“The Dude’s” Top 5: Successful Internship Tips

My name is Josh Zimmerman and I’m an intern at D4 advertising agency in Manayunk PA.  I’m an aspiring copywriter, renowned film buff, and a proud Temple Owl.  Hoot!  Hoot!

*Inspired by the Coen Brothers film The Big Lebowski

1. Work Attire

“You don’t go out looking for a job dressed like that? On a weekday?”

Turn on an episode of Mad Men and you’ll likely notice the fashionable 1950’s work attire worn by the employees of the fictional agency Sterling Cooper.  Although Jon Hamm may appear dashing, wearing a skinny tie, smoking a hand rolled cigarette, all the while expertly conducting a pitch during a client meeting, in reality most agencies informally implement a far less formal dress code.  One rule of thumb is to wear what you would wear out on a first date.  For better or worse the clothes we wear often speak volumes about our personalities.  Make sure your clothes aren’t saying the wrong things about you.


2.  Open Mindset

“No, Donny, these men are nihilists, there’s nothing to be afraid of.”

A creative mind must be malleable, venturesome, and under constant self-evaluation as to not mistakenly fall victim to “boxed in thinking”.  One of the head creatives at our agency is constantly reminding us to break outside of our subconscious patterns of thought.  There are several ways to improve your mind’s ability to break outside of your own thinking habits.  When I’m out of fresh ideas for an assignment, my favorite exercise is to take one of those large design/photography/illustration books that are published annually, and try to connect every ad in the books back to your assignment.  Often a great idea is the result of the combination of two pre-existing ideas.  Hopefully by doing this you’re able to create new thoughts and ideas.

3. Confidence

“It’s like what Lenin said… you look for the person who will benefit, and, uh, uh…”

“…I am the Walrus?”

As a creative, the first hurdle you must overcome is realizing that not all of your ideas are going to be the “crème de la crème”.  Try to look at advertising through baseball lenses.  Creatives are like batters in that even the greatest ones only hit the mark around three tenths of the time.  Most baseball players will tell you that more at bats generally mean more production and the same can usually be said to be true in advertising.  Don’t hesitate to speak up in a meeting.  If none of your ideas are received positively, then keep trying and learn from your mistakes.

Don’t Let the Walters of the World Crush Your Creativity.

4. Memory

“I’m sorry I wasn’t listening, can you repeat that?”

As creatives, ideas are our lifeline. Big ideas can often be unpredictable. Unfortunately, there’s no GPS to indicate when your next good idea is going to arrive. Whether it’s in your bed, the shower, or working out at the gym, the arrival of such an idea can be inconvenient if you’re not able to quickly copy it down, which is why a smart creative always carries around a means of recording ideas (personally I prefer small pad of paper and pen). Good ideas are fleeting and easily forgotten, make sure you have a reliable way of remembering yours.

5. Cleanliness

“At least I’m house broken.”

This should go without saying, but treat your workspace as if it were your own. The employees at an agency spend a great deal of time in the office place, often treating it as if it were a second home. They are also quick to notice when someone makes a mess or doesn’t clean up after themselves. When possible, it’s always recommended to leave a space in better shape than when you first arrived. This means doing things without needing to be asked, like refilling the paper in the printer, cleaning dirty dishes, or even emptying the trash. These small acts can go a long way in the eyes of your employers.

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