What It Takes to Land an Internship in a Top Advertising Agency

What does it take to land that dream role in a top advertising agency? Here are some helpful tips from a creative recruiter who visited the Intro to Creative Advertising course in December:

 Use the network that you already have. The Moody College of Communication has a vast network of alumni, and that network comes in handy when a fellow Longhorn has a job opportunity for hire.

 Get in touch with an agency (one you are really interested in)! Explain to the recruiter or employee you are speaking with that you are a huge fan of their work,be prepared to answer what work that is and ask to speak to them about the ins and outs of the agency. This initiative is key to being on their radar – you never know when there will be an opening for a position for them to reach out to you about.

 Focus on a core role in the agency. This is not to say that you shouldn’t be open to trying on many hats in an agency, but being particularly skilled in one area helps you to stand out and appear a more valuable hire. A recruiter explained that it helps to think of yourself like the letter “T” – you have a main skill that you excel in (the long line), and you have two other strengths that help to balance your resume out (the short lines). While these will not be your only skills that you present, it helps to give a recruiter or employee a good look at a few things you can excel in right off the bat. For example, if you are an art director who also knows the ins and outs of motion design, that means that you can strategize an idea and actually execute it.

The portfolio. This is a major aspect to standing out, as it shows the work you are most proud of, as well as the skills that you are able to carry out. The main takeaway regarding a portfolio is that it is a reflection of yourself – so show your best ideas and make it truly representative of you. It helps to have a “work” column, with all of your class projects and past work, as well as a “play” column, where you can show off any side projects you were involved with.

When in an interview, questions are bound to vary depending on the agency and skill level of the desired position, but a few questions to prepare for include:

What is your favorite piece in your portfolio? Can you explain the process of this project to me?

What is your least favorite piece in your portfolio and how would you make it better?

What are you doing outside of work? Note that a side hobby, such as art or music creation, is a good way to show your creative strength!

What inspires you? How do you channel your creativity? 

Where do you see yourself in 5 years? You should refrain from saying that you want to use this position as a stepping stone to another agency or career. The right answer is usually not another agency, as a company strives for low turnover. The right answer has to do with the skills you are hoping to gain and how much more advanced you would like to be in your career.

What is your favorite piece of advertising work that has recently gone out? You are a student of the industry, and you should be able to mention something relevant and very recent. This shows that you are interested in bettering yourself and that you are truly interested in the industry you are applying to be a part of.

While answering these questions will help an agency get an idea of how you will strengthen their agency, don’t forget that you are also evaluating the agency for its fit into your life and skillset. Remember to ask relevant questions, such as:

What is the culture of the agency? Note that this is a major question, as issues such as work-life balance may be able to be fleshed out here.

What is the work life balance like?

What is my training plan like once I get into the agency? Is there an orientation period?

Who would be my manager and can I speak to them? This is great to ask if you are offered the position already. 

What clients will I be working with?

What is the collaboration like between teams?

Overall, staying positive and reaching out personally to the agency of your choice is a great starting point. While there are many changes in the way many internships look, given the current times, you are a valuable asset to any company you work with!

Paige Cabianca