As the SEO intern coordinator at IMI, I’ve had the opportunity to see numerous young professionals make truly impressive strides in their personal and professional development. Running the internship program is a really rewarding part of my job, and I love seeing students (or recent grads) discover a passion for digital marketing, and blossom into strong professionals in the field. However, on occasion, we also have a few candidates who apply for the program with good intentions, but may not truly understand what the commitment entails, or what the various disciplines of digital marketing are all about.
In writing this article, I wanted to address both the expectations a new intern can have for themselves and their hosting agency, as well as the proper mindset to approach this experience with. A digital marketing internship is a great way to test the waters and see if this career is right for you, but it also requires a certain mindset to make the most of your time as a digital marketing intern.
Don’t Worry About What You Don’t Know
Internships at our agency are unpaid (for class credit only) and therefore we don’t expect you to bring any particular skills or experience with you. So don’t worry if you don’t know much, or haven’t done any type of online marketing activities before. What we do hope to see is a strong enthusiasm for learning, and some kind of personal interest in the online world. If you do have prior experience that is relevant, by all means mention it, but it is most definitely not a requirement at this stage.
Don’t Think You Know it All
We get a lot of college seniors applying for our internships, many of whom are marketing majors. These students can sometimes be a little surprised to find out that not all of what they learned in their college courses will help them at a digital marketing agency. To say that universities are 10 years behind the times might be an insult to those who were doing SEO in 2005. And don’t get me wrong, it’s certainly valuable to keep those traditional marketing principals in mind for digital campaigns, but there is also a lot more to learn in terms of the digital implementation of those principals.
Pick a Concentration…. But Stay Open Minded
Interns at IMI (and many other agencies) apply for placement in a single department, the department you choose will dictate not only who you’ll work with, but the tasks and subjects you’ll be focusing on. Interns can choose from disciplines like SEO, Paid Search, Social Media, or Creative. So while it’s not necessary to learn specific tactics or strategies beforehand, it’s a really good idea to take some time to get a solid understanding about what each department does, so that you can make an educated decision about where to apply.
For example, you might enjoy connecting to friends through Facebook & Twitter, and even get a thrill from seeing your posts accumulate likes or retweets. In that case, maybe social media is a good choice for you. Or do you enjoy looking deep into data to find patterns and insights? Perhaps analytics would be the best choice. Whichever department you choose, keep in mind that there will be ample opportunity for cross-departmental trainings with every department at most agencies.
This Isn’t School
Hopefully you have chosen an internship in a field that you enjoy, and you are not simply doing it to fulfill graduation requirements. Keep in mind that the people you interact with during your internship are not teachers or parents. At IMI, you will be surrounded with self-motivated professionals that hold themselves to a very high standard of work, and they will expect you to do the same. It will be up to you to rise to the occasion, and get all that you can out of the opportunity.
More than Skills
During your internship, you will have the opportunity to learn many things. In addition to practicing the everyday skills that we use as digital marketers- you will see how an agency operates, how departments interact to get a project completed, and the culture that surrounds the company. The things you will learn from seeing the real-world scenarios, and solving the challenges that you’ll encounter during an internship are impossible to teach in a class room. So choose wisely, and make the most of your opportunity as a digital marketing intern.
If you are interested in an internship at IMI, please visit our internship opportunities page.