Nailing that agency internship

Written and compiled by Marketing Strategist, Marika Malliaris.

Agency internship Synergize

Congratulations on landing your very first internship, it’s a huge accomplishment. Now that you’ve been through the nerve-wracking process of applications and interviews, the hard work is only just beginning.

How do you best prepare yourself to make the most of this opportunity? Because let’s face it, you’re not being paid a lot so you might as well get the most out of learning as much as you can along the way.

Here are 10 pointers to help you nail that agency internship:


1. Forget what you’re getting paid

By accepting this internship, you should have already made provision for whatever salary you’ve accepted. This is probably one of the few times in your life where you’ll work way beyond what you’re worth, and by focusing on that you’re only going to limit your learning.

Focus on the opportunity you’ve been given to put your studies into practice. You’re in an environment where you’ll be working alongside actual account managers and heads of department, working with real clients. My advice: milk them for all the knowledge they’re worth.

2. Do the dirty work

Accept the fact that you’re probably the most junior person on the payroll, and that you’ll have to make your manager a cup of coffee every now and then. Rather do it with a smile and show that you’re a team player, than be sour about it and create a bad impression. Remember, you may be the least important person in the room – but you’re there.

Whether you’re taking notes during an important briefing, getting the coffee on a shoot, or sitting in on a pitch dry run, you’re there. This is agency life, and you’re getting to witness the real hustle and bustle of it first-hand.

3. Start with goals

When you walk into the office on your first day, know exactly where you want to be on the last day. Have at least one thing you want to achieve by the time your internship is over.

It’s important to have a plan. If you don’t have a clue, and you’ve accepted this internship to discover yourself and find out what it is that you want to do one day, that’s fine. Make that your goal then, so that at the end of your internship you’ve accomplished something for yourself, and taken one step closer to knowing what you’re working towards.

4. Introduce yourself

This means everyone. Introduce yourself to everyone you get the chance to meet. You’re working in an environment, surrounded with people who are in a position that you’d like to achieve one day, this isn’t the time to shy away and be lazy. Chances are, they’ll take the time to talk to you just to prolong going back to their desk for a few minutes.

If you’ve got it in you, strike up a conversation with the CEO when the moment is right. Make sure you make a good impression and that they know your name, it’ll be worth it.

5. Stay busy

This is something you can focus on implementing throughout your career, so it’s best to start getting into the habit now. Work as though any moment someone is going to ask you, “What are you busy with right now?”

Never be bored, or at least don’t ever look like you are. If being proactive is not something you’re good at, get good at it. Ask someone if you can help them with their work or start a pet project, like taking one of the company’s clients and seeing where they can improve, or brainstorm a new campaign for them.

6. Read up

Here’s something else you can do to be proactive and keep yourself busy, because you can never know enough. The internet is full of content, familiarise yourself with some worthwhile marketing blogs and online publications.

Throughout your day, write things down that you don’t understand or want to learn more about, and read up further when you have some time. It will benefit you, as well as your career in the long run.

7. Speak up

If your aim with this internship is to discover your strengths and weaknesses, or find a career path in life, then being able to express how you feel is vital. It’s very possible that you get placed in one department, but find that another area of expertise is more in line with your interests. In this situation, don’t be scared to bring it up with your line manager. They’ll appreciate that you are open and honest, and will respect the fact that you’re willing to explore your possibilities.

Perhaps, you’re happy with the department you’re in but want to explore a different side of it. For example, if you’re working as a social media intern but would prefer to be given more strategy work instead of community management, speak up about it. Your future self will be oh so grateful.

8. Attitude

Good luck with this one, your attitude is constantly going to be questioned. Don’t have too much of it or too little, don’t have a bad attitude or be too good. So how do you win?

Always stay true to yourself, people will end up liking you for you. Accept criticism and learn from it, smile, stay late if need be, and don’t try be someone you’re not. If all else fails, fake it ‘til you make it.

9. Do more

Yes, you’re making tea and coffee, taking notes, trying to find which meeting room you’re supposed to be in all on top of doing your own work, and now you’re expected to do more. All this means is, don’t do the bare minimum.

There’ll be many times when someone is briefing you and they’ll end off by saying, “just make it your own” and then send you on your way. Don’t stress, see it as a chance to show how talented and creative you are, go big. Even if you’ve missed the brief, your effort will be valued. The most important thing is to not let a task defeat you. Learning from a mistake will take you a lot further than giving up.

10. Know the company before you start

Before arriving on your first day, make sure you’ve read the company website back to front, at least twice. Stalk the agency’s social media pages, familiarise yourself with who they are and align yourself with their tone of voice, so that when you start you already feel part of the team.

The company’s background will definitely come up a few times during your time there, you have no idea how impressed they’ll be to know that you’ve shown an interest and informed yourself.


And one more thing…


Here’s an extra tip for the road: have fun. Although there’s no doubt that you will. Taking up an internship is one of the most valuable things you can do for yourself in order to shape your future, enjoy it and learn as much as possible while you have the chance. After all, it’s the longest job interview you’ll ever have.


Twitter: @HeyMixi


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