Hi everyone, my name is Vi La and I’m a Strategy intern at Geometry Global, an Ogilvy agency with expertise in retail. Having had internships at Digitas Health, Tierney, and now Geometry Global, I have read and listened to (and even written myself) a lot of advice for students as they step into the real world. As I reflect on my journey at Geometry, I would love to share with you 3 tips to become the “killer” intern that most likely no one ever tells you.
Do bug people.
If you are interning at an agency, you know that things come up all the time. It’s not rare that a client wants you to deliver a project worth six figures in two days. And when that happens, people won’t even have time to remember that they have an intern that is readily available to jump in, let alone come over to your desk and ask for help. That’s being said, it’s up to you to let them know that you’re there.
When your managers tell you that they don’t have anything for you at the moment, don’t take it at face value. The tip is to get them to talk about it. Ask them how it’s going, what’s the part that takes up most of their time, even what they wish they didn’t have to do. The more you talk about it, the easier it is for you to offer a helping hand, and for them to realize that they can actually use your help. If they are working on a pitch deck, ask if you can help filling gaps here and there. If they are cracking a brief, ask if they want to talk about it and bounce ideas off each other. And if it has been a slow day for your manager (which isn’t likely), make an effort to bug other people on the team.
As a Strategy intern, 85% of what I have done so far are strategy projects. However, when my manager had to travel for a few days, I helped out the Research team with a new business project and the Analytics team with some spreadsheets. Not only has it helped me gain exposure to different capabilities within our agency, it also allows me to acquire new skills.
Now, before you close this tab and think that I’m a scammer because you have probably heard other people raving about the importance of networking during your internship (me myself included), hang tight. What I mean by “don’t network” is that you should not network just for the sake of networking. Don’t network just because you want to build bridges. Don’t network just because you want to get a job. Don’t network just because you want them to do something for you.
Instead, talk to people in the office because you genuinely want to learn more about what they are doing. Talk to them about their interests. Learn what they are passionate about. At the end of the day, people make hiring decisions based on who is the best fit for their team, not who is the best candidate, so don’t worry about having to “look smart” all the time. The key is to be genuine. Don’t come off as wanting something out of that relationship. Genuineness goes a long way.
It’s more than just work.
Sure, as in intern, you are mostly evaluated based on your work. However, what no one tells you as an intern, is that you are actually evaluated based on so much more. Beyond the quality of your work, your managers will also look at how you get there, including, do you ask good questions? Do you take time to do research before asking for help? Do you approach it with enthusiasm and a willingness to learn?
More importantly, this goes even beyond work. Your team members want to know who you are as a person – what your interests are outside of advertising, what you do during the weekend, whether you are a cat person or a dog person, whether you like Game of Thrones or not. That’s being said, in order to really be a part of the team, you need to go that extra mile to not only deliver great projects but also be a great person to hang out with. Start by making sure that you are there for whatever it is that’s happening – whether it is a costume party, a pool party or a birthday party. Even if nothing comes up, you can always ask to join them for lunch to get to know them better!
Find a mentor.
Now, this is perhaps something you have heard over and over again from approximately a million people before reading this blog post, and I am simply here to tell you that they are right. One of the greatest things about being a junior in this industry is that you can seek mentorship from almost anyone.
If you have yet to find someone for yourself, start with your professors. What I have always felt thankful for during my years at Temple was the mentorship that I received from my Advertising professors. They truly care about us students and they are always there to nudge us in the right direction whenever we need help!
If you are already out there doing internships, start building relationships with your direct manager. As someone who manages your directly, he or she will be able to provide you with feedback and advice based on your performance. You can also seek mentorship from a junior talent in your team, or even someone in another department! It’s up to you to decide who you want to learn from and what you want to learn from them.
For me, my biggest mentor is my manager at my previous internship at Digitas Health. Even after the internship ended, he is still there for me every step along the way – when I’m competing for the National Student Advertising Competition, when I’m applying for a summer internship, when I’m moving to a new city for the internship. Wherever I go and whatever I do, he’s always there to give me guidance and support, and I wouldn’t be where I am today without him.
Your team will always be there for you throughout your internship, but it’s up to you to take the initiative to get to know them. Although there are pressures that come with being an intern, keep in mind that everyone on the team is rooting for you! At the end of the day, your internship is what you make out of it. Happy interning!