YOU ARE MAGIC.

Photo by Almos Bechtold on Unsplash.

There’s something to be said for humility. Humility makes us approachable, coachable, and adaptable. It tends to focus outward more than inward. Humility says, “I am one drop in a large ocean. I am a work in progress.”

But there’s something to be said for recognizing the positive impact you make on the world around you, too.

I battle impostor syndrome, but I’m also motivated to “leave the campsite better than I found it.” I thrive on helping others, spreading kindness, and being a beacon of light (however small). When I don’t feel like my light is very bright, I reflect the light of others. Especially to those who can’t seem to see or feel their own warmth.

Photo by Hello I’m Nik on Unsplash.

Several years ago, I started keeping notes from others as a way to index my positive effect. I kept a physical file called “Folder of Awesome” in which I’d place thank you cards, emails, etc. That evolved to also include keeping a list of wins and milestones, even if they seemed insignificant at the time. I do this to combat the effects of impostor syndrome—a way to validate, with proof, everything I have accomplished in line with my personal goals (see the campsite quote).

But this catalog of awesome also helps me get through rough patches, dark days, and times when I allow someone else to dim my light. (We all have moments when others cause us to question our worth, despite our best efforts.) Another unexpected by-product of this is an easy way to look back on positive highlights for writing bios, presentation introductions, and job interviews. The most meaningful way to convey the impact we make is through sharing our stories.

It’s easy to forget just how much light we put out into the world—how life-changing it can be. That person you wrote a letter of recommendation for—and they got the job! That student you inspired because you spoke in a class once. The words of encouragement that took you seconds to deliver but made a lasting impact. The mentee you took under your wing at work who is now blazing his or her own path. The kindness you showed when someone needed it most even though you had no idea at the time how alone he or she felt. Volunteering. Investing time. Investing resources. Investing yourself. Leaving the campsite better than you found it.

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash.

Sometimes, we do these things because we genuinely care. Sometimes, we do them because we feel fortunate and want to extend grace and mirth. And sometimes, we do them because we know what it feels like to be down or lost—and we don’t want others to experience what we have.

Whatever your motivations, you are light. You are love. And while you’re out there, spreading kindness like confetti, make sure you show yourself a little of kindness, too. Take a moment to celebrate YOU and all that you’ve accomplished.

If this feels like bragging, stop right there. It isn’t bragging if you’re keeping a catalog of your own awesomeness for yourself. But you also deserve to toot your horn every once in a while. To look back on the love you’ve shared, the community you’ve fostered. Sometimes, looking back helps propel us forward.

You aren’t an impostor. You are magic. And don’t you forget it.

WE BUILT THIS KITTY

We built this kitty
We built this kitty on rock and roll
Built this kitty
We built this kitty on rock and roll

Call me a crazy cat lady, say it to my face
Four cats may be too many, we need a bigger place
Knee deep in the cat box, scooping left and right
Too much canned food means they’re stinking up the night

NuNu plays the mamba, listen to the radio
Don’t you remember?
We built this kitty
We built this kitty on rock and roll

We built this kitty
We built this kitty on rock and roll
Built this kitty
We built this kitty on rock and roll

Someone’s always chasing cat toys in the hall
Who cares if it’s 4am? Gotta chase that ball!
Krampus wants to sleep in, but JJ’s a butthole
Fur-flying mayhem is his only goal

Zooey plays the mamba, listen to the radio
Don’t you remember?
We built this kitty
We built this kitty on rock and roll

We built this kitty
We built this kitty on rock and roll
Built this kitty
We built this kitty on rock and roll

It’s just another Caturday
On a quiet old street
Good thing the old neighbor lady
Is deaf to all this sheeeet

Who bats the cat toys in the crinkle sack?
Who meows at the door, fearing Hooman won’t be back?
Don’t tell us you fed us ’cause the bowl is missing food
Commence scarf-n-barf that’s barely even chewed

(I’m looking out over northeast Fort Dub on another gorgeous sunny Caturday and I’m seein’ those crazy cats at it again.)

Don’t you remember? (remember)

(Here’s your favorite radio station, from your favorite radio kitty, the kitty in the window, the kitty that rocks, the kitty that NEVER sleeps.)

The kitties play the mamba, listen to the radio
Don’t you remember?
We built this kitty
We built this kitty on rock and roll

We built this kitty
We built this kitty on rock and roll
Built this kitty
We built this kitty on rock and roll
Built this kitty (oh)
We built this kitty on rock and roll
Built this kitty
We built this kitty on rock and roll

(We built, we built this kitty) built this kitty (we built, we built this kitty)
(We built, we built this kitty) built this kitty (we built, we built this kitty)
(We built, we built this kitty) built this kitty (we built, we built this kitty)
(We built, we built this kitty) built this kitty (we built, we built this kitty)

MICROPOEM: EVANUI

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash.

As the light waned and the air chilled,
she retreated within herself—
a hibernation of the soul
to reflect, recharge, and reimagine.

Please leave a message.
Someone will be with you shortly.

MICROPOEM: TREADING WATER

Photo of yellow leaf in water by Przemysław Sakrajda on Unsplash

Photo by Przemysław Sakrajda on Unsplash

The tide is strong,
and my legs are tired.

My head slowly sinks
below
the waterline.

I can hear
my heartbeat,

reminding me

I am
alive.

6 TIPS FOR LANDING AN INTERNSHIP AT AN AD AGENCY

Shout out to my current digital intern Samantha Whiting for joyfully posing with the "Hire me!" sign above. Sam landed her first full-time job while interning with us, working in marketing and social media for a local chain of restaurants. Way to go, Sam!

Shout out to my current digital intern Samantha Whiting for joyfully posing with the “Hire me!” sign above. Sam landed her first full-time job while interning with us, working in marketing and social media for a local chain of restaurants. Way to go, Sam!

Internships are a great way for college students to gain real-world experience and try on careers. A year ago, the full-service advertising agency I work for began a digital internship program. Each semester, we invite a local college student to join our digital team, trading their fresh perspectives and abilities for hands-on agency experience. We only have one position open a semester, yet we receive scads of resumes. As the applications have rolled in over the semesters, I’ve noticed an alarming trend: many of these applications really suck.

We’re talking about applications from students who have near-perfect GPAs, kids who I’m assured by people who know them are bright and creative, and kids who clearly want the job because they call or email every day checking on their application. These lackluster resumes and cover letters sell these students short and set the bar low for the competition. Many of them end up in our “pass” pile.

Here are six tips for crafting a standout, kick-ass internship application that will keep your name at the top of the candidate list.

Creative presentation gets attention. Advertising and marketing types are surrounded by creativity. Design is your hook–it’s what gets people to even read your application. To get noticed, you need to go beyond the typical black font on a white Word doc. Take time to design your resume and highlight your skills related to the internship. (If design isn’t your bag, there are copious resume templates available online.) Don’t bother with a generic summary at the top; cut right to the chase and tell the reader what you offer the company.

A resume submitted by a young woman named Caity applying for a digital internship

A resume submitted by a young woman named Caity applying for a digital internship

One of our applicants made her resume into a sandwich, stating on the cover, “I’ve been a sandwich artist for 4 years. This is my best sandwich ever. Take a bite.” Flipping through the sandwich, the different layers represented different aspects of her experience: the chicken was academic work, onion represented her professional work, tomato contained relevant skills, lettuce held achievements, and so on. She included a captivating cover letter with the sandwich, and I wanted to hire her on the spot!

Yes, you need a cover letter. Even if the prospective employer doesn’t ask for one. And that cover letter should be tailored to each organization/position. I’ve actually received backdated cover letters addressed to different organizations. No, really, it’s happened.

The cover letter is your opportunity to demonstrate you did your homework on the company and have the skills needed for the position. If you don’t have any relevant skills but are sincerely, strongly motivated regarding the position, just be straightforward about it. A little honesty goes a long way.  (And lack of skills will be evident if you get hired.)

Show ’em what you got! Be prepared to offer samples of work related to the position. If you don’t have any samples, don’t be afraid to make some. Research who the agency’s clients are and draft up some creative pieces around that client. Demonstrate your initiative and creativity. It’s OK to have fun with it!

If you’re serious about working in a creative field, consider setting up an online portfolio. Include a link to your work in your resume and cover letter. A simple WordPress website allows flexibility to showcase pretty much any kind of work from writing to photos to video. There are also portfolio sites that mix in a dash of social networking like Behance. And don’t forget to upload your work right here on your LinkedIn profile.

Read your own stuff. I cannot stress the importance of proofreading your application materials enough. I wish I were joking, but I’ve received resumes with my own name at the top instead of the intern applicant’s name. This shouldn’t happen. Read your own stuff, and then have someone else read it. If your school has a writing center, consider taking your application materials in for a good polish.

Ace the interview. Be comfortable and confident about what you bring to the table. You may get asked questions for which you’re completely unprepared (we actually do this on purpose to see how well you think on your feet), but you can at least prepare for the usual interview-type questions like “Tell me about yourself.” or “Why should I hire you?” Practice with someone else if you need to. Your interview should flow like a conversation between parties getting to know one another–because that’s all an interview is: a conversation. Don’t be afraid of it. It’s also a chance for you to interview the company. I’m always impressed when applicants ask questions that reflect an interest in the ad business and/or our particular agency.

And, above all, be yourself. Our internships span entire semesters. That’s a long time to work with someone, and if you don’t fit personality/culture-wise, it’s gonna be a long internship. (See my blog for another post I wrote on letting your freak flag fly.)

The power of “thank you.” Everyone’s busy. If someone took the time to meet with you, make sure you thank them. This seems like such a small thing, but I’ve seen thank-you notes seal jobs for folks because that’s what made them stand out. It doesn’t really matter what format you choose–email, snail mail, video, etc.–just make sure you do it (and do it promptly).

I keep many thank-you cards I receive. The one on the bottom with the handwriting was sent by Sam (my current intern).

I keep many thank-you cards I receive. The one on the bottom with the handwriting was sent by Sam (my current intern).

Bonus tip that should go without saying: clean your social media profiles. We google every single applicant and check out what they’re doing on social media. Because our internship is based on digital skills, we like to see if you know what you’re talking about in your application. But we also do it to screen out candidates that don’t align with our culture. So make those drunken party pics private or delete them all together. Make sure your social media profiles reflect an authentic, professional version of yourself. (You’ll earn bonus points with me if you post funny cat photos/videos.)

Young folks: I know you’ve got the skills and talent to knock marketing internships out of the park. Your application is the first step toward proving it. Invest the time and creativity in telling your story. Make it so compelling, the hiring manager can’t help but invite you to an interview. That’s the secret of marketing: persuading people to do something. If you want to market on behalf of a client, brand, or product for a living, start with effectively marketing yourself.You are your most powerful brand advocate.