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Why internships are so vital – a view from both sides

By Jessica McLean, Senior Account Coordinator

After six years of university, it’s safe to say that I did multiple internships to try and ‘crack’ into the industry. It was in 2015, that I got an internship that not only gave me my start but allowed me to flourish and grow my career.

It can be discouraging seeing entry level positions advertised with a ‘minimum of 15 months experience in a similar role’ – you ask yourself, how the heck do I get that while studying, working part-time and juggling a personal life. It’s a challenge. I was in my final year of my second degree when I got an internship at Zadro, at 25 I was more than ready for full-time work, I had done internships before, but it was all phone calls, coffee runs and made me question what I was going to do with my career. I was working part-time, studying full-time, worrying about making rent and stressing that doing additional study was a mistake; when I came across an internship advert for an integrated marketing and communications agency.

I didn’t know this at the time, but a few people who worked at Zadro had been hired from an internship; it was the best way showcase what you could do and if you fit with the team. That didn’t guarantee me a job but regardless I approached every opportunity with everything I had. It was the same for any internship I did, doing them wasn’t something I was doing for ‘free’ but a strategic move for my career, to give myself the edge on finding full-time work.

When I was asked to come into Zadro for an interview, I remember being so nervous because you can only prepare so much – what if they asked what I would bring that was different to everyone else – the worst question in an interview (I think so anyway), but the interview was different, it was more relaxed and more focused on what Zadro could offer me, and what I needed to get out of the internship to help me grow.

Within a week after the interview I was hired for the intern position of Communications Assistant. I was either at Uni, or work or Zadro every day of the week, it was exhausting but I wouldn’t have changed it. Zadro wanted me to experience everything that #agencylife offered, from writing editing, copywriting, to website and social media updates, I got to do it all with a really encouraging and welcoming group of people. Two days a week I got to get a glance of what my career might look like, if I worked in an agency I would get to work on lots of different clients, and be challenged. I gave it everything; taking every opportunity I was given, I listened to the critiques from the team, taking them as a personal challenge to get better. I learnt more in three months, than I had studying. By the end of my three months, I was sold.

I was sad to say goodbye to Zadro and the team, but knew they had given me a complete taste of what working in an agency would be like and made me sure of not only what I wanted in a job, but also sure of my abilities, so I started to search for a full-time position. It was then that Felicity, the Managing Director of Zadro called me; she said they had an opening for a Marketing and Admin Assistant if I was interested – completely 100% interested. It wasn’t the role I had imagined, but I made it my own, I continued to learn from the team, take every opportunity I was given and really worked hard. I have been at Zadro for almost 2 years and have been promoted twice and I’m really happy. I have worked on many different clients where no two jobs are the same, I get to work with great people and learn from the best.

Now I run the internship program for Zadro.

I interview potential interns and help develop the program to ensure that they get what they need from us to help them get a job. For Zadro, the benefit of having interns means that we get to have an extra sets of hands, as a smaller business, interns offer us valuable time and experience, but it’s also more knowledge, every intern that Zadro hires offers something unique to the team.

At Zadro the program includes a mix of:

• Account assistance to executives on campaigns e.g. marketing, PR, social media
• Idea contribution to marketing action plans
• Research in communications and marketing topics and content
• Database support; data entry
• Copywriting, proofing and editing
• Administration: answering phones, filing, OH&S, mail, office maintenance (cleanliness etc.)
• Meeting attendance
• Strategic planning and implementation

This mix aims to provide all interns a taste of what working in the marketing and communications industry is like. Interns are invited to write a blog and design a vector image (in the Zadro style) to go on the website with their by-line.

In my opinion, internships are a valuable part of a career pathway in such a competitive landscape. My top tip would be to make sure you find a business that values young professionals, like Zadro does, and that has a structured program of development, and most importantly give every opportunity 100% – you never know where your career starter might come from. Good luck!

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