Internships can be a lot of things for the intern. Intimidating. Boring. Eye-opening. Stimulating. Degrading. Inspiring. A total waste of time for everyone involved.But really, a worthwhile internship should be mutually beneficial. Agency-folk and intern-folk both need to bring it.
Interns have a lot to give.
Don’t underestimate your interns. They bring a ton of enthusiasm, curiosity and a different perspective … not to mention youth. Who better to give you a Snapchat tutorial? What they lack in experience they make up for in eagerness. What they lack in years they make up for in actually being the target, or at least when we’re targeting millennials — which is almost all the time, it seems.
Create structure around their time at the agency.
Three months can go fast. In our LA office, I ask every creative intern to come up with three or four goals in their first week. These goals can be things like “learn to write better radio” or “get better at presenting” or maybe just “don’t fuck up answering the phones.” I’ll make sure they get opportunities to hone those skills, and they make sure to track their own progress toward those goals. We meet every few weeks to talk about how it’s going.
Give them real responsibilities with safety nets.
This summer we tried something new. We had a group made entirely of interns (spanning both offices) work on a project, beginning to end, for our LA client The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, which kindly agreed to our experiment.
The strategist intern wrote the brief and presented it to our head client. She then kicked off the briefing with the whole team, which included a copywriter, art director, designer, account executive and connections planner (all interns). A subset of this group visited The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf’s roasting facility together as part of their research. They presented a first round of work to the clients a few weeks later, and a final round a couple weeks after that.
This was all gently guided (but not interfered with) by a few of us who oversaw the project. Did it go a little off the rails at times? Sure. But it was a huge success in that they learned a ton, and our clients have expressed a desire to turn that intern project into a real one, to launch in 2015.
This fall term, in a very meta-assignment, our Wongterns will be designing the newly named WONGTERNS identity, messaging and advertising as part of their Wongternship.
Stay tuned for how it turns out.
Executive Creative Director, WONGDOODY LA
Think you have what it takes to be a Wongtern? Apply here.