First Internship? Here’s How to Make Your Mark.
Hello future intern! Welcome potential fellow! Whatever your new title may be, let me be one of the first to extend my congratulations on securing this exciting opportunity — one that may be the beginning of your professional work life.
I can almost guarantee you’re a bundle of nerves and excitement and jam-packed with questions about your new role. Many people started their now illustrious careers right where you are, so you’re definitely in the right place. In fact, many of our employees here at Clyde Group are fellows turned full-timers.
As you’re getting started in this new role, it’s important to look at your first internship as an amazing opportunity to learn, network, and hone in on what interests you. Keep in mind your new team is there to support you and help you along the way. Most teams have a mutualistic relationship — we all help each other succeed. Fellows and interns are integral to any agency and client team, but there is more to being a fellow than meets the eye.
To help you start your internship on the right foot, check out this list of tried and true best practices.
Offer to take notes on calls and send them to your team lead after — volunteer for projects when you have time. Not only will you learn the ins and outs of an account, but this approach also highlights your necessity as a team member. Ultimately, finding areas where you can help other people with their work makes you a more integral part of the team.
When you have questions, ask; ask the person who assigned you the task, ask other members of your team, or even ask the internet. The better you understand a project before you start, the less likely you will be stressed doing it, and more likely you will create a strong product. The more cohesive and aligned your work is with client goals, the more likely your team will ask you to engage on larger projects.
As an intern, you aren't typically pigeonholed into a single account or only one task. That being said, you might have some tasks you enjoy doing more than others or not want much change. It’s important to remain flexible. Other teams might need your help with tasks, and who knows? It might just be your new favorite area to focus on.
When I’ve spoken with interns starting their jobs, I’m always asked the same question, “what do I wear?” If you’re working remotely, present yourself as put-together on top. Try to avoid hoodies on zoom calls or looking like you just rolled out of bed (even if you just did).
Now, if you’re in a hybrid setting or going into the office, dress in business casual attire or business attire if you are attending a client meeting. You are representing the company and yourself, too, so appearances matter. Also, it can send the signal that you take yourself and your work seriously. Pro Tip: Commuting in heels and dress shoes is never a good time. Wear comfy commuting shoes and change when you get to the office. Painful feet are not worth the aesthetic of “looking cute” on your way to the office.
Embrace Grunt Work
I won’t be the first, or last, to say that grunt work can be dull. But basic research projects and frameworks for social media posts aren’t just repetitive work — they’re an opportunity to immerse yourself in client work and show off your skills. Share some “food for thought” questions with your supervisor or list interesting insights you discovered. Folks reviewing your work may say no to your edits and additions, but this proactive approach helps reveal your willingness to engage, and you might get assigned more rewarding projects in the future.
As an intern, you are a newbie. I know that’s tough because you want to prove yourself, but use it to your advantage. Ask lots of questions, sit in on internal meetings, and network with people in the office over a cup of coffee. Met someone who is doing what you want to do? Message them on LinkedIn for career advice and grow your network. Use your current experience level to your advantage and learn all you can from others. People are more likely to help out because they had to start somewhere too, and we all see a little of ourselves in interns.
Finally, and most importantly, find balance. Having a fellowship while trying to juggle classes and a social life can be draining. Clyde's own full-timer and former fellow Veronica Yaron says,
“Don't burn yourself out. You might find yourself so busy trying to prove yourself that you end up stretched thin, with nothing left to give. A fellowship is a great way to learn how to find balance for the rest of your career.”Vernoica Yaron, Assistant Account Executive
Veronica’s right. Take time for yourself, your family, and your friends. Let your supervisors know when you’ve overextended. They’re here for you and will help you when you feel overwhelmed or bogged down. Finding this balance and learning how you like to manage your time will help you decrease stress and avoid burnout in the long run.
At the end of the day, you get out of your fellowship what you put in. So enjoy the role, have a little fun, lean on your team for support, and take time to reflect on your learnings and what you really enjoyed working on. Your fellowship will be over before you know it.