Working in a cool advertising agency affords me the privilege to meet many an intern and job shadower. We have a steady stream of wide-eyed, fresh faces who have a self-professed interest in marketing. And for many of them, that’s the extent of my knowledge.
You see, even though I’ve met several of our interns, very few have allowed anyone in the company to get to know them. Typically, they come in each morning, sit at the intern station, keep their heads down, do what they’re told, and then go home at the end of the day. Where’s the fun in that–for anyone?
The successful intern wanders around the office (when time allows) and regularly asks to shadow folks or if anyone needs help on projects. They’re engaged with their surroundings. They approach each day with renewed curiosity and the desire to learn. (After all, that’s what an internship is for, right?) But perhaps the most important thing an intern can do is let his or her freak flag fly.
Show some personality! Make your experience memorable–for yourself and those around you. Work doesn’t have to mean “the absence of fun.”
An internship can be a pivotal stepping stone to getting hired. Asher retained several superstar interns. When we can’t, we keep our eyes and ears open for other opportunities they might be interested in. But here’s a little secret: a company is more likely to go out of their way for you if you make your time with them top-quality and personable. Those interns who just show up every day and then disappear when their internship is over? They’re not exactly top of mind when it comes to job opportunities.
Mr. Matt Warrener, one of our recent interns, proudly waved his freak flag. He came to the office each day with an endless supply of enthusiasm, ready to consume whatever task was put before him. When days were slow, he’d wander the halls, asking each department if they needed help with anything. If the answer was no (and they didn’t seem too busy), he’d inquire about their latest project. His desire to learn the business was insatiable. His zest and smile were contagious. And most of all? He made the experience unique and memorable.
Matt has been affectionately known as “Frodo” ever since we geeked out over our mutual Lord of the Rings love. I’ve shown his Rube Goldberg video to maybe two dozen people (see below). And, even though he had employment lined up before his internship was finished with us, I still thought highly enough of his creativity to write him a LinkedIn recommendation.
Want to turn your internship into a winning experience? Ask yourself how you want to be remembered when your time is up at the intern desk. Make specific goals for what you’d like to learn during your internship (i.e. a skill, better understanding of a department, what you want to be when you grow up, etc.). Play nicely: these relationships you’re forming have staying power if you go about them the right way. Lastly, let those freak flags fly–but in a way that’s authentic to you. Show off your talents, share your dreams, and inject some humor when appropriate. Internships are a great way to test the waters for marketing the greatest asset you’ll ever have: you.