. Sometimes just as much as they would when hiring a full-time employee. But once you start, it’s a big ol’ interview.
Here’s how to not be a sucky intern. You might get hired. You will make an impression.
What Gets You Hired
- Talk to People - 90% of what you’ll get out of an internship is meeting people. So, take any opportunity you get to talk to anybody there. I’ve reached out to our group of 30 interns, telling them I’ll make time to meet with any of them: 4 responded. Long story short, guess which four interns I’ll remember when we decide who to hire?
Interns: talk to anyone that will talk to you.
- Ask For Help - If you need help, ask for it. Reach out. But remember, there’s a difference between constantly asking for help and reaching out for direction on tough calls. Good agency people will see that you can handle something, but simply don’t have the knowledge or experience to understand what to do. So, reaching out for a helping hand at the right moments will be better for you than trying to do it on your own and failing epically.
- Stand Out - Look for any opportunity to make an impression upon the agency. Asking for volunteers? You’re up. See the big boss in the elevator? Say hello and make a self-deprecating joke. Team is going out for drinks? Cancel whatever plans you have and rally. The impression and bonding time will pay off more than most of the work you’ll do, because it’s directly attributed to you.
Why You’re Not Getting Hired
- School - If you still have another year of school left after the internship, make sure you know that you were hired with that in mind. You were never going to be offered a job right away. But, they DID bring you in, so it’ll be up to you to check in after you graduate.
- Time & Money - Agencies have budgets. When they do internships, usually those are paid for out of the agency’s pocket and not by the client budget. But, when hiring someone, they need to be applied to a client budget. Sometimes the timing is wrong, and there are no projects to budget another head for.
It's up to you to follow up after internships.
- You Suck - That’s a harsh truth not many people want to say, but sometimes you’re just not cutting it yet. There are ways to get better, though, so keep at it.
It’s About More Than The Work
You’re going to get a lot of people telling you to work hard, which is important. But the key to an internship is not just the work. In fact, I’d say that it’s not even half of it.
An internship is about experience. It lets you test the waters of the agency world. But take the opportunity to meet people. They’re more important than any project you’ll make in those few months.