Intern Week: Lessons From A Guy In The Trenches

March 27, 2012

EDITOR’S NOTE: It’s Intern Week on the Idea Peepshow. We’re talking internships — why they’re valuable, how to land them and how to make the most of them when you do. If you’re currently on the internship hunt, check out our Summer Internship Campaign. Today’s Intern Week post is from George Fiddler, a Fast Horse client relationship manager.

I interned at Fast Horse from January through June 2009 — and I’ve been here ever since. When Fast Horse hosts informational interviews or other gatherings, students often ask me what I did to land the internship and the key things I learned during my six months as an intern.

Here’s what I tell them:

Landing the internship. I quickly learned that Fast Horse wants people who wanted to work at Fast Horse. Duh, right? I bet every employer out there would say that they want candidates who want to work for them more than any other company. But not all candidates market themselves accordingly. I got past talking about my past internship experience and the things I learned in college and focused on why Fast Horse was the agency I wanted to work for.

I also didn’t give up. When an initial conversation didn’t lead to an immediate offer, I started blogging about trends and campaigns that were interesting to me. I sent links to Fast Horse employees as a way of following up. I also did my homework and put together “that little something extra” — which is required to land coveted marketing internships nowadays. I decided to send Fast Horse a few mock campaign one-pagers that showed some creativity.

This was all good, but as my colleague John Reinan frequently points out, my name is probably what sealed the deal. While my last name isn’t quite on par with Metta World Peace’s, “Let’s get Smith working on this” just doesn’t have the same ring to it as “Let’s get the Fiddler working on this.” So make sure your name can be used in this fashion and you’ll have a leg up on the competition*.

* not true

Key things I learned. Doing everything that is asked of you as an intern, doing it well, and having a good attitude along the way is very important and will be significant if you want to get hired on after the internship ends. I also think it’s just as important to do a good job on the work that you aren’t asked to do. Taking the initiative is key.

If you notice a new tool that you think the agency or a client could benefit from, go ahead and proactively write that idea up and present it to your supervisor. Don’t wait to be asked to research new tools. The fact that you took the initiative and presented an idea that could improve a campaign could very well be more memorable to your supervisor and boss than the idea itself.

Also don’t be afraid to ask questions. At the beginning of my internship, I was a bit reluctant to ask questions about things I thought interns should know. Curiosity and being vocal are good attributes that your colleagues will value. If you have any questions about my experience as a Fast Horse intern, feel free to leave them in the comment section or on the Fast Horse Experience.