Diary of a Summer Intern: Part 1

Hey Blog Readers (if you’re still out there),
I know it’s been a while since I’ve updated this blog, and I have to say, I’ve been missing it. So, to make it up to you, I’m going to share a blog post I recently wrote for Brown’s career center about my summer internship at Digital Influence Group. (I would just link you to it, but it’s unavailable to people outside the university.)

Hope you enjoy! In the meantime, follow me on Twitter @madelinesall for more updates.

When I tell people that I’m interning at an advertising agency this summer, most people ask the same question: “Is it like Mad Men?”  Well, not exactly. Especially since we have the Internet.
This summer, I am working for Digital Influence Group (or DIG, as we call it). As you can probably guess from the name, DIG is a digital advertising agency that focuses on building online experiences with social media at the core. DIG has a sister PR agency called Racepoint Group, and both companies fall under a parent holding company called W2 Group. We work with some big name clients like IBM, Glidden Paint, HBO, T Mobile, and others. Over the next few posts, I’m going to talk about how I got this internship, what it’s actually like to work at DIG, and what I’m learning about the advertising industry and about myself.

But first, a few tidbits about myself:
  • I study Music History, Theory, & Composition, and I’m planning to write a thesis on the use of classical music in advertising.
  • Outside of classes, I work at WBRU, Brown’s commercial radio station, and I am the Social Media Manager for the CareerLAB.
  • Both of my parents work in marketing.
  • This past fall, I wrote a paper about the ad campaign your ad campaign could be like. (No seriously, it was the best assignment.)
  • There’s nothing I like more than taking a long, aimless walk outside.

Through my parents, I learned early on that marketing and advertising interested me as a potential career. I was excited by the combination of creativity combined with strong analytical thinking in order to direct that creativity. With marketing & advertising in mind, I started my internship search process in early October and applied for 19 internships before I accepted DIG’s offer. I just made that process sound much simpler than it actually was. In mid-April, I lost my best opportunity with a different advertising agency to another candidate, and I had not received any job offers despite having numerous interviews. I was beginning to worry and felt pretty desperate.

Then, through a chance encounter, I found DIG. My mom ran into the CEO (who I know because I went to theater camp with his son) and told him that I was looking for an internship in marketing or advertising. I sent him my resume, and two interviews later, I had an internship offer.

Now, I may sound like a broken record when I say this, but networking is so important. Without telling my friends and family what I was looking for, I would not be working at DIG this summer. It makes a big difference when you know somebody at the company where you want to work because they can turn your black & white resume into a colorful & lively representation of you. Of course, I still went through the same interview process at DIG as the other applicants, but a personal connection can really help you get a foot in the door.

I am not trying to tell you how to network, the CareerLAB and the Internet can provide great resources if you want some tips, but it can be hard to understand the types of opportunities that networking can open up without concrete examples. Consider my internship search an example.

It can be tempting to fill out another online job application when you feel the job pressure, but I truly believe that spending those 30 minutes to an hour searching for people you know at companies where you want to work and asking them for advice (not for a job) is a much better use of time. Plus, when the time comes for a job/internship search, you have a better sense of those companies, which often results in an opportunity that better aligns with your values and interests. I have been lucky that DIG has been an incredible fit for me, and I have my mom and DIG’s CEO to thank.

More about DIG and what I’m learning in future posts!

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