Three years of working in “agencies” in UW-Madison’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication classes and I finally got a coveted internship at a REAL agency here at Lindsay, Stone & Briggs (LSB).
While I was grateful for my strategic communications foundation (shout out to the j-school), I quickly learned that no amount of coursework, clubs or speakers can truly prepare you for agency life. It really is something you need to experience for yourself.
Once that happens – get ready to work hard and take advantage of every opportunity that comes your way.
While my title is “PR Intern,” I’ve been a part of video shoots, writing press releases and product fact sheets, identifying influencers for social media campaigns, earning my first news placements, testing out Alexa skills and sitting in on weekly Account Management meetings.
However, I may not have been able to do a lot of these things had I not taken some initiative myself. So here are some words of wisdom from one j-schooler to another (or whatever your major may be).
Don’t worry, two of our other interns are psychology and management majors, LSB doesn’t discriminate!
1. Reach Out
Everyone is here to help and genuinely wants you to succeed – but they’re not mind readers. As I was becoming more interested in Account Management, I scheduled individual meetings with multiple members of the Account Team to learn more about what they do and the internal processes that go into creating a client budget or project timeline.
After every meeting I walked away with valuable insights and a different perspective. Also, since these people now knew that I was curious about Account, they were much more likely to include me on their projects and meetings.
2. Take Initiative
You’ve heard it 1,000 times and I have too, but it is much easier said than done. Although it may feel a bit uncomfortable at first, try to push yourself out of your comfort zone and take some initiative to get involved and get noticed.
At one of my first staff meetings, I took notes without being asked and then sent them to the team afterwards. People were impressed that, although I wasn’t told to take notes, I went out of my way to be helpful. Little things like that can help you stand out.
3. Ask for Work
You have some extra bandwidth? Send out an email to the team asking how you can help. Or even better, approach someone whose department you want some more experience in (it’s a lot easier to ignore an email than a person!).
This is a bit counterintuitive for students because it seems like we are always trying to have less on our plate, but at an agency it is so important and allows you to get the most out of your experience.
4. Get Involved
And not just with various departments or projects (although this is very important!). Agency culture is a real thing and some of my best memories from LSB are at its social events.
The pontoon porch, the holiday parties, trivia, restaurant week, the list goes on and on. Definitely make an effort to attend these events, besides being a lot of fun, they were a great way to get to know LSBers in a much more casual setting.
Sometimes it can be tough when people are at their computers or have meetings and things to get done during the work day, so trust me – it is much easier to get to know everyone over snacks on Lake Monona.
Oh, and brownie points* if you bring a treat – they LOVE that.
*5. Bring Treats
I wasn’t kidding about these BROWNIE points, bring brownies (or chips or any snack) – and no I am not being forced to add this bullet point. Seriously, I’m not.