How to land (and keep) an Iowa marketing internship
If you want to land (and keep) your first marketing internship, pay attention. Over the course of my own experience, I’ve discovered four steps you need to succeed in your own quest for an Iowa marketing internship.
Last spring, I was studying abroad, which made applying for internships difficult. Not only was there at least a 7-hour time difference between me and everyone else, but I was also second-guessing my entire major and wasn’t able to visit with my academic advisor. Can I get a “yikes?”
Step 1: Apply for internships outside of your wheelhouse.
I was hired by Lessing-Flynn, one of the oldest ad agencies in the U.S. Yet, advertising as an industry had never occurred to me as a future career path before. As a public relations major, I only thought of applying for PR internships.
Defining a major can be a stressful process in itself, therefore straying from it afterward may not be a thought we allow ourselves to have — it’s a safe space. But that’s a mistake: Don’t let job descriptions make you doubt your actual experience.
I was writing mostly newspaper articles and news releases before I even touched copywriting, so for a while, I limited my job scope. But eventually, I applied for Lessing-Flynn’s summer copy intern position and got the job. And now, I also have an advertising minor.
In my experience, mass communication and journalism studies make you into a versatile marketer, whether you like it or not. So, while the job title may not specifically scream insert your major here, that doesn’t mean you’re not qualified. After all, it’s ultimately up to the person in charge of hiring to decide how well you fit. Let that comfort you instead of letting it scare you off. Apply!
Step 2: Stand out among the applicant crowd.
It may not seem like it, but Iowa is a marketing hub. Many colleges even have PRSSA, AMA or AAF student chapters — I know mine does. Make sure any involvement you have with these entities is on your resume, but even if you don’t there are other ways to stand out.
You obviously plan to submit a resumé and cover letter. But one way to stand out is extremely simple: Match the color scheme of your resumé and cover letter to the business you’re applying at. For example, if I were to reapply to Lessing-Flynn, I would accent with red and black. It’s an easy, two-second way to show your cleverness and gets employers into the mindset of already thinking of you as part of their team.
And when it comes time to interview, keep showing your personality — especially if you’re applying for a position in the creative department.
Step 2a: Become well-versed in virtual internship interviews.
If you’re not native to the state your dream internship is in, that doesn’t mean you should count yourself out of a particular job. I was applying for an Iowa marketing internship but wasn’t actually in Iowa. That meant all of my internship interviews were either via video chat or phone call. For me, it was intimidating. But now, I have the expertise.
- Account for the time difference, if there is one. In Spain, I was seven hours ahead of everyone back home, and sometimes, I forgot. When you’re scheduling your interview(s), make sure to ask if they mean 3 p.m. their time, or your time.
- Wear something nice, even if it’s just a phone call. Take my word for it; if you wear pajamas during your phone interview, it may affect your performance whether the interviewer can see you or not. I’m a big believer in the connection between the subconscious and dressing for success. And who doesn’t love business casual?
- Pick somewhere quiet and with a good connection. I’ve done more virtual interviews outdoors than I would like to admit, and the wind is incredibly unforgiving. Don’t put yourself in that situation — or a coffee shop, library, etc. Shutting yourself away in your room is usually the best option. But if it’s a video interview, make sure your room is clean. Throw all of the dirty laundry out-of-frame.
- Put your listening ears on. Technology is our friend most of the time, but sometimes, it works against us. Make sure you’re really paying attention because you may encounter anything from a lag in video or a microphone cutting out. At the same time, don’t be afraid to clarify what the interviewer said. They will understand.
Step 3: Let yourself learn on the job.
When you get an internship, if your employer is anything like mine, they aren’t about to let you embark on any client work until your onboarding process is over. Onboarding will likely vary at each organization, but my onboarding consisted of two weeks of meetings that introduced me to not only Lessing Flynn, but also agency life as a whole.
Even after onboarding, adjusting to the workforce will take time. It’s much different than the classroom! In college, we are taught before we are expected to perform, but in the world of advertising, sometimes you have to jump right in!
I can still be hard on myself when I come across a task that I don’t know how to complete. But let’s be realistic: When we admit we don’t know something, we’re giving ourselves not only grace, but also an opportunity to learn.
You won’t be the only one who’s learning. From project managers to the leadership team, everyone at LF is always actively seeking and sharing opportunities. From hosted lunch-and-learn sessions to show-and-tell presentations, there’s always time to learn a new skill or insight.
Letting yourself learn can be daunting, but it’s powerful in the long run. Before my Iowa marketing internship experience, I had no clue what a long-tail keyword was or how to pick them out until our SEO aficionado trained me. But now, I love SEO, and better yet, it’s on my resumé!
Learning and questioning are part of the process. Superiors are more-than-willing to answer questions — even when you feel like they’re trivial. So, I beg you: If you find yourself in a similar atmosphere, ask away! Such an open and ever-changing environment has impacted my learning beyond words and has built on both my confidence and skill-set.
Step 4: Believe in the work that you’re doing.
Confidence may not come the easiest to you, especially if you’re one of the youngest in the office. If you’re an introverted perfectionist like me, it can take some time to be truly proud of your work.
Start by taking some time each week to think about the projects you completed and reflect on your efforts as objectively as possible. You will make errors here and there, but that’s ok. Can you guess who else slips up sometimes? Literally everyone. It happens no matter how much experience someone has. The key is to not get married to your work. In advertising, everything is subjective. As long as you pay attention, learn from past experiences and do your best work, you have a lot to be proud of. Remaining your biggest advocate while also being open to critique is the key balance in this line of work. And if you need external validation, ask your supervisors how you’re doing — they know this internship means a lot to you.
Apply for everything, dress for success, let yourself learn and believe in your work! With hard work, you can land your dream Iowa marketing internship, or nearly any internship you set your sights on.
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