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DMI Daily Digest

6 Ways to Maximize Your Digital Marketing Internship

There are hundreds of internships available in every imaginable job sector right now. While they are maligned in some quarters, they can be an important part of a career, particularly in industries where practical experience is a much clearer indication of aptitude than anything done in a classroom or college course.

But how do you get the most from an internship? And how do you bridge the gap between being an intern and becoming a full-time staff member?

1. Play Your Part

It is important from the outset to understand that while there is, in fact, a gap between interns and full-time staff, nobody will be expecting you to be silent.

Hannah Mae, an editor with fashion and lifestyle site The Chriselle Factor, writes that she was able to turn an internship into a job. Beyond the usual blood, sweat and tears, she says her voice was her biggest weapon.

I was lucky enough to be a part of a small team, so I was able to sit in on and contribute to some content meetings. Being able to have a creative voice and not just be ‘the intern’ was a great way for everyone to get to know me and to prove what I could do.

If you’re interning somewhere where that’s not possible, still be sure to make yourself known. It’s so easy to fall through the cracks. Try to get to know and network with as many people as possible.

If you don’t accept that you are “just an intern”, you will be treated as just an intern. But if you see yourself as part of the team, you’ll be treated as part of the team.

This includes seeking out work. Ryan Kahn, a career coach, founder of The Hired Group, and author of "Hired! The Guide for the Recent Grad” says that most internships will gradually get more intense for those who actively look for the work.

"Not all companies have a structured training program or welcome receptions for new interns — so be ready to roll up your sleeves and find opportunities to contribute."

2. Set Your Goals

While we can accept that the goal is to turn the internship is to turn the internship into a paying, full-time job, that goal can be vague and not targeted.

It’s important to ask yourself when taking an internship what progress looks like. To that end, set yourself weekly goals – to get into a certain meeting, participate in a certain project or speak with a key decision maker.

Lauren Boyd, People Operations Manager of Seer, says that making those goals printed and public can help you stick to them.

I'd recommend writing down your goals and sharing them with your manager/teammates. Accountability is crucial so, putting your goals in writing makes them ‘real’ and increases the likelihood that you’ll achieve them.

“In fact, former Seer Interns, Greta Hartsell and Gaby Rodier, created an entire Goals-Tracking doc and shared it with their respective mentors. By the end of the semester, they had built an extremely compelling case for why they should be hired full-time.”

One hiring manager says that seeing an intern with specific goals is someone who shows “transferable skills”.

“You know that an intern with a goal sheet is someone who will do that in a full-time job and is someone who has taken the time to get to know your company.

“You can teach the skills of the job, but you can’t teach initiative.”

“In fact, former Seer Interns, Greta Hartsell and Gaby Rodier, created an entire Goals-Tracking doc and shared it with their respective mentors. By the end of the semester, they had built extremely compelling case for why they should be hired full-time.”

One hiring manager says that seeing an intern with specific goals is someone who shows “transferable skills”.

“You know that an intern with a goal sheet is someone who will do that in a full-time job and is someone who has taken the time to get to know your company.

“You can teach the skills of the job, but you can’t teach initiative.”

3. Ask Questions – But Be Ready To Find Answers

While you are being advised to act as if you are a member of staff, it is important to remember that nobody is expecting you to have all of the answers.

There is an expectation that you will have certain knowledge deficits – what won’t be expected is that you are ok with those deficits.

Dan Rosenweig, CEO of book rental site Che gg; the best interns are those who ask questions. Writing for Fortune, he said:

“Take a real interest in learning about the people who already work at the company–which of course means asking more questions (and listening to the answers).

But even as they’re busy asking all of these questions, I also tell them that a lot of the time they’re going to have to find the answers themselves. No question is too small or dumb to ask, but don’t expect to be spoon-fed all the answers.

So, while asking questions can be awkward, it will show you as engaged, passionate and eager to learn.

4. Listen To Feedback

An internship, unlike a full-time job, is a learning opportunity – so use that chance.

Seek out your superiors or those with more knowledge than you and learn from them.

Ask them for feedback on your work – and listen to it. Some of the feedback may sting, but use the constructive nature of it to improve – and to be seen to want to improve.

Chelsea Evara of Washington Intern Student Housing says that feedback can be crucial:

“Don’t be afraid to ask for feedback throughout your time with the company. This shows your employer that you’re eager to do whatever it takes to do your job well. It will also allow you to find out what your strengths and weaknesses are, so you can get working on them before you leave.”

5. Practice The Little Things

It should go without saying, but as an intern you are expected to have the same standards as any other member of staff.

This means that you should have the same time management, attire and professional behaviour as the best members of staff in the company.

Being in the middle of the pack on these things will not help you stand out.

The student advice centre at Columbia University has some simple words for prospective interns that should be remembered:

“Be mindful of how you present yourself to your co-workers and supervisor. What is the appropriate attire for your workplace? What is appropriate email etiquette for the person you are addressing? If you have a concern or there is an issue you are not sure how to handle, who is the most appropriate person to talk to?And don’t forget the basics of common courtesy – be punctual, say thank you, follow up and follow through.”

One hiring manager says that it’s important to become part of a company culture.

“We say we have a no assholes policy – you spend a lot of time with your co-workers and you want to know that the people you’re working with are easy to get along with.”

6. State Your Case

When your internship period is nearly over, you may be interested in staying in the company, but it’s crucial not to wait to be asked.

While some companies with better intern programmes will be better able to manage whether to transition you or not, others won’t. This means that with people who are busy focusing on other things, you may fall through a crack.

To ensure this doesn’t happen, you should remember that old maxim:

If you don’t ask, you don’t get.

Reagan Michaelis, a Florida-based HR director told Forbes that asking the question, however difficult you may find it.

"Most HR people should be honest one way or the other. Ask for a permanent job. If you don't ask, you will never know. Again, if you don't ask, the answer is always no."

Lauren Boyd says that it is important that you make sure that your work to that point backs up your question. She recommends scheduling 30 minutes with a person who can give you a job and arrive with a business case for why you should be kept on, including feedback from other team members.

Learn, Asses & Change

Working as an intern can be a demanding task, particularly in fast-paced industries like marketing. However, internships can be turned into full-time jobs by making yourself a valuable team member.

This means learning the company culture, assessing yourself and being willing to learn. Become a team member, ask questions and listen to feedback.

While these tips do not guarantee you 40 hours a week, they will help you to squeeze the most out of the experience.

Did you know that 88% of our graduates are working in Senior roles or at Management level? Find out what a Postgraduate Diploma in Digital Marketing can do for your career.

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