Last summer I decided to do something bigger than just my retail job at home, I applied for an internship in my degree field. I'm in the 2nd year of my marketing degree at Birmingham City University. I'm passionate about entertainment marketing and last summer I was lucky enough to work for a digital marketing agency who specialise in film and digital media. I gained some amazing experiences, met some awesome people and faced some really valuable learning hurdles.
What have I learnt being an intern?The company I worked for was small in size but huge in impact and as a film fan I found myself often star struck by some of the work that was going on around me. I learnt very quickly that the best way to remain productive and to stop yourself getting distracted is to take everything in with moderation, to stay passionate about the industry you're in but to remember that you have a job to do and you need to make sure you're being objective. Professionalism is key.
No such thing as a silly questionThe only way you'll get all the answers is to ask all the questions, I asked countless questions every day, to anyone who would answer them. Not always about my job but about theirs, any information you learn is good, might come in handy to be able to draw on that experience later. One of the stand out characteristics of the company I worked for is that they recognised that I wanted to learn, so everybody was so open in answering my questions, I was never made to feel stupid for asking.
Take initiativeLike I mentioned before the company was relatively small, meaning I'd be working with senior PR and Client managers on a daily basis, of course approaching such a senior member of staff is daunting but sometimes you just need to take a deep breath, remind yourself they're just people and go for it. My manager was off on holiday and it left our line of communication between us and the PR department a little cold for a couple days, until I decided to just go and find someone in PR, check in and see what I could do to help in my managers' absence. I found actually our PR manager was really thankful for the help and it showed a bit of initiative on my part.
Get involvedYou can get yourself as involved as you want to be, if there's a certain project or meeting that you think you could be an asset to or just something interesting or new you'd like to be involved in. Ask. It's that simple, if you want to learn more about the other departments within the company ask if you can spare a few hours to go and work within that team. I made sure I'd worked with all the departments in the building before I left. Not only did it teach me a lot about the other teams within the building but I learnt a lot about how that department works with my own. I wish I'd have done that much sooner, once I had I felt like I'd gained a much better relationship with the other people in the building but also I felt like I understood the company better as a whole. I think immersing yourself in the company is so important for understanding how it works, not just on the everyday stuff but looking at it as a business as well I think gives you a really valuable perspective.
Push yourselfInternships are not the place for comfort zones. You need to push yourself. That's the only way to make sure you get as much out of it as possible. Internships are invaluable no matter how long they are. Having first-hand experience matters, don't count on someone to hold your hand and guide you through it because that might not happen. I was lucky enough to have two amazing managers who did make sure I was happy and getting on ok. I was made to feel like a member of the team and so therefore I had to work like one, I had to make sure I was contributing. I used my initiative every day to make sure I was using my time to the best of my ability, sure asking questions along the way, but using a lot of gut instinct too.
Manners matterOne last tiny thing is that manners matter, after last summer I can take away some confidence in what I already knew. That being grounded and polite will get you far, you might feel like the coolest most grown up person ever, but approaching your colleagues in that way won't make you any friends. Being thankful for the experience is important, the people you meet may be those stepping stones you need to help you succeed in the future.
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