I’ve learned a few valuable lessons in my internships, and I hope these three things will be helpful to anyone beginning an internship in advertising.
In the beginning of an internship it is often intimidating to ask questions. You might be afraid of annoying your boss or sounding stupid. Sometimes you might think the time for asking questions has passed or that you’ve already asked too many questions. Don’t worry about any of that. Asking questions is the best thing you can do as an intern. It is how you learn tasks and understand their purpose. That’s why it’s better to ask questions early and often, so that you thoroughly understand things before you are given more responsibility later. Your boss will be happy to answer your questions because it shows that you take your job seriously and want to learn. So go ahead and ask away!
Don’t expect a conventional 9-5
Whether you’re in the creative track or account management, the advertising world doesn’t run on a predictable schedule. The number of project timelines I have adjusted in my internship is a testament to the fact that deadlines and timing are constantly changing. Like that final paper you might be about to write, an ad campaign can require a late night before the deadline. Be prepared to skip your lunch break or stay late some nights. That probably doesn’t sound fun, especially if it’s an unpaid position, but you can learn valuable things about the industry and the advertising process. Staying late also shows that you’re dedicated to learning from your internship and that makes a good impression on your employer!
Be prepared to handle stress
I’m sure every student in the advertising department has heard from one teacher or another that the advertising industry is cut throat. While I think that point has been exaggerated, it is a competitive business, and that means it can be stressful. An agency is under constant pressure to win pitches, gain clients, come up with the best creative, meet deadlines and stand out from the competition. As an intern stepping into that world for the first time, it can be daunting. It’s tough to stay calm when other people around you are stressed. When the pressure mounts and you feel like you are in over your head, you just have to remember that you’re an intern. Nobody expects you to know the answers to problems. Just have a positive attitude and try to help everyone in the office the best that you can. You will be appreciated!