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8 crucial skills I learnt on-the-job that they don’t teach you at university

Article and imagery by Jordan Zadro, Zadro Communications Intern

I was coming towards the end of my degree and decided to gain some insight into what the world of Marketing had in store for me. Luckily, I was fortunate enough to be offered an internship at Zadro Agency to gain some vital experience – however, there were some significant differences between the workplace and my time studying a Bachelor of Commerce, with a major in Marketing, at Macquarie University.

Here are the practical skills I learnt at Zadro that studying doesn’t prepare you for and why you should consider interning before joining the workforce.

  1. Professionalism
    Working in a ‘group’ for an assignment is much more informal than working in a ‘team’ in a professional environment. I was able to meet and greet clients, as well as sit in on meetings. This requires the need to be upstanding while representing an organisation where more is at stake than your assignment mark.
  2. Pragmatism
    On any given day, I could be given several vastly different jobs to do. It is important to remember that not everything is straightforward and requires your own touch and interpretation. If you were to dwell on a single project all day, nothing would get done!
    Fortunately, I had the support of peers and mentors at Zadro to guide me through and produce work efficiently.
  3. Creativity
    In the marketing and communications industry, you NEED to keep things fresh and exciting. Industries move fast, and your content needs to keep up. Unfortunately, all the theory in the world at university doesn’t help you stay innovative – but research does.
  4. Individuality
    Your employers will likely hire you for what you bring to the table – make sure yo keep that uniqueness in your work! By injecting personality in your writing, your audience will feel you’re more relatable than any other faceless brand.
  5. Prioritising tasks
    Some days, I may have one big job to complete and sometimes I could be given multiple different projects to do. You need to have the discipline and organisational skills to focus on the tasks which have the shortest deadlines and greatest importance. Fortunately, Zadro is excellent at pushing me in the right direction.
  6. Humility
    It’s a strange feeling completing high school, becoming an adult, gaining a wealth of knowledge at university, only to then realise you have SO much more to learn. It is crucial you show up to your internship with an open-minded attitude, ready to soak in as much as possible from people who have been doing it for decades.
  7. Implementing feedback
    Furthermore, once you have been given advice you must put it to good use. At university, you generally only receive feedback once you’ve completed the project. However, in the workplace, it is common to undergo four or five edits for each task to ensure you are always producing work at the highest quality.
  8. Tools
    Finally, this is the one which I found the biggest culture shock. Every communications company uses multiple social media scheduling tools, customer relationship management (CRM) tools and databases – yet its hardly spoken about while studying. Keep up with updates and new tech to make yourself as employable as possible!

In hindsight, I’m glad I chose to take the time to intern at Zadro as the practical experience I’ve learnt has benefitted me considerably. I’d advise young professionals to heavily consider growing your personal profile with an internship experience ASAP. Good luck!

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