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The Ultimate Guide to Landing Your First Marketing Internship

Searching for your first marketing internship is an exciting moment: You’re ready to take the first big step toward the career of your dreams in the field that you’ve always aspired to. But landing an internship without any prior experience isn’t always easy. It can seem like everyone has years of experience under their belt while you’re just starting out. How do you set yourself apart from the rest of the pack? If you take the time to prepare, believe in yourself, and set your sights high, you can land an amazing internship that will help propel your career in the direction you desire. 

Why internships matter:

Internships are important for a number of reasons. Firstly, they give you valuable work experience that will help you stand out to potential employers after graduation. 

An internship can also help you better understand the field you’re interested in and give you a chance to try different roles within that industry. Maybe you thought you wanted to work in content creation but your interests really lie in corporate partnerships. Internships can help you understand the differences and possibilities embedded in every role in a company. 

Perhaps most importantly, internships lay the groundwork for your career by giving you an opportunity to make connections with other professionals who can refer or hire you later on down the line. According to the latest research, 70% of interns are hired by the company they interned for following their internship. Talk about a golden opportunity! 

What employers look for in an ideal marketing intern:

Employers won’t be expecting you to have marketing experience. Instead, they’ll be assessing your skills, your potential, and whether you have the right mindset for the role. Some key qualities that employers look for in a marketing intern are:

1. Creativity: Marketers need to be able to come up with innovative ideas and think outside the box. Can you brainstorm new marketing strategies or come up with exciting campaigns? Can you observe trends and patterns in your peers, both online and off? Do you daydream in colors, patterns, and trends? 

2. Communication: Being able to communicate clearly is essential when it comes to marketing. You need strong writing, speaking, and interpersonal skills in order to effectively present your work and interact professionally with colleagues and clients alike. Especially since this may be your first corporate role, it is important to demonstrate professionalism during all phases of the hiring process. 

3. Teamwork: Marketing often involves working closely with other team members on everything from strategy development to campaign execution. Can you collaborate well with others and contribute to team efforts? Are you comfortable sharing and listening to new ideas? 

4. Passion for marketing: Enthusiasm for the field is crucial if you want to succeed. Are you excited to learn more about trends and best practices in marketing, or will you be bored by the work? Employers want motivated interns who are genuinely interested in what they do. Fresh, eager voices can remind the employer about why they entered the field in the first place. It’s a win-win!

Where to find internships:

There are many great sources of internship opportunities out there, from online databases and job boards to your school’s career services office. Your personal network is often the best place to start. You never know who can help, so it’s always worth sharing that you’re looking for an internship with family, friends, and your college professors. Additionally, some of the best websites to start looking are below. 

1. College-specific job boards: Check out websites like Handshake, specifically designed for college students seeking internships. Handshake has listings just for your major or area of interest, making it easier to find a great opportunity.

2. Industry-specific websites or job boards: Do some research and find out which industry-specific websites or job boards are popular in your area. For example, if you’re interested in marketing internships, sites like Mediabistro or CreativeGuild might be a good place to start looking.

3. Your school’s career services office: Career services often have listings for on-campus recruiting opportunities that can help you land an amazing internship. Additionally, they may also offer resume review sessions and workshops to help get your application ready for the hiring process.

4. Professional networking sites like LinkedIn make it easy to connect with potential employers and other professionals working in your field. You can use them to connect with current interns or even reach out directly to companies that may be hiring for marketing internships in the near future.

How to land your first internship:

1. Start by doing your research and identifying several promising opportunities that match your skills and interests. If you’re just starting out, don’t worry too much about having an extensive resume or a lot of prior experience – focus on quality over quantity when it comes to choosing where to apply.

2. Once you’ve identified several potential internship opportunities, it’s time to start applying. Follow the instructions carefully for each application, and be sure to tailor your resume and cover letter for each role, emphasizing the specific qualities and qualifications that make you the perfect fit for that company or organization. Make sure to have a friend review your resume for typos and tone. 

3. Once you’ve submitted your applications, don’t just wait around – take an active role in your job search by networking with other professionals and keeping yourself up-to-date on industry trends and best practices. You can also message the hiring manager on LinkedIn to let them know you’ve applied and what specifically inspires you about their company. 

4. Finally, be prepared to go above and beyond once you’re selected for an interview. Marketing internships are competitive, so companies want to make sure they’re selecting the most qualified candidates who can contribute to the team. This means you’ll need to show that you have the skills and enthusiasm to succeed in this role. Be prepared to talk about your past experiences, your knowledge of current marketing trends, and why you’re excited about working in this field. 

Don’t be afraid to bring in personal experiences. Marketing teams are always interested in what the next generation is talking about! 

How to know the company is right for you

While you’re eager to get your first internship, you should pay attention to red flags during the interview process. Remember that you deserve to be treated with dignity, respect, and care every step of the way. Since this will be one of your first professional experiences, you want to make sure it’s a good one. Some things to look out for include:

1. Poor communication from the company. If you’ve submitted an application and haven’t heard back, or if your interviewer doesn’t seem interested in getting to know you or taking the time to answer your questions, this may be a sign that this is not the right place for you.

2. Being asked for favors without receiving anything in return. Marketing internships should provide valuable learning and networking opportunities, but not at the expense of your own time or energy. If a company expects you to do extensive work without any compensation, this is definitely something to watch out for.

3. Lack of clear goals or opportunities for growth within the company. A good marketing internship should be more than just a way to earn some extra cash or check off a box on your resume. You should see clear opportunities for professional development, growth, and experience during your time there. The relationship should feel mutual. 

4. A toxic company culture or poor management practices. While you shouldn’t expect every internship to be perfect, you should feel comfortable and respected in the workplace overall. If this is not the case at a particular internship opportunity, it’s probably best to keep looking for something better suited to your needs and values. There shouldn’t be a power dynamic where interns are treated as “less-than” other employees. 

In general, when evaluating whether a company is right for you, it’s important to listen carefully to your instincts and pay attention to any red flags that may arise during the interview process. Even though this is your first internship, you have a life’s worth of experiences that can help you decide whether or not the role is a good fit. 

What about pay?

Previously, a lot of internship opportunities were for college credits and no pay. But let’s get real – students have bills to pay too! As it became clear that this only allowed the very privileged to participate in internships, schools and businesses shifted their policies. Today, most internships provide a small stipend or salary, although it may require that you also take on part-time employment to supplement your income. If a company is unwilling to pay for your time, look elsewhere. If they don’t pay now, they likely won’t pay well if and when you choose to work for them full-time, and it speaks to a lack of equity in the workplace. 

Working as a marketing intern can be a highly rewarding experience. You’ll have the chance to work with some of the top professionals in your field, learn valuable skills and best practices, and build your professional network. And for many students, getting their first marketing internship is an important step toward building a successful career in this exciting industry. So don’t hesitate – start applying today!


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