Intern has never been considered a glamorous position. In fact, for students about to enter the corporate world, the word intern can fill them with dread. It conjures up images of a skinny, scared college kid scurrying around a busy office to make copies or get someone’s coffee order. Not only that, but they also imagine how they’ll be getting only a small amount of sleep and an even smaller amount of money. While this all sounds terrible, students feel like it’s all part of the process of entering the working world, a way of paying their dues. Now while I can’t guarantee you won’t being doing menial tasks at your internship, I think people tend to only focus on the negatives. An internship, while challenging, should offer the intern real work experience that is not only helpful, but fun and engaging as well.
Find an internship where you can get your hands on something other than the copies and coffee. For advertising interns especially, working on actual campaigns is an important part of the learning process. Sure, you’re not going to be making the big pitch to the client, but writing a bit of copy for a radio spot or assisting with the design of a poster is a good place to get started. Being able to at least pitch ideas and add your input is vital. Not only is it good practice for your writing and designing skills, but it also allows your work to be critiqued by professionals who know the ins and outs of creating content that connects with both the clients and the consumers.
Don’t stretch yourself. As an intern, there’s a temptation to take on as many tasks as possible so that you can prove yourself to those working above you. So you say you’ll write copy for this, proofread that, and tag those blogs posts. And while your heart may be in the right place in this instance, your head isn’t. It’s important to take one or two tasks at a time and get them done as well as you possibly can. That doesn’t mean you should slack off, it just means you should only take on what you think you can handle. Remember, there’s no prize for taking on the jobs, but there is for completing them.
Open yourself up to every part of the agency. Sure, you may have thought that you were always going to be a graphic designer who put together the ads, and that may still be the case. But don’t let that stop you from trying your hand at something else when applying for the internship. So, during the interview process, you can say you’re good at Photoshop and iMovie, but also let them know you’re willing to try whatever tasks they might have.
Finally, always ask for help if you need it. In a work environment, it’s tempting to think that it’s every man for himself. It can be intimidating when faced with a task you don’t fully understand to ask someone for guidance. You don’t want to seem stupid, but you don’t want to act like you don’t know what you’re doing either. Even if they do get a bit annoyed it’s better to have that than to have them be really mad about you doing the entire task wrong, and, in the end it saves you both a headache.