Getting into advertising: internships and experience

July 15th, 2015 / Leigh Campbell

Striking out into the real world is tough, and there’s a lot of competition for jobs – particularly in the creative industry.

But we’re offering as much advice as we can to help the best young talent hop onto that career ladder. If you’re hoping to gain internships and experience to but don’t know where to start, give this post a gander!

 

internships-work-experience

Please.

Us creative people are busybodies, we want to be making and creating and doing things all of the time. That’s really great when you’re 25 and have a full time job in a creative agency, but it’s less great when you’re 18 and being forced into taking a History A-Level because you managed to get an A in your GCSE.

Realistically, your first time job isn’t going to be as a part time copywriter, graphic designer, or digital marketing aficionado. I’m on the brink of 21 and I’ve had a part time job in a cinema since I was 17 – just as an example of what you’ll probably be doing.

What makes the difference in these formative career years is one thing: experience. Whether that’s a week here and there, summer internships, or the occasional bit of freelance, here are a few top tips on how to bag yourself one of those coveted internships.

1) Actually do things that will make you an asset to a business.

You don’t need to be in a professional setting to start working toward the career you want. Like Sophie said in her blog post last week, if you want to be a copywriter, you need to write. Similarly, if you want to be a graphic designer, make some designs. Build up a portfolio of things you’ve worked on in your spare time. If a business can see that you have a skill, they’re a lot more likely to take you on for experience and write you a stellar reference.

2) Don’t wait for something to fall into your lap, you have to go and get it!

I got my first internship by replying to an advert on studentbeans.com. From there, they looked at my blog, which I include on my CV, and asked me for an interview. I got my second internship (right here at Together!) by researching local businesses that did what I was interested in and emailing them expressing my interest to intern for them.

Are you seeing a trend here? You need to show that you are eager and passionate about the industry. The best way to do this is by letting them know that you’re eager and passionate by telling them. Simple, eh?

3) First impressions are everything; make that initial email count.

I don’t know if you’ve ever received an email that’s littered with spelling and grammar errors and is signed off with ‘Alright, bye’, but it doesn’t look good. It also doesn’t look good to have an email that has obviously been copy and pasted from a ‘job email template’ Google search.

Be original, be friendly, and put your enthusiasm across. Mention something that is unique to that company so they know that you’re interested in them specifically, and not just any old business that will give you some experience.

When I first emailed the lovely team at Together, I mentioned how much I enjoyed the varied content across their social media channels. I also let them know that I had experience in digital marketing, copywriting, proofreading, and blogging.

4) Always be on the lookout for jobs, events, and networking opportunities.

Like I said before, experience won’t drop out of the sky. You need to keep your eyes peeled at all times, scouring the internet, advertising boards, websites, blogs, Twitter, Facebook, and anything else that might have an inkling of an opportunity in it.

Another great way to gain experience is to know someone within the business. Look out for industry events in your local area, go to them, and talk to people. Find out what they do, take their business card, add them on LinkedIn. Express your interest in person and they’ll remember who you are when your email pops into their inbox.

5) Use your social media accounts for good.

Social media is brilliant, and at this stage I’m pretty convinced that we can’t live without it. Now, you know how you stalked the business to death before sending that email? Chances are they’ll do the same to you. Keep that in mind the next time you go out for drinks with friends – a nice photo of you all smiling gives the impression that you are sociable and friendly. A photo of you passed out on the floor still clutching a bottle does not.

I’m not saying that you need to transform your Twitter into a completely professional platform, but retweeting an article relevant to your industry every now and then couldn’t hurt. I’d also suggest that you sign up for LinkedIn and build your profile. This is the perfect way to connect with people in your desired industry, as well as getting insights and news that will let you get ahead of the game.


For more helpful hints that’ll give you a start on your creative career, try our post on becoming a copywriter. Or, if you reckon you could bring something to our team on a work experience placement (like our friend Leigh, here), why not get in touch?

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