Landing your first job out of college is much like the classic “What came first, the chicken or the egg?” scenario. You need to be employed to gain experience, but to gain experience you need to be employed. The answer to this conundrum may be an internship that provides hands-on, real-world industry experience.
Here at Knowmad, intern Sarah Wolterman, says she started looking for a marketing internship to gain more real world experience. She says, “I heard too many times of students right out of college being blind-sided by how the real world really is. Coming into this internship I was excited to gain more training and knowledge about web-design and digital marketing since I had not worked with them before.”
So, what do you need to do to market yourself as the intern an inbound marketing agency needs? Employers want to find qualified people who will fit into the company culture. Prospective interns should expect to go through an in-depth process – from submitting an application to participating in interviews – designed to assess both qualifications and fit. What follows are five areas to focus on to demonstrate that you can bring a fresh perspective to a potential employer’s marketing agency.
General Knowledge of Inbound Marketing
What marketing classes have you taken? What concepts from those classes can you apply to a marketing internship? Employers understand interns do not have years of experience, but they expect interns to have a basic understanding of typical marketing terms and concepts.
Employers also expect interns to be able to contribute their own unique ideas, and an interview is oftentimes the first test of this ability. Research the company you want to work for to gain a thorough understanding of what they do and how they do it. This will help you avoid broad answers when the interviewer asks, “Why are you the best person for me to hire for this internship?” Saying things like "it's a great opportunity to learn” and “I can help you get work done” will not position you differently than the next candidate.
Instead, offer specific examples of what you can do to help the company meet its goals. For example, "I would like to apply my classroom experience in business and marketing to help the company website reach a larger audience, either through regular contributions to the blog or managing the social media accounts.”
It stands to reason you will never be able to come up with specific answers unless you know exactly what goals you want to achieve. Are you applying for the internship only to build your resume, or are there certain aspects of digital marketing that you would like to learn? The interviewer will be interested to learn what do you hope to get from the internship and why do you want to work at their marketing agency.
Strong Writing Skills
The importance of strong writing skills to the success of an inbound marketer cannot be stressed enough. Inbound marketing is built on providing valuable content – from blogs to press releases to landing page copy to calls-to-action to video scripts and on and on. It is not enough to say you have the ability to write. Showcase this ability by sharing current writing samples, and understand what makes some written pieces better than others.
Not sure where to start? Consistent writing habits make strong writers, so write every day. You may also want to consider starting a blog on a topic that interests you. This will display your ability to not only create but also manage content on a consistent basis.
Social Media Presence
It should come as no surprise that employers who trust interns to manage a business’s social media accounts will first check to make sure those individuals manage their personal social media profiles appropriately. Profanity and inappropriate pictures are obvious red flags, so clean up your accounts of these past mistakes.
If you do not already have one, build a LinkedIn profile. An intern who does not value LinkedIn as a professional network will most likely be seen as someone who is unable to see the value of a social media presence for a business. For extra credit, come prepared to pitch ideas for content like social media status update ideas for the business. Tell the interviewer what you would post and why.
Leadership an Extracurricular Experience
Teamwork and time management are critical skills for anyone who works at a marketing agency. When was a time you stepped up to get a job done? Be prepared to share these types of experiences to demonstrate your ability to both work with a team and manage your tasks independently.
Potential employers will want to know what type of leadership an intern will bring to the team. Have you held a leadership position with a volunteer agency or on a school committee? Maybe you took charge of a particular aspect of a project or were responsible for a significant task. Experience outside the classroom is valued for its ability to help students develop skills that make them well-rounded individuals.
Confident and Professional Presence
No matter how friendly the interviewer, it’s natural to feel nervous during an interview. The ability to show up in professional dress, maintain eye contact, and communicate clear thoughts while you are uncomfortable is key. Be prepared to identify times when you made a serious mistake, and explain what you did to correct it. If you can answer these tough questions and perform under the pressure of an interview, chances are you can handle deadlines and other high-pressure situations you may encounter in the work environment.
Sarah has said her experience working with the Knowmad team helped her gain a great deal of knowledge in the digital marketing world. “I've been working with the HubSpot marketing platform to gain knowledge of inbound marketing, and through this I have learned how to convert website visitors into leads, and leads into customers. I have learned the basics of HTML and CSS and prototyped website layouts, and I have worked with programs like WordPress to make website edits ranging from content and layouts to fixing cross-browser and mobile inconsistencies.”
An internship should be a learning experience for both the intern and the marketing agency. Interns will gain valuable experience they can apply to the real world, and the agency will benefit from an extra hand on deck.
Ready to see if you have what it takes to intern at a marketing agency? Check out our careers page to view our open positions and submit an application.
Diona is a managing partner at Knowmad. Her areas of expertise include digital marketing strategy, project management, brand management, search engine optimization (SEO), pay per click advertising, inbound marketing, content marketing, conversion rate optimization, social media marketing and website design.