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How to Be a Rockstar Digital Intern

Updated: Oct 30, 2019

So you've landed your dream internship at a funky agency - congrats!


We've put together advice on how to get the most out of what will no doubt be an invaluable experience as you start on your journey to becoming a digital rockstar.


1. Say Yes


Agencies are typically very fast paced environments where time is of the essence. This means that there is usually more than enough opportunity for an intern to roll up their sleeves and get in the trenches with the teams working on big deliverables. The more of a can-do attitude you can maintain when it comes to alleviating the pressure on the teams, the better stead it places you to get a job once the internship is over.


2. Be a self starter


Whilst interns are ostensibly given tasks to fill their days, more often than not, a little bit of initiative goes a long way. Successfully completing a task you weren't expected to do in the first place shows that you aren't the kind of person who sits around waiting for a brief - making you a far more valuable team member. Examples of tasks which you can do to help make an impact include:


(a) Make SEO a priority. Conduct an SEO audit on your company's website using simple tools like Woorank, SEOSiteCheckup or SERPstat, and putting together basic recommendations to improve challenges or identify content marketing opportunities for your agency. Remember, the better a website's SEO, the less money they have to compensate with paid for channels. So you could in fact inadvertently save the agency money by ensuring they are ranking for the most relevant keywords.

(b) Conduct a competitor analysis. Look at other agency websites (local and international), create a matrix to compare content and functionality, and come to a conclusion regarding a "best in class" agency site. Inspired by the research, compile recommendations on how your agency could improve its offering online. Agencies tend to be competitive, and helping yours getting the edge could be an invaluable contribution.

(c) Think social! Offer to organise a social event, desk drop or charity drive. These kinds of tasks may get overlooked when an agency is busy, and assistance is these regards is simple but contributes intangible benefits like staff morale, team bonding and can provide great content marketing opportunities.

(d) Refresh their social media. Invigorate the agency's social media presence by updating cover pages, profile pictures and descriptions across social media platforms e.g. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn. Google Places listings can also often do with some attention and helping with these tasks will show that you care.


3. Dress for the job you want


Whilst this is a well known piece of advice, it really does demonstrate that you are doing everything you can to make a good impression. You never know when you might be taken along to a client meeting to take notes, and being caught out in sneakers and a hoodie will hinder these kinds of invaluable experiences.


4. Go the extra mile


It goes without saying that making a concerted effort to always deliver of your best will seldom go amiss. It doesn't matter what the task, it is imperative to always put in 110% effort. This means answering the phone without complaint, making coffee for agency guests, and writing killer contact reports. It might seem like your role has little impact but this couldn't be further from the truth. Agencies are built on ideas, and ideas can come from anyone. So your attitude and ability on small tasks creates the perception that you are better equipped to handle more meaningful tasks which may be given to you once your colleagues see how passionate and prepared you are!


5. Become a champion


Digital marketing has become an incredibly broad field, covering everything from web development, to SEO, social media, mobile marketing, paid media and beyond. It is easy to become overwhelmed by trying to be the next big thing in all of these fields. Instead, it helps to choose one of your company's offerings e.g. influencer marketing, and focusing your after hour research on one discipline that you know will benefit both your agency and your career. To put what you have learnt into practise, you could offer to write content pieces for the company's blog.


6. Take an interest in everyone's roles


Interning often means that you work with a lot of different people who fulfil different roles. By taking an interest in everyone's roles, you will gain a better understanding of how briefs come into an agency and (hopefully!) come out as award winning work on the other end. It will also help you to steer your own career and understanding the skills sets required by the different roles. The day to day tasks of a creative director are very different to that of say, a developer, and by understanding the roles and responsibilities within an agency like yours, allows you to understand where you would best suited. Some of these differences are immediately apparent, whilst others are more nuanced. Project management and account management may sound similar, but in fact are focused on representing two different agendas of an agency e.g. operational skills like keeping a project in scope, on time and on budget vs. representing the needs and wants of the client.


7. Pay attention to every detail


The nature of the advertising agency means that the way your work looks is often as important as the work itself! This means strict adherence to your agency Corporate Identity - i.e. your margins, spacing and fonts - is imperative to ensure other people aren't having to format your work once you are finished with it. This also means proof checking your work for typo's and grammar before submitting it for approval. Questions which are useful to ask the person briefing you upfront are things like - what format would you like this in? Word, Powerpoint or KeyNote? And always be clear on your deadline to deliver.


8. Use your time wisely


If you do find yourself with downtime on the job, use it constructively. We've listed some ideas below:

- Do a Google Analytics course

- Go through the Facebook Blueprint resources

- Read blogs about digital marketing

- Listen to podcasts from thought leaders

- Learn how to use a handy software, like PhotoShop, InDesign, any video editing software

- Look for inspiration on global websites like Dribbble, Behance, Awwwards , The Webby Awards and Cannes Lions

- In South Africa, its well worth reading and subscribing to the mailing lists of BizCommunity and MarkLives to understand what is happening in the local industry

And don't be afraid to highlight the background research you are conducting when engaging in conversation. You can support someone's argument by saying things like - "To your point, content marketing is being lauded as the best digital marketing strategy a small business can use!" or "Have you seen Nike's augmented reality campaign? It underscores innovation within the sports apparel sector". By doing constructive research, you won't feel the urge to look at your phone throughout the day, or lurk at the water cooler.


But the most important tip of all is to enjoy every second. Embrace the chaos, network as much as you possible can and soak it all in like a sponge. It's unlikely that you will ever have such a steep learning curve again, which means lots of opportunity, growth and self reflection.


Want to learn more about becoming a digital strategist? Check out our Introduction to Social Media Marketing course to come to grips with the possibilities of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn, and much more!