13 tips to share with your interns

Interns are a valuable resource for marketing and advertising execs, and it’s important to foster this mutually beneficial relationship. Following is some great advice from two recent interns on how to make the most of this experience.

Don’t worry about getting shot down. 
If you have an idea for a campaign, don’t be shy about telling your boss. Even if it’s unrealistic or your boss completely hates it, you’re still demonstrating interest and initiative. Everybody has ideas that get shot down sometimes, even senior marketers.

Find a project you care about.
When I launched RPA’s Snapchat account, I was creating a project that would last through my internship and even after I was gone. Having a project that I was passionate about was the most rewarding experience I’ve had at RPA because it gave me something to look forward to at work as well as something I can proudly look back on as my contribution to the agency.

It definitely makes it more exciting to come to work when you have something you are excited about. If there isn’t, find something and make it great!

Don’t shy away from new experiences. 
It may be a cliché, but it’s a cliché for a reason. When I was just starting my internship, I wrote my first press release. I had never written one before, but reluctantly agreed to give it a shot. My draft of it required so much editing that the final draft looked like a completely new press release. But what I learned from the editing process was invaluable and prepared me for future press-release writing.

This is the whole point of an internship: to gain experience. Take advantage of every opportunity to learn and grow. You get out of your internship what you put into it.

Learn real-world application. 
Doing PR in an advertising agency may seem like somewhat of a paradox, but I was able to see the fine distinctions that make each side unique, as well as what they have in common. The power of earned media has blurred the lines between the two, but I was fortunate enough to see the roles of both.

It’s really interesting to take what you learn and apply it to the real world. It’s important to reflect on experiences and apply what you’ve learned to many different things.

Contribute in meetings. 
During the first week of my internship, I went to a panel that involved various people in the field of public relations and received one of the best pieces of advice. A panelist directed his advice to interns and said that we should always contribute during meetings because, more often than not, we are in the target demographic. That advice stuck with me, but I didn’t actually put it to use because I thought that this was advice for more seasoned interns. It doesn’t matter if this is your first or fifth internship — this applies to you. When you contribute, your input isn’t only a value to your team, but also the feedback you receive is a learning experience for you as well.

It may seem very intimidating to speak up in a meeting with all these higher executives who have way more experience than you, but everyone is part of a team. Collaboration is the key to a successful working environment.

Jargon is a real thing, so get used to it. 
If anyone had told me to “put a deck together” before my internship, I would’ve told them to call a contractor because I’m not good with tools. Now, when I hear someone say something like “Please get that deck to me by EOD because I’m OOO tomorrow on a shoot,” I actually understand that they’re saying, “Please get that PowerPoint presentation to me by the end of day, because I’m out of the office tomorrow to film that commercial.”

There will definitely be some agency jargon that you don’t understand at first, but you get used to it. People won’t always go out of their way to explain this sort of stuff to you, so don’t be afraid to ask what something means.

Take advantage of informational interviews. 
If your company doesn’t offer formal informational interviews, talk with the people in other departments to learn more about your industry and where your department fits in the grand scheme of things.

Even if you don’t think you’re interested in specific departments, you should still learn about them and where they fit in, because chances are it’ll make your job a lot easier. Plus, when your friends ask you questions about your industry, you will actually know what you’re talking about.

Build relationships. 
Connections are key. When people get to know you and like who you are, they’re more willing to help you both with where you currently are, and where you want to be in the future. Even if you don’t get the chance to form strong connections with everyone, doing simple things like smiling at someone when they pass by in the hallway goes a long way.

After all, you never know where someone will end up. Maybe you made a bad career move, but your former boss knows of a company where you’d be a better fit. Basically, make every relationship count.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions. 
If you don’t fully understand something, it’s better to admit it than to wait until it’s too late. It’s better to ask for specifics on a project than to do it all wrong. If you do something completely wrong, your boss will be more annoyed than if you asked one too many questions beforehand.

Always ask others if they need help. 
You won’t seem annoying if you ask people throughout the day if they need help. If anything, they’ll appreciate it. Even if your co-workers don’t have something for you to work on, they’ll definitely remember you asked.

This is also a great way to learn about other departments. Maybe you’ll like the work you’re doing for a different department and can apply for a position there in the future.

Appreciate workplace reality. 
You’ll see agency politics, collaboration, and obstacles that get in the way. Client communication can be a long process. It’s enlightening, sometimes difficult, and useful to have experienced before officially entering the professional world.

You’ll also learn that structure exists for a reason. It may be frustrating to have to go through various teams and managers to get approval for simple tweet copy, but it’s necessary and helpful to understand real-world processes.

Get to know agency culture. 
Each agency, especially in the world of advertising, has such a unique culture. It’s important to find the culture that works for the individual. Working at an agency that fits your personality and work style leads to feeling valued, and doing better work as a result. At RPA, I feel that I have become a valued member because of the way everyone treats each other. Their collaborative and relaxed work culture is where I feel most comfortable. It’s all about finding your ideal environment.

Finding a place where you do your best work is so important. If you thrive under pressure and work independently, you shouldn’t work somewhere where you don’t get that pressure. Alternatively, you shouldn’t find yourself struggling to survive at a company when you work best in a collaborative work environment.

Enjoy it. 
With all the learning experiences, stress, opportunities, and time commitments that come with an internship, it is crucial to remember to enjoy every second of it. It’s possible to work hard and have fun at the same time. Your attitude determines everything. So be positive and live it up.

This is really the most important piece of advice because it doesn’t matter how much you learned if you didn’t enjoy it. When you’re proud of yourself and your work, you’re happiest.

Caroline Moreton worked as a public relations intern at RPA. Co-author Candace Call worked as an account management intern at RPA.

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Originally published at www.imediaconnection.com.

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