Updated By: Katie McClain on Wed, Dec 14, 2016
The work doesn’t end after you get the “You’ve been accepted!” email. Prepare yourself for your marketing internship and realize that you have a lot to learn. This is the turning point where all of that hard work and effort you put into getting your internship seems easy in comparison to what happens next.
At first it seems like WAY too much information and that there is no possible way that you will remember everything that’s being thrown at you. I was completely overwhelmed by the first week of my internship because it became apparent to me that I had learned only a fraction of what I was being trained in while in college. I assured myself everything was going to be fine and reminded myself internships are made for learning. I had to trust the process!
The first lesson I learned was that no one expects you to already know everything about your marketing internship. When you realize there is no possible way you already know everything that is expected of your position, the easier your marketing internship becomes. Learning the ins and outs of your internship is crucial for your success. It seems like a lot of instructions, but there are ways to learn it all if you’re willing to put in the effort.
Take detailed notes while being trained in and given instruction. Bullet points are fine initially, but you might not have an idea of what your notes mean if you don’t put in the effort to fill in the blanks later. Ask your coworker to slow down for you to take notes; they’ll understand. You’ll be happy you have those notes when you have to replicate a task without supervision down the road.
Next, ask questions! I asked one of my coworkers every time I had a question. I’m usually a pretty good question-asker, but I also am a “learn-by-doing” learner. I had to teach myself to ask before doing, and everyone at my internship wanted me to succeed, so asking them questions wasn't a big deal. Taking clear notes and asking good questions are the first steps to success in your internship.
Sharpen Your Skills
Remember those skills you said you had in your initial interview? Time to put them to use! Time management and planning are my personal favorite skills I possess. I have always been good at time management but had trouble meeting my goals every day when I was first being trained. I was new and had to learn my way around HubSpot and Hootsuite, but as time went on, I got better at knowing how to divvy up my tasks.
Another skill I thought I rocked at was creativity. You think you’re really creative and have excellent ideas until you are staring at a blank text box being forced to write something eye-catching on the spot. Creating content people want to read is difficult. You can’t always assume your target audience is going to respond as you would when you read a title and decide to click. I had to open up my mind to what others would want, how I could rephrase information I wanted to convey, and find ways I could spice up my regular vocabulary. Doing this improved both myself and my work. The theme of putting forth the effort and it paying off continues on, because you will never be the best if you don’t put in the time and try to be the best.
Being In a New Culture
Not going to lie, my perception of what inbound marketing was changed completely since when I started my marketing internship. I hadn’t the slightest idea of all the websites I would be using and the process of implementing a social strategy. Not only that, but there was actually a team I would get to work with instead of working solo. It was great knowing I could turn to anyone and ask a question, but also intimidating. Unless you’re part of a new business, everyone in your workplace will already have relationships and connections that have been formed over the years. Everyone knows each other from the music they like to what their cats names are.
I am usually social and often times talk more than I should. But for the first time, talking and fitting in was hard for me. My coworkers already had built a culture and had personalities and knew how to flow with each other. Being an intern kind of makes you feel out of place and underqualified to be where you are. Stop yourself if you catch yourself thinking you aren’t good enough to be in the position you're in because you don’t know as much as your coworkers. They work there; you don’t. They have been there for WAY longer than you and have careers based on their talents and experience.
Don’t beat yourself up because you aren’t a pro at their culture. Instead, decide to learn their culture! Talk to people at your internship whenever possible and get to know who they are and what they are about. Learning the culture will help you out in the future by preparing yourself for what you will need to know and how you will behave at a future place of employment. Take it all in and don’t let yourself be intimidated. Make everything a learning experience while fully utilizing your internship opportunity.
The Balance Between my
Marketing Internship & College
An ongoing struggle for me was finding balance between college and my marketing internship. Knowing when to switch gears from internship to school work was where I had trouble. Many people have troubles with work-life balance and you too will run into the difficulty of separating work from play. I wanted to always be doing my internship and the temptation was constantly there when you’re a digital media intern. All you have to do is click a tab and before you know it, you’re back on your client's Twitter, Facebook, or Pinterest.
You need to draw the line between your internship and your free time. Though it may be tempting to check your work email every hour or make a quick post on an idea you just created, you can’t always be working. Enjoy your free time! Don’t just work on projects outside of your internship. See your friends, focus on your studies, and turn off the part of your brain that keeps coming up with ideas for your internship when you aren’t at work.
It wasn’t as hard for me to switch off from college to my internship. Personally, I found my internship far more interesting than my college textbooks. However, you can’t start slacking in college once you have an internship. You still have projects and essays and your GPA will not pause where it’s at so you can focus on your internship. Don’t procrastinate in your classes or other priorities by doing too much extra work for your side gig. Write down your ideas as they come to you and then work on them if you can make time while you’re actually at your internship. Dividing up your free time from your internship work will make you less stressed and allow you to focus on your current task.
Whatever you choose to do with your time in your internship, it is essential to take away some lesson from your experience. There is always something to be learned every day from your internship. You don’t have to learn something elaborate every day, just keep an eye out for the little things you can learn and use in the future. Remember any new tactics, skills, ways of communicating, and ways of thinking that you find on the road through your internship.