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Thursday, June 23, 2005

Advice for Interns, after four weeks of interning:

There are a variety of things that you can get out of being an intern for the summer. Ranking them from most important to least:

  • Additional knowledge about what you're looking for in a career
  • Contacts who can help you find a job when you're looking for one.
  • Understanding of the building blocks of the industry you're in.
  • Specific skills that will be useful in your career.
  • An ability to collate, copy, and/or do other office related tasks.
There are a few key elements to an internship. You get a chance to learn a great deal about how the real world of work actually happens; as opposed to what you've been learning in class. You can see the difference between working at an ad agency, and working at a client.

Find projects in areas that really interest you. In many cases, there's an opportunity to really be involved in something that interests you. If you've always been fascinated by the intricacies of direct mail, now's a good time to learn more about it.

Two key ways to do this. First, find a project that's measureable that you can play a role in. It's going to be something you'll be able to point to, both personally and on a resume, and you'll enjoy the process. In our world, it could be finding a new way to compile competitive news stories.

You can use RSS, sites like http://del.icio.us/, Google News, etc, to make it easy to find competitive info. You'd have something to point to, and be on the cutting edge of marketing research.

Secondly, is the informational interview. We try to make sure that at some point during the summer, you get to sit down with someone in each of the functional areas, and spend some time talking about what that area is, how it works, and how it can play into a career in the field. If you actively seek that out, it will greatly enhance the summer. You can even take that one step further. We have lots of world class vendors. If you're curious about life in an ad agency, or a TV production shop, we can ask them to do the same sort of informational chat. Most people are happy to do it, especially since we tend to pay them money on a regular basis, so they like to accomodate our requests.

Finally, you'll make contacts while working in the office. If you really want to make life a bit easier, when you eventually start a job search, stay in touch. Not non-stop, but if you drop an email every couple of months, letting us know how things are going, and where you think you might want to go. We know about jobs that are going to be opening up, and talk to many more people, and can point you in the right direction.
Quoting Harvey Mackay, it's better to dig your well before you're thirsty.


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