Marketing Internships: Expectations vs. Reality
All job positions, tasks, duties, and even titles vary based on where you work. For instance, at AOL, instead of being a “digital trend strategist,” you are a “Digital Prophet.” At Honest Tea, CEO and President, Seth Goldman is known as the “TeaEO.” You may be thinking, call a spade a spade. The job is the same, but the title is different. With interns, it’s usually the opposite. The title is the same, but the tasks are always different. Generally, interns are expected to perform mundane, day-to-day tasks that no one else wants to do or has the time to do. However, from the intern’s perspective, their job is to learn about the industry and perform related tasks that might teach them a thing or two. From the employer’s perspective, the intern’s tasks require little experience (hence the very basic, yet necessary, busy work), but are expected to work as hard as they can to prove that they are worthy of an official title or further duties within their respective industry. Although outsiders may not agree, a young novis’ duties may not seem challenging, or even exciting, but sometimes the intern’s job is the hardest.
When you’re at the bottom of the food chain, as an intern is, they must toe the line in order to prove that they are the best candidate for the job. This is especially true if there is more than one intern competing for a position. Though we're no longer in the days of cocktail lunches and interns doing all the dirty work starting from the mail room up, it's still an oftentimes un-thanked job for some tasks or credit is not always given for minor concepts and busy work. Many agencies have made the shift from coffee gophers to full-on educational internship machines and as the industry continues to change, so do the expectations and the overall experience for all internships.
Currently, the expectations of an intern are different per agency or department and vary across the board. Some are given what seems like a real job, with very realistic responsibilities and deadlines, while still others are expected to fetch coffee, read emails, and maintain supply closet inventory. Whatever the job description may be, something we can agree on is that both employers and employees expect that the intern is (or should be) the jack of all trades and is always ready to learn something new. An intern must wear many hats and be able to perform a variety of tasks well. This may not always be achievable, but showing effort shows vitality and capability, which is what makes the intern the best candidate for the job and ultimately will get them hired in the end.