Ah, summer. College has wrapped up for the year and agencies are offering their internship programs to those looking to get their foot in the door and gain some real-world marketing experience.
At emfluence, we place a high value on the interns who come to work for us. Agency interns aren’t just coffee getters and copy makers. They get a chance to see the inner workings of an agency that prepares them for careers in a way that a classroom simply can’t.
Just because you got a college degree, put together your resume and got a call to come in and interview doesn’t mean the work is done. Your first impression and how you interview is what makes or breaks your opportunity.
Would-be interns beware—getting an internship at an agency isn’t easy. If you missed the window this year, we’ve put together some tips based on our experiences that can help you prepare for the winter internship season:
- Be on time.
This sounds like a given, but this is so important. Remember, the person you are interviewing has a full-time job, and if they’re like me, their calendar is booked every day going from meeting to meeting. If you are late not only does it show a lack of time management, but it shows a lack of respect. Those are two very important things that you need to prove right away in an internship and in any new job. If you are running late (yes, I know life happens), be prepared and have a contact phone number available to call and see if you can either reschedule or to let them know you’re running late and if it’s still okay for you to come in at the time you think you’ll arrive. Plan your route, give yourself time to park and get up to the office, manage your time and show them they are important by being there when you are scheduled to arrive.
- Bring a printed version of your resume.
Take the initiative and print out your resume and plan on bringing a few copies. If you are interviewing with director or manager, he or she is likely in back-to-back meetings for much of the day. It’s very possible that they have only looked at your resume once and won’t have a copy of it at the meeting. This is your responsibility to provide and then be prepared to expand on what you’ve listed as your experiences and education. Use your resume as a guide to the conversation by highlighting what unique skills and qualifications you can bring to the agency.
** Bonus if you bring portfolio examples – Bring examples of work you’ve done, and use that as part of the interview discussion to display your experience and that you really do know what you’re talking about!
- Be prepared to share specific examples.
Again, your resume is a guide and jumping off point for the conversation. Be ready to share specific examples of challenges you’ve overcome, what your role was in projects and how to accomplished your goals. The more specific the better. Don’t just answer a question by saying you did something, describe how you did it and what it took to do it. Context is so important in everyday work, so show them you understand what you did and how you did it.
- Do your research on the agency.
Who is the agency, what do they do, what clients do they serve, what is their culture like? These are all things you should research before you walk in the door. Be prepared to relate your experiences back to who the agency is to show them you would be a good fit. Read a case study and give the person interviewing you specific information about the case study and what you found interesting; ask some questions about it!
**Bonus if you read blog posts or LinkedIn profile of the person interviewing you. If you can talk specifically to what they have written about, that really shows you respect them enough to do your homework.
- Have questions ready to go.
It’s inevitable that you will be asked “What questions do you have for us?” So please, make sure you have questions, and at a minimum have three really good questions that relate back to the agency as well as offers you the opportunity to talk more about your unique skill set that you bring with you. Make the questions specific to the agency and try to limit the generic ones like “What do you like most about working here”. That is important to know, but be creative with it. Turn it up by asking something like “I see you work with various Restaurant clients in the area, what do you like specifically about that industry? What do you find challenging about it?” Again, be specific and use the research that you’ve done on the agency to guide your questions.
- Be prepared to give an “elevator speech.”
An elevator speech is a brief message that communicates who you are, what you want to do and how you can benefit the agency. Think of it as your 30-second commercial of yourself. You want to have this prepared prior to any interview you do and practiced multiple times. This is your opportunity to share your expertise of who you are quickly and effectively.
- Follow up with a note.
This is still just as important as ever. A follow up with the person who interviews you is very important, and can even be done in an email immediately following the interview if you feel that’s appropriate. Make sure you thank them for your time and let them know you are looking forward to the next steps in the process (if you really are). The note needs to be clear, short and polite. It shows that you respected their time and that you are interested in the position and company.
**Bonus: if you walk away from the interview thinking “this job/agency isn’t really for me”, that’s ok too! Follow up with a polite note thanking them for their time but letting them know that you will be looking for additional opportunities at this time outside of their agency. Honesty is the BEST policy in these types of situations. If it’s not a good fit for you, it won’t be a good fit for the agency.
- Know why you want to work in an agency and in the marketing world.
Maybe you’ve seen Mad Men, or maybe you took some marketing classes and it sounded like an interesting future. Whatever your reasons are, take time to really think about why you want to be part of an agency and the marketing world. It’s a tough and competitive industry that will take a lot of you but also reward you in ways you can never imagine. So before you jump in, do your research and try to articulate why it’s an industry for you.
- What do you want to get out the internship? What are you looking to learn and how will the agency help you get there?
This internship will take up a significant portion of your time, so it’s important to know what you are going to get out of your investment. Why did you want the internship? What are you expecting them to offer you? Be sure to communicate your expectations to align both the person hiring and you on what you are wanting to get out of the internship.
- Smile and be yourself.
Take a deep breath and smile. Show your personality and the unique traits that you have to offer the company culture. It will be beneficial to you and the agency in knowing if you are a good match for them and vice versa.
These are just a few tips to help you land your internship (or even first job)! Good luck out there. Happy interviewing!