Marketing changes rapidly so having a hands-on marketing internship with professionals working in the field can be an invaluable jump start to your career.
While many people think internships are exclusively for college students and new graduates, they can be useful for anyone looking to acquire new skills or break into a new industry.
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Whether you’re coming back to work after time away for family or looking to pivot your career, the right internship will give you the hands-on experience you need.
However, it’s important to approach finding and landing a marketing internship with clarity on what you’re hoping to achieve. Otherwise, you may waste your time with low-level tasks and leave the internship no better off than when you started. Here are some questions to ask yourself.
What Do You Do as a Marketing Intern?
Marketing is actually a broad field that covers a wide range of skills and topics. At a smaller agency, you might be able to be a generalist and do a little of everything, however, most marketing departments are subdivided into smaller fields.
Focusing on a specific area will also help you build expertise faster. Becoming a Jack (or Jill)-of-all-trades, master of none can definitely apply to marketing internships.
If you’re uncertain, think about what appeals to you in your own life? Do you enjoy interacting with people and building community? Creating buzz with PR and social media might be a natural fit. Are you more analytical and strategic? Marketing analysts are critical parts of marketing teams and in demand.
Common Types of Marketing:
- Traditional Marketing (Print, TV, Radio)
- Online / Digital Marketing
- Social Media Marketing
- Public Relations
What Does a Marketing Internship Entail?
Where you intern will largely shape the opportunities you have later so it’s important to pick a marketing internship that works in both an industry you’re interested in as well as the type of business you’d like to work for.
For instance, agencies tend to be faster paced and work with a wide variety of clients whereas working in-house you will likely work more in-depth on a few key projects. Similarly, in a small company, you’re more apt to wear multiple hats and get a wide overview, within digital marketing internship for example, whereas a larger company, you’ll likely work on a team focused on one specific aspect of marketing.
Culture is also an important and commonly overlooked aspect. What’s the company’s mission and values? Are they aligned with your goals? Feeling like you’re part of something larger than just the day-to-day work will keep you motivated and attract like-minded people. Often that will be what determines your happiness as a marketing intern.
What Are My Goals for the Internship?
While it might seem obvious that you’re taking a marketing internship to gain hands-on experience and skills, go a step beyond that. In an ideal situation, what will you be leaving the internship with? Be specific and write it down.
- Work reference to apply for new jobs.
- In-depth knowledge of a specific industry or topic.
- Quickly getting up to speed with changes in best-practices.
- Refreshing your resume to be more current.
- Helping you pivot from one industry to another.
- Working with someone you admire to learn their skills.
- A foot in the door to get a position within the company.
- Industry connections to further your career.
There’s no right answer and a lot of unknowns. However, when you’re evaluating opportunities, it’s important to keep your core goals in mind.
How Do I Find A Marketing Internship?
To jumpstart your marketing internship search, websites like Internships.com or Acadium are a good place to start. Even if you don’t find the perfect internship, you’ll get an idea of the types of marketing internships available, what companies are looking for and what they require.
Didn’t find what you’re looking for? Universities and colleges often maintain websites with internship opportunities that you can access as alumni. Similarly, many professional organizations have job boards that include internships.
Or take it offline. Find local businesses or join industry-specific meet-up groups to find and connect with people in the field. Career fairs can also be useful.
Often personal connections will be your best way to get in with a company. Brainstorm who you know and who of your acquaintances might have connections. Don’t be overly pushy but most people are happy to connect you if you are respectful and have a clear reason.
How Do I Land the Internship?
One of the best ways to show that you deserve the marketing internship above all the other entry-level applicants is marketing yourself.
Think of it as a marketing challenge — the competition is fierce and usually they only need 1-2 interns at most. How will you stand out?
Highlight the value you would bring to the position. If you’re reigniting your career, think of what you’re bringing from your past work experience that would be applicable.
If you’re pivoting to a new field, what value can you add that the average new graduate can’t?
Don’t just send a generic cover letter and resume and hope for the best. Use the cover letter to connect and add some personality. If you are passionate about their mission, have relevant experience, or just love the company in general, tell them. If you have a website add a link — anything you can do to round out and further
Finding the right marketing internship can take some time and perseverance but the boost it can give your career is well worth it.