Don’t be afraid of unpaid opportunities
If you look at an unpaid marketing internship as a financial investment in your future, you will be satisfied with the return. I understand that unpaid internships are not right for everyone. Many potential interns have financial obligations that make such an opportunity unfeasible. However, if you can swing a part-time unpaid marketing internship along with school and a job, go for it! The opportunity cost forgone of working a paid job or internship can be made up with the knowledge and preparation you will receive through a valuable unpaid opportunity.
I had both unpaid and paid internships during college, and my unpaid internship was by far the most rewarding. Many unpaid opportunities come from small businesses that may not have the financial resources to compensate their interns. However, working and learning with a small team can often be more rewarding and hands-on than being a paid intern at a large company and getting lost in the corporate shuffle. So, next time you are browsing opportunities and see “unpaid”, think before you scroll.
Don’t be scared to turn down the wrong opportunity
There seems to be a point in every college student’s career, usually during junior or senior year, where there is a mad rush to gain experience before being thrown into the “real world” upon graduation. During this period, the pressure of gaining experience can outweigh the desire of learning from a company you love. This causes many students settle for internships that stunt their growth as a marketing professional.
At Purple Moon Media, our goal for interns is not to maximize work output, it is to prepare them as a professional in the search marketing industry. We want interns to learn as much as possible during their time at Purple Moon Media and at the end of that time, we want to get them a job in the industry. If you are interviewing for a marketing internship and do not feel that the employer is passionate about improving your skills as a professional and making you more attractive upon hitting the job market, you might want to reconsider that job offer.
Don’t try to be the smartest person in the room
Now that you have accepted the right internship opportunity, it’s time to get started! The main purpose of your marketing internship is to LEARN. Unfortunately, I have seen too many interns make the mistake of being overconfident with their industry knowledge. When an unfamiliar question is asked or task assigned, reserving questions in order to illustrate perceived knowledge hurts an intern’s development.
Any decent search marketing professional hires interns in order to teach them. We don’t expect you to be an expert, we hired you specifically because you are NOT an expert, and we love teaching! Trying to impress a senior member of your team can stunt your growth as a professional. Taking the initiative to take on a marketing internship as a college student has already impressed us so don’t worry! Just relax, ask questions, and enjoy the ride.
Become a sponge
No, not literally. Soaking up all of the knowledge being passed around in a workplace is important to an intern’s development as a search marketing professional. A majority of learning opportunities come from listening to experienced members of the search industry in action. Some of these opportunities occur in situations in which you may end up saying nothing at all. I have sat in on conference calls, meetings, brainstorming sessions, and workshops where I simply sat back and observed. Often, these instances ended up being important for my growth as a marketer. These experiences can be the most valuable of your marketing internship so sit back, listen, observe, and take notes.
Read. Read. Read.
With so many great search marketing blogs available, you should never have an excuse for not learning during every moment of your internship. In the fast-paced world of search marketing, there may be times when you find yourself without an assignment and some extra time on your hands. This isn’t time to play solitaire, its time when you should continue learning. Read blogs such as SearchEngineJournal.com, SearchEngineWatch.com, and SearchEngineLand.com to keep up with the latest industry news. Listen to SEO podcasts such as SEO Rockstars or The SearchFellas Podcast for professional insight on search marketing tactics and topics.
Support your fellow interns
A marketing internship is a learning opportunity to prepare you for the industry in which you are working in, not a race against co-interns to fill the next available full-time position. Be kind, create relationships, and share knowledge with other interns that you work with. As a professional in the industry, I am more excited when I see an intern teaching peers about a topic than when I see that an intern is the first to finish a project. In digital marketing, fitting a company’s culture is a huge factor in the hiring process. Supporting the people that you work with during your internship will help get you noticed and make you an attractive hiring candidate. Remember, these are the people that will be working in your industry, and together you are the future of the search marketing industry.
At Purple Moon Media, our interns are a key part of operations. They do not get coffee. They help with the everyday operations that keep our business going. We learn just as much from our interns as they learn from us. If you are seeking a marketing internship, a current intern looking for advice, or just want to chat, feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.