I remember my first internship interview. It lasted all of 5 minutes.
When I was first applying to internships, I must have applied to 30. I checked Temple Handshake, LinkedIn, Indeed – you name it. A couple stood out to me, and a couple didn’t even include the work I’d want to be doing there, or in the future. I first applied for a position as a copywriting intern at a marketing agency in Brynn Mawr, PA. The internship would be completely remote, to take place in Spring 2022. After submitting my resume, a cover letter, and a portfolio along with my application, I was delighted to hear back from the company, saying they wanted to take some time to talk to me.
I was ecstatic! I was finally growing up and becoming an adult. Yay! So, I emailed back, saying let’s set up a Zoom meeting. I heard back – our dates did not coincide. So, I emailed again, and he responded, and so forth. After 2 weeks of me conveniently procrastinating, I found time and called his number, and in an excited tone I said “Hi, it’s finally me!” at which point he said: “We’re actually gonna take a different direction. It seems like you don’t have the time.” Oh. Ouch. My own procrastination is my biggest enemy. I realized okay, now it’s time to get real. It’s time to be taken seriously, and in order to do that, you have to actually ACT seriously.
So I applied at Neff, an advertising agency in Philadelphia. I heard back, we scheduled a Zoom interview, and I thought I did very well. About 2 weeks went by and I decided to finally send a follow-up email, which was my last shred of actual determination (as compared to how I dealt with time before). This was also me throwing in the towel, and accepting my fate that I didn’t have what it takes to be in the business, adulting world yet. But I heard back. And the email said: “Welcome to the team!” I could hardly believe it.
After a couple more meetings and a meet-and-greet with the President and CEO David Neff, I arrived back to school after Christmas break. I started working beginning of the spring semester. My first day I was briefed on all of the clients at the company, met all the employees, and learned more about the departments of an ad agency and how they run. My first day ended with my car getting towed. Many lessons learned.
After the few first weeks, I was really working hand-in-hand with the company’s graphic designer, who was in charge of content creation and media. He composed all of the artwork behind social posts for clients, and I worked with him to generate copy to go with it, to fit each client’s tone and audience. It was right up my alley. In down time that I had, I was given some other small responsibilities and busy work that the company needed finished. This meant that I was also working hands-on with PR, including sourcing and inputting influencers and other social media things into charts to provide for certain clients. I also did a lot of research on articles that could be featured on social accounts as well, and examining hashtags and post insights. I even took some time to work on Neff’s personal social media accounts, including starting a TikTok.
After several weeks, Neff’s main graphic designer that I had worked under decided to pursue other opportunities. This meant that I was no longer working side-by-side, and I learned to navigate a program known as Sprout Social, which Neff used for all of their clients to schedule, draft, and create content to post. This was almost easier for me to use – all I had to do was go into the scheduled draft and write some copy to match the pictures. A lot of this copywriting couldn’t be done without a brand review on my part, though. I spent lots of time going through agendas, recaps, reports, and brand guidelines for each client. I spent a lot of time figuring out what worked and why, and using that to fuel copywriting for the many captions I’d written. I also was involved in coming up with ideas to generate publicity and attention on social for new onboarding clients, that didn’t seem to have any brand guidelines or recognition at all.
Classes that I’d taken in the past at Temple certainly prepared me for this journey at Neff. As I’m winding down in my last few weeks here, I would say that not only did I apply previous knowledge to this position to help Neff, but I learned a whole lot from this agency and community. I learned how they work together, how they resolve conflicts with clients, and why being a team at an ad agency is so important. There is some sort of beauty in the advertising field – everyone works together, and under deadlines, pressure, and stress of the modern world. And this is what creates friendships. It’s not just co-workers. At Neff, these employees seemed to be in a tight-knit group that banded together at work to come up with new ideas. And who also enjoyed going out to lunch together. Perk.
While this internship was unpaid, I will say that I learned more than I could have imagined from being at an agency in-person. Seeing how things run in the real world, and not just working online, really opens my eyes to what to expect for future jobs. It opened my eyes to realize that not everything I write is going to go well, even in a meeting with the client that I sit on where they unknowingly bash my copywriting. But that’s okay. All clients are different. This is a real-world experience, this is real life. These are real people. And these are connections that will surely last a lifetime in the future.
So, if you’re considering taking that in-person internship, and you’re really passionate about your writing and want to see how an advertising agency works before you have to do it everyday from 9-5, enjoy the trial run. And don’t procrastinate. But if you do, know that it all works out. Take it from me.