Intro to Mastering the Art of the Internship
by Dave Thompson
With the official start of fall comes new beginnings and insightful reflections. As a recent Strategy Intern turned Junior Strategist, Soulsight’s very own Dave Thompson put together a syllabus that outlines how to get an A in the most important course of your career to date: The Internship.
Syllabus: Fall Semester 2019
At the end of this short course, you will have a strong understanding of the multi-faceted role that’s in short supply and intense demand: The Internship. This course provides an overview of the daily happenings within the office, the keys to success as an intern and how to embrace the transition to adulthood.
Jargon Pop Quizzes: Multiple times a day, you will be quizzed on marketing jargon. This will require careful listening as you are brought into meetings and expected to pick up an entirely new vocabulary on the fly. Examples include terms such as, but not limited to: EOD, WIP and ALT. Note: most of these terms have not been taught in school, and usually are not Google-able. Use of context clues and attentive note-taking is key.
Content Creation: As you put pen to paper, be ready for some curveballs. That’s right, just like the kind you first saw at your 7th grade baseball game – it’s likely to leave you feeling confused, shocked and frustrated. But just like baseball, curveballs are part of the branding game and you eventually learn to hit it out of the park. Learning to keep swinging makes an eventual home run that much better.
Screening Your Ideas: You will develop clever brand names, supporting copy and taglines that are seemingly brilliant. Check your ego at the door and get ready for a fun exercise: U.S. Trademark Office and Urban Dictionary screening. One search is usually all it takes to realize that most of your ideas are either a) trademarked by another company and unusable or b) have an inappropriate definition you didn’t know existed. Smile and enjoy the challenge.
(Unexcused absences will not be tolerated)
Lesson 1: Showing Gratitude
It all starts with gratitude – a highly underrated part of the beginning of an internship. This lesson will immerse you in the realization that you are 22 or 23 years old and have no real experience. You’ll come to understand that the company is taking a chance on you and giving you an opportunity to grow and succeed. Once that notion is understood, the idea of boring or remedial tasks vanishes and is replaced with motivation to use every small opportunity to impress.
Lesson 2: Exuding Enthusiasm
Enthusiasm is easily the number one thing that gets an intern noticed. And even better, it’s something everyone can control. This lesson will show you the power of bringing positive energy into the room – it’s truly infectious and will affect the atmosphere around you. Key tactics involve learning how to demonstrate genuine excitement for your work, approaching assignments with a “yes attitude” and training yourself to see opportunities rather than obstacles.
Lesson 3: Powering Through with Productivity
The key to productivity is to never stop moving. You will learn the value of always being on task and working hard from the moment you walk in the office. This involves tackling the work you’ve been assigned as well as creating or seeking out assignments for yourself when your workload is lighter. This approach will make your day feel much shorter, while ensuring you stand out as a true teammate. This lesson addresses the question, “Who wouldn’t want to hire someone who is always adding value?”
Lesson 4: Being Humble
Humility is realizing that you don’t know what you don’t know – and that’s okay! You will be challenged to look back at yourself 5 years ago, and 5 years before that, to realize the power of experience. This realization should push you to learn as much as you can from every project and every person who’s been doing it longer than you. Your goal should be to ask questions – this shows others that you are engaged, interested in what they are saying and actively thinking of solutions. These practices inevitably lead to the best solutions and leaders recognize that; it also helps ensure others learn your name, and can lead to earning more significant responsibilities.
Lesson 5: Guest Lecture with Dave Thompson
Sharing his perspective on “Mastering the Internship” is Dave Thompson, Junior Strategist and former Strategy Intern at Soulsight. As a pre-read to Dave’s lecture, see a word from Dave below:
“When friends heard I landed an internship in Chicago, they assumed I must be living a life of luxury. I won’t lie, the perks were incredible— learning from experts in their fields, getting exposed to projects for iconic brands and meeting awesome new people you actually enjoy spending your day with. But, with enormous opportunity comes challenges. There will be tasks that will test you. There will be days when you’re tired – really tired. And it may not always be sunshine and rainbows. But you get out as much as you put in. And if you put in your best, the result is very rewarding.”
Whether you’re just starting out in your career, making a change or striving toward the next milestone, taking a moment to reflect on mastering the art of being your best self can make a tremendous impact.
Soulsight is a Chicago-based iconic brand design agency. Our mission is to propel brands to unlimited success through strategic design that drives consistent relevancy. We are known for delivering inspiring, category-leading creative and insights-driven strategic guidance for some of the world's best-loved iconic, global brands. We're a team of 60 multi-disciplined, strategic creatives who believe in the power of consumer-centric, design-driven branding. We build Soulful brands through strategic design. We are Soulsight.