My Internship Experiences & What You Can Learn From Them
By Colton Curtner –
Projects, whether they are for interns or full-time employees, are a foundational aspect of any business environment. It could be a marketing campaign, a research report, or anything that is particularly designed and measured to achieve a goal. In an advertising agency, projects are of paramount importance, since every client is essentially a project with measurable goals. Giving interns experience with projects, even if they don’t have full control, has many benefits both for them and their employers.
One benefit of engaging in projects is the exposure to working with real clients. This is great for multiple reasons, but most prominently because it forces the intern to be invested and provides meaning to their work. No matter how small the project is, I know my work is valuable because it contributes to the success of the client.
Another benefit, which coincides with the one above, is that I am taking (at least a small amount) of work off of my employer. I ask for help when needed, but otherwise I can take on my own responsibilities. I have found this to help me become more independent and useful, all while reducing my colleagues’ workload.
Finally, projects present a purpose. For many interns, they may not know if they’ve chosen the right path. With projects being time-consuming in nature, they allow these individuals to get a grasp on what they will be doing full time. For some, these projects will open their eyes and realize they aren’t interested in that line of work. However, for many others, projects will reinforce their interests and even open doors to new career paths.
In my two months at Lever, I have been exposed to multiple divisions of the agency and given valuable experience with those respective teams. Some projects were SEM (search engine marketing) facing, some were SEO (search engine optimization) facing. Regardless, just by doing projects for these different teams, I have been able to identify what I enjoy doing, something I did not know prior to my internship. I will go into detail about two projects I have been working on—organic social media marketing and link-building—both of which were on the SEO side of the organization.
Organic social media marketing (SMM) involves the oversight of accounts and creation of content. I oversee three companies’ media accounts, and with that comes many responsibilities. This involves some customer service, like responding to reviews and posts about the company. It also includes production and scheduling of content, such as creative captions for corporate blog posts and infographics. Put that all together, and add a decent size audience, and quickly it becomes a project worth time and focus.
Link-building is a very effective strategy for companies looking to get referenced by other content creators. It involves having a piece of content (blog post, review, etc.) include a link back to the company’s preferred page, whether it is a product page or whatever the company wants referenced. This link-building process includes researching qualified content that’s relevant to the company I am linking for and reaching out to them personally. In short, is a form of marketing aimed at convincing the content creator that it’s worth their time to put in a link to your site.
My time at Lever has taught me a great deal both about myself and the corporate environment. A big reason for that was my time devoted to different projects. Based on what I’ve learned, here are a few things that those on both ends of the aisle can gain from my experiences:
For employers: Make projects measurable and integrated into the business plan. Show the intern(s) that when they are following the right steps, they can see the fruits of their labor. This is great for morale and the overall learning experience.
For interns: This is not class, so don’t go through the project with your only focus being to complete it. Soak in what you learn throughout the process, so that you may apply this knowledge later in your career.
Check out Colton’s other blog posts about his internship experience:
- The Newbie: Life as the Digital Media Intern for Lever Interactive
- Five Things I’ve Learned Interning at a Digital Marketing Agency