Coffee, printing and papercuts: an intern’s perspective

I was fresh out of college, branded with my new degree, and very unsure of what my next step would be. So, I did what many marketing graduates do (or have to do) and started looking around for an internship, honing my printing skills, and finding the best way to carry ten cups of coffee at a time.

I am now in my fifth month of interning at Yellow Door Collective and if I was to sit down and pep talk past-Simon with some pointers I think it would have gone a long way in avoiding countless CV version/ updates, some minor second-degree burns, and many paper-cuts.

So, here are the six things I wish I had known going into my internship.

You will do much more than fetch coffee

The stereotypical intern experience seems to be going on coffee runs, printing mountains of documents and being consumed by mountains of admin. My internship experience has been anything but that; I’ve haven’t ever been asked to get coffee or print a single page (yet). In an agency like ours you will work and collaborate with creative minds, write blog posts, manage social media accounts, draft a communication strategies and much more.

It’s as worth it as you want it to be

If you want to get the most out of the experience, then you have to work at it. The trick is to not feel like you’re an intern and rather treat every task get like it’s up to you to make happen.

Never forget that your thoughts and ideas are a new perspective for the company you are working for. You are young, your brain is fresh, and you will bring a whole lot of new and exciting things to the table, so back yourself.

Embrace mistakes

It’s why you are an intern right? You are working to learn and learning to work. You should look at it as your first move into game where you don’t know the rules yet, at first you are going to look around you every role of the dice, but after a while you’ll be scheming, strategising and working your way to the top of the leader board. You are also not the only person who will make mistakes so learn from other people’s mistakes too and you’ll climb in double time.

Build up an arsenal of skills

Anything from writing copy to designing awesome graphics, these skills are especially important as a marketing intern. You will also learn about some cool software as you go, so take note of what you enjoy working on and let your creative juices flow.

No question is a bad question (the first couple times)

Looking stupid in the moment is totally normal, as long as it makes you wiser further down the line. If you don’t know or you’re not sure, don’t be afraid to ask, but learn from what you ask. Make notes or jot down something that will jog your memory the next time, because asking the same question over and over doesn’t look very good.

Be completely transparent

There is nothing worse than feeling like you just aren’t good enough, so when your boss asks you how a task is coming along and you, drowning in paper-work, say “all good” then I can promise you that you are very unlikely to get the help you need.  If you’re not comfortable with something or have proactive suggestions and ideas, let the team or your superior know! You’ll definitely be respected for speaking up, asking for help, or offering to help with something else.

Helen Hayes perfectly summed this up when she said “The expert in anything was once a beginner”, so be humble in praise, accepting of criticism, and most of all, go into every encounter with an open mind wearing an optimistic smile.