For anyone looking to get into the marketing field, an ad agency internship is a necessary building block that will help you jumpstart your career. It can help you determine your interests, strengths, and weaknesses; what
kind of culture or benefits you want in a company; and can even lead to a full-time position. Just as importantly, you gain experience and skills that will better prepare you for the job market.
I am currently a public relations intern at Devaney & Associates, and have had two previous internships, so I have been through the process a few times. I have compiled tips based on my experience that may help you land your dream advertising or PR internship.
The First Impression
Your résumé is usually an agency’s first impression of you. They are potentially receiving hundreds of other applications, so you want to stand out. It should be one page and include your most relevant experience, highlight your skills, and position you as competent and knowledgeable. Since advertising is a creative industry, make your résumé have a unique factor. You can use color, fonts, infographics, and design elements to help amp up the aesthetics.
Tailor your résumé specifically to each position you apply to by reading the job description carefully and incorporating the language and skills that apply to you. Before you send it out, get another opinion and have someone else proofread it. If your school has a career center that helps with résumé building and writing, take advantage of the opportunity to have an experienced professional review and edit it.
Before you start applying to internships, ask yourself, “What do I want to get out of this experience?” It is helpful to have an idea of what you are looking for when you are reading the job descriptions. It is also important to accept that most internships are not going to be paid positions, but that should not be a deterrent. For me, accepting an unpaid position was something I was willing to do for the experience—and it pays off in the long-run.
There are a lot of places to find advertising and PR internships. Look at your college’s job board or job sites like Indeed or Handshake. Often, agencies will post openings on their website and social media, so frequently look into companies you are interested in and see if they are offering any positions.
Even if you don’t see an opening, send them an email with your résumé and a cover letter explaining why you are interested in their company and how you would be an asset to them as an intern. You never know, they may make a position for you.
Ideally, your research and endless applications will pay off and you will be offered an interview. Whether your interview is over the phone, via Skype, or in person, make sure you prepare beforehand.
There are a few things I always do that help me feel ready:
- Research the agency and prepare questions you want to ask your interviewer. This shows you are interested in them and have put a lot of thought into this position.
- Practice answering possible questions. You can find commonly asked questions online and have a friend sit down with you for a mock interview.
- Prepare talking points. Before every interview, I always write down talking points—relevant projects I’ve worked on, highlights from past internships, and ways I’ve demonstrated the skills that were in the job description. This helps me get my thoughts together, answer questions more thoroughly, and feel less nervous during the process.
After your interview, follow up with an email thanking your interviewer(s) for his or her time and consideration. In your email, you can reiterate positive discussion points from your interview to remind them of why you’re a great candidate.
Throughout the entire process, be persistent and don’t give up. Don’t get discouraged if agencies never get back to you or if you don’t get the internship you really wanted. This means it might not have been a good fit for either you or the company. Keep applying and you will eventually find an agency that fits your experience.
Remember that it is okay to be nervous. A teacher once told me if you aren’t nervous before an interview, it means that you don’t really want the job. Once you’ve accepted an internship, go in with an open mind and be ready to learn. Don’t be afraid to ask a lot of questions. They are there to help you, and you are there to help them.