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What makes a good advertising intern?

  1. WHAT MAKES A GOOD INTERN? Prepared by: Brendan Watson Contributors: Heidi Ehlers, Siobhan Dempsey, Dale Roberts, Andrew Shortt, Jamie Lirette, Chris Taciuk, Wade Hesson, David Houghton, Tom Beakbane, Paul Wallace, Arthur Shah, David Rosenberg, Tony Miller, Gary Rudson, Brent Choi, Suzanne Pope, Hayes Steinberg, David Smith, Ron Tite, Joe MusiccoCHOCOLATE MICROSCOPE DECEMBER 2009
  2. CHOCOLATE MICROSCOPE BLOG UPDATES 2 Over two hundred years of collective experience has gone into this document. Those who contributed are not only talented individuals with a wealth of knowledge, but also compassionate professionals who remember what it's like to be a student. They've all taken time out of their already overtaxed schedules to share a lesson based on their own personal experience. Everyone was asked one simple question: What makes a good intern? Despite being so open-ended, the question yielded many common themes. Passion for the business, a positive attitude and an amazing work ethic were mentioned a number of times. Enthusiasm was also highlighted often, as was - hmm - proper hygiene. Each and every contributor was brutally honest and candid. Anyone who reads this revealing document owes them a huge debt of gratitude. BRENDAN WATSON Art Director/Instructor, Y&R/Humber College FORWARD
  3. CHOCOLATE MICROSCOPE BLOG UPDATES 3 Brendan Watson asked me on your behalf to write a piece of what makes a Good Intern. I told Brendan I’d prefer to write a piece on what makes a GREAT intern. Because, if the common belief that “Good is the enemy of Great” holds true for interns, then let’s shoot for the moon. I assume that anyone reading this, wants to shoot for the moon – to be the absolute best. Your pursuit of being the absolute best begins with your first job – that, of an intern. 1. A great intern loves the business they are in, and cannot believe they are about to embark on a career in creativity. Pinch me, right? Loving this business, means more than telling people you love this business. Loving this business means studying this business. By allowing yourself to be so moved by the power of creativity, that you seek it out like a drug. You observe it, you deconstruct it, you devour it, you watch it frame by frame, you go back more than once. You love it. 2. A great intern never does what is asked of them. They do more. They don’t sit around in their office waiting for assignments to be brought to them. They ask for them. If there are no assignments, they just do stuff. They tidy up. They ask the assistants if they can assist them. They just get coffee. You’re in a service business now, and learning how to enjoy getting someone a cup of coffee and delighting them is your first lesson. Master it. It will serve you well in the future. 3. A great intern studies the work of the company. A great intern studies the work of the clients. A great intern reads all the clients’ websites. I mean every single word. A great intern takes the company reel home and watches it. A great intern googles all of their colleagues, so they know who they are working with. A great intern reads the company new business deck so they know what the company stands for. A great intern does not wait for anyone to provide these things. A great intern asks for it. If it isn’t provided, they find a way around it. A legal way. 4. A great intern stays late when they have to, but not just as a way of showing they’re a keener. If you have something that needs to get done, stay. If there is no reason to stay, leave. You don’t win any points for the number of hours you are there, only for the importance of your contribution during those hours. 5. A great intern realizes that there is no such thing as a bad agency to have their internship at. Every single agency on the planet can teach you something. Every great Creative Director on the planet will tell you that every job they've had taught them something. There is much to be learned that you don't currently know, and you will learn it. If you have the right attitude. Now here's a little secret. What makes a great intern is exactly the same as what makes a great creative regardless of their level of seniority. With the exception of the fifth point. As your career progresses, you want to be more and more particular about why you're making the move you're making, because each move becomes more perilous. It gets more difficult to bounce back. However, if you practise the first four points your entire career, I can guarantee every success you can imagine. When you become a Creative Director (Congratulations!) please take out this piece of paper and read it again. At that time, I hope this little piece of paper will help define who you show up as every day. I hope it will help you to inspire your team to achieve the next level of success together; I hope it will help you earn your client's trust; I hope it will attract the best possible talent to your department, and I hope it will attract the best possible clients to your agency. More than anything this behaviour, will make you a professional. And professionals are always in demand. Heidi Ehlers Founder • BLACK BAG creative recuitment + career management INTRODUCTION
  4. CHOCOLATE MICROSCOPE BLOG UPDATES 4 It's hard and you may feel awkward, but don't hide yourself in your office. You have to get out there, be enthusiastic and ask if you can come to shoots, throw in some headlines on a project, etc. People are nice, but we're really busy, with a lot going on and we have to be reminded that you're here to help. A positive attitude. Hard working, willing to take on any project and take responsibility for that project. One who asks for work, or more work when they have some down time. Curious - they ask questions. Work ethic, willingness to learn, a thick skin and a lack of the entitled attitude that juniors seem to have these days. Siobhan Dempsey Associate CD, Ogilvy & Mather Dale Roberts Creative Director, 58Ninety Andrew Shortt Partner, Huxley Quayle von Bismark
  5. CHOCOLATE MICROSCOPE BLOG UPDATES 5 The willingness to go above and beyond for every project, no matter how small. The humility to know that they are starting at the bottom. The ability to contribute in a meaningful way. The need to learn. Potential. Someone who understands that imagination is limitless. Someone who understands that it’s their job to make everyone’s life ‘above’ them easier. Someone who wants that internship more than anyone else in the city. Someone who ‘wants’ to ‘keep’ learning. Someone who has ideas I couldn’t have come up with. Be hungry. Listen. Ask for more than you’re given. Deliver more than what you’ve been asked for. Be polite but not silent. Jamie Lirette Convergent Creative Director, Blitz Chris Taciuk Creative Director, Draft FCB Wade Hesson Creative Director, MacLaren McCann
  6. CHOCOLATE MICROSCOPE BLOG UPDATES 6 An internship is not a marathon, it’s a sprint. So be prepared to haul ass right from the start line. If you’re asked to present five ideas, present ten. If you’re asked to write five headlines, write a hundred. Show your enthusiasm and no one will ever concern themselves with your inexperience. With the right attitude, you can learn from every person in the agency, no matter what they do. Be a sponge. Keep a journal and write down what you learn every day. Be curious. Be passionate. Be ingenious. Genuine passion and enthusiasm. An intern with passion and enthusiasm helps lift everyone's spirits and energizes the organization. (Of course, selfless obedience also helps). Eagerness to learn. Hard working & easy going. Good attitude & good hygiene. They should be the first ones in the last ones out and make every senior person in the department nervous cause they're that good. David Houghton VP, Creative Director, Y&R Tom Beakbane President, Beakbane Marketing Paul Wallace Creative Director, DDB Arthur Shah Creative Director, Freelance
  7. CHOCOLATE MICROSCOPE BLOG UPDATES 7 The best intern I've ever seen was Randy Stein, when he did the job at Cossette. Randy was absolutely tenacious, but only in the most polite ways. He built bridges with the entire creative department. They sought his help on projects because he made himself not only available, but likeable. And then, he would do more than was asked of him. If the brief called for A, he delivered A, B, C, and D. Oh yeah, and P. All with a smile on his face. One other thing: he had boatloads of talent. The Intern Top 10 (in no particluar order): 1. Work as hard or harder than the most dedicated team in the agency. 2. Realize that this is their chance to land a full time gig in the business. 3. Will cheerfully work on any project, no matter how small or seemingly insignificant. 4. Are polite and presentable...they realize that this is a test-drive to see if they can be put in front of clients. 5. Have great ideas, ideas that make the existing teams nervous. 6. Take criticism well, go back, and come forth with more work. 7. Are students of the business: they know what's happening out there and are current. 8. Show a sense of understanding that this is a business, that our success is dependent on "selling". In other words, they show that they are capable of creating ads that taget a segment of the public, not other ad people. 9. They dress for success. 10. They show that they know what your agency has done and what it stands for. David Rosenberg Executive Creative Director, Bensimon Byrne Tony Miller Executive Creative Director, Anderson DDB
  8. CHOCOLATE MICROSCOPE BLOG UPDATES 8 Help out wherever you can…regardless of the job or task. Show you have a great attitude about working alongside fellow creative people and that you fit in well. Show your passion at all times. Learn everything you can about how the creative department interacts with all other divisions and with clients. Don’t get in the way or make work for the CD but try to have a mentor. It's pretty simple for me. The table stakes is a solid book of ideas with media neutral thinking. Then I would put "a great attitude" as a solid second. No chip on their shoulder and a genuine desire to learn and work hard. Included in that would be great energy and enthusiasm. Oh, body hygeine too. That would be first and foremost actually. A good intern realizes that, by landing an internship, he has landed nothing at all – nothing except an audition, a tryout with the team. Good interns constantly demonstrate humility and a willingness to learn. They work so hard and with such purpose that over the course of 3 months (or however long the gig lasts) one can see a definite increase in their ability as ad people. Those are the people who get invited to stay on as full-timers once the internship is over. Gary Rudson Recruiter, CHAD Management Brent Choi Chief Creative Officer, Cundari Suzanne Pope Creative Director, john st
  9. CHOCOLATE MICROSCOPE BLOG UPDATES 9 1. Hungry and polite in equal measure. 2. Present what you've been asked for. And then present a whole bunch of stuff you weren't asked for. 3. If you aren't busy, keep asking to get busy. 4. I'm all for work-life balance. But not for interns. As an intern you have a 3 month challenge to create opportunities for yourself that'll hopefully last for your entire career. Kill yourself to make that impression. A copywriter who can - will and likes writing long body copy. Well, it's more than cool shoes, a big belt buckle and a wrinkled T-shirt featuring an obscure pop cultural reference. A good intern knows that they're there to do one thing: Learn. A great intern knows that the way to accomplish this is to spend more time listening. They listen to the conversations around them. They listen to the conversations about them. They listen to the account people. To the production people. To the administrative people. They listen to feedback. They listen to phone calls. They listen at 6am, 8pm, and every opportunity in between. Because once you listen, you learn. And once you learn, you know. Hayes Steinberg Associate Creative Director, Bensimon Byrne David Smith VP, Partner, Mandrake Ron Tite Creative Director, Sharpe Blackmore
  10. CHOCOLATE MICROSCOPE BLOG UPDATES 10 Let's face it. Interning can be hard. The pay - if you get any at all - sucks, and there's no guarantee that you'll be employed at the end of it all. But here's why you should consider yourself lucky. The hardest job to get in advertising is your first one. Once you're in though, it gets quite a bit easier. If you've managed to get your foot in the door somewhere as an intern, you've accomplished something already. You've earned the opportunity to prove yourself to a prospective employer in a highly competitive profession. You're more than half way there. So the first thing you should do is count your blessings. The second thing you should do is work your ass off. Yes, it's practically indentured servitude, but you're going to have to suck it up for a while. If you find you love the business, it's a small price to pay. Besides, in advertising the hard work never really stops. At least if you're good at it. So you might as well start off on the right foot by developing a strong work ethic. Joe Musicco Associate Creative Director, Bensimon Byrne FINALWORD
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