Advice for potential interns

It’s that time of year again.  The e-mails are beginning to flood the office from students looking for spring internships. We will take 4-6 interns. Over 100 will apply. What can you do to insure that you get one of the spots? I’ll provide a few tips. I’ve given many of these before, so hopefully this isn’t news to you.

Hire a proofreader

I can’t tell you how many people have typos in their resume or in their work. A famous typo that I pointed out to a student was for a ‘pro-bono’ campaign to support low-income young women who need interview clothes.  Now remember, the woman who created this campaign had looked at the headline for one of her ads 1000s of times. And this ad is targeted at other women.  Yet she failed to notice that the work ‘count’ was missing a letter. And trust me, she didn’t do it on purpose. When I asked her about it, I thought she would crawl under my sofa and hide.

Another time I was meeting with a candidate who had spelled the name of two agencies incorrectly.  He worked a McAnn Worldwide and Sattchi & Sattchi. Since he was a copywriter, it made me wonder if he really ever worked at either. Good thing he never worked at Gray. (Which in case you don’t know is spelled Grey.)

Know something about your audience

Who are you meeting? What do they do? What do they like? What type of work do they do? You can find lots of information about the people you’re scheduled to meet. ALWAYS ask, “Who will I be meeting with today?” Never accept – “You’ll be meeting with members of our creative department.” That’s too wide open. Try to get their names and titles.  I think it’s quite fair for you to ask why you’re meeting them. Do they have a similar job title? Do they come from the same school? Or do they just have down time?  Virtually everyone in the world has some form of online presence. It’s very easy to find out something about everyone.  One other thing,  don’t use a ‘familiar’ short version of someone’s name. There are plenty of Roberts who don’t like Bob. Christopher is not automatically Chris. Elizabeth is not always Liz or Betty or Betsy. Someone once called my Rick Levy.  I’m not a Rick. I’ve never been called Rick. Its best not to get your audience angry before you begin.

Write an interesting e-mail

If you want a creative position, perhaps a good way to start is with an interesting introduction. Write an e-mail like you’re trying to get a response. Don’t take the easy way out. Spend time crafting it. Show it to people. Proofread it. Revise it. Send it to one person and see how they react before you send it out to hundreds. Test and optimize. Make it personal. Don’t use the exact same e-mail for different people in the same organization. Yes, we forward e-mails to each other. If its cookie-cutter, you lose points.  Be creative. Don’t suck.

Ask your college professors to make an introduction for you

There’s a very good chance the people teaching you know a lot of people in the industry. If they like you, they will happily introduce you to a lot of their friends. It’s helpful for you. It’s good for them.  I hired someone recently simply because their college professor (who I knew) told me I’d be an idiot not to. I trusted his judgment. And he was right. This guy was amazing. I hired him. He’s been great.  Use your network. Use their network.  It’s far better than a cold call.

Have great work in your portfolio

I know this seems obvious.  But if want a job, make sure your work is really tight. Make sure the art direction is fresh and unique. Make sure you know the difference between and idea and an execution. If you’re still working on your portfolio – don’t waste anyone’s time going on an interview. You’re not ready. Again, your college professors need to give you some tough love.  Don’t let them be nice. Ask them to be brutal. Ask them if they’d hire you. Hopefully, they say yes.

Good luck. I start meeting people next week. My fingers are crossed.









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