Whether it’s part of your coursework or something you’re doing during your study break, an internship can be a wonderful opportunity to get the first-hand experience on the job. There’s no hiding behind a screen, dreaming about what it will be like when you’re eventually released into the world.
Rather, it’s a real-world experience in your chosen field. And for those studying advertising, an internship can mean working on real campaigns, an experience that can lead to full-time jobs in the very near future. It’s a cutthroat world out there and landing that dream internship may seem impossible. Not so. Especially if you utilize some tips and tricks.
The advertising world is fast-paced, varied, and covers everything from television, print materials, social media advertising, and even public relations. It takes varying skills including discipline, creativity, teamwork, and organization.
But it also takes a bit of empathy. How else will you understand how to appeal to specific audiences? Getting on-the-job experience while you’re still studying will definitely help you stand out from the crowd. And there are a number of other things you can do to seal the deal.
Right from the get-go, you need to be displaying your skills. If you’re a writer, make sure this is reflected in your cover letter. Or if you’re in graphic design, create a resume that actually uses your graphic skills, creating something professional that’s still eye-catching and visually appealing. Give the advertising agency an immediate insight into what you’re capable of.
Advertising is telling a story and relating that story to possible consumers. Do the same. In your cover letter, tell a story of why you’re the perfect match for the company, what you can contribute, and how you can make them better. But also include what they can provide for you.
Remember, you may be sending out a dozen emails, cover letters, and resumes. Personalize these. Show the companies that you want them specifically. Look at their website, the clients they work with, and their previous work examples. Address these and reflect the priorities of the company in your cover letter.
There’s more to life than what you learn in a classroom. Remember, you want to stand out from the rest, so if you’re already upskilling in your own time, you’re going to look a whole lot more desirable than someone who is simply following what the books say. If you hear about a specific skill or program in-class conversations or in internship applications, take the initiative and start to investigate it. Every new experience may set you apart, so be open to them.
Generally speaking, part of an advertising agency internship will be creative work, whether that’s writing or design. Even before you apply for internships, it’s a good idea to start building a portfolio so you have something to display. Even if it’s a collection of your class assignments, having them all together in one place shows you’re organized and makes it much easier for prospective agencies to see everything.
Chances are you have a connection in an agency somewhere. It may not be a direct connection, there may be someone in between, but there’ll be someone in your network who knows someone, who knows someone. Use this. Tell people in your network that you’re looking for an internship and do they know of anyone who may be able to help you. You never know who can help.
Just because they’re not advertising a position, doesn’t mean companies will say no to an internship. Perhaps they don’t have time to build an employment ad or perhaps it had never crossed their minds to have someone come in. Reaching out to individual companies never hurts. The worst they can say is no. In the best-case scenario, you’ve shown them that you’re prepared to take the initiative and work for what you want.
You submitted an application and you’ve been called in for an interview. Congratulations. Be prepared. You don’t want to sound robotic by having pre-prepared answers, but you don’t want to completely speak off the cuff either. It’s about finding the middle ground. Anticipating the kind of questions you’ll be asked and thinking about possible answers.
Proofreading your resume, asking questions, being honest. These all seem like common sense, but you’d be surprised how many basic actions go by the wayside. Little things make a huge difference. Even following up with personal thank yous following interviews can show you care enough for the role to be seriously considered.
It’s easy to be prepared for the ‘strengths and weaknesses’ questions, and the ‘extracurricular activities’ queries, but what about the nitty-gritty questions. The ones where you’re asked why you want to work for that particular company, and why you’re the right fit for the job. These are individualized answers depending on the agency you’re applying with so remember to really consider these before you even walk through the door for the interview.
Skills matter, but you need to show potential advertising agencies who you are and why you deserve an internship. Everything should showcase your potential, from the cover letter right through to the interview follow-up. Be honest, authentic, and unique. Keep it professional but real. And remember, you’ll never fail by giving it a go.