There are many talented young professionals entering our industry, and we were lucky to have two of the best—Aspen Schopp and Brenna Finlay—join us this spring as interns. Throughout their internships, they explored working at a full-service PR and advertising agency and prepared for a professional communications career while contributing to real agency and client work. Before our time with Aspen came to a close, we asked her to share some key learnings about what a strong intern program looks like and how interns can best contribute at an agency.
It’s no secret that internships are a productive way to experience different companies, cultures, and jobs. As I wrap up my internship at Borshoff, I’ve identified what’s made me get so much out of the past six months here. I’ve found “green flags” that I now look for at other companies, realized the habits I should bring to my next workplace and learned that good people make a great workplace.
The Importance of Notes
If you can’t be the most talented or experienced person in the room, be the most dependable.
One of the most beneficial things I’ve learned is that good notes lead to better performance. It’s no guarantee you’ll remember every direction you’ve been given for a project or details that may lead to great ideas later – so be sure to capture those elements on paper. People will be impressed you’re paying attention, and you’ll have the details you need to contribute later. And doing this makes you much more present in a meeting.
The most noticeable “green flag” was Borshoff’s culture around questions. Every single person welcomed my questions, sometimes to the point of organizing an extra meeting to walk me through best practices processes or grabbing a coffee to recap a client meeting and how we planned to support a situation to make sure I understood. My learning is my own responsibility, but Borshoff’s culture made it easy and made people approachable.
I wrote down every single question I had during a meeting in the margins of my legal pad, asking things like, “How do you develop and price a scope of work?” and “How typical was that client meeting?” Not only did this help me understand the business better, but it also built relationships with my coworkers.
Help Your Colleagues, and They’ll Help You
Creating a work environment that welcomes curiosity and learning is contagious. Instead of competing, my fellow intern and I extended that desire to help each other. From small tasks like proofreading social posts and internal marketing copy, to tackling week-long projects with a lot of detail and research, we had each other’s back and my internship was better for it. (Miss you, Brenna!)
Working with people I felt were actively rooting for me made me more confident to take risks. I trusted and respected their feedback more and wasn’t afraid to ask for help when I needed it. Even as I’m leaving, I’m reaping the benefits of this kind of culture. After “Extreme Makeover: Resume Edition,” I’ve gotten more responses and interviews because of the feedback multiple people at Borshoff gave me.
There’s a lot that goes into a great internship. Gaining experience on interesting work, having ownership of projects and networking are all valuable to your professional development. But an encouraging environment pushes the opportunity for growth to the next level.
Chances are if you’re successful, someone has invested time and energy into helping you get there. Your company will find a better intern by actively giving them opportunities and experiences they can’t find in a classroom. Often, a company’s input will equal the intern’s output.
If you’re trying to create an excellent internship experience, don’t forget the most important “green flag” – the people at your company.