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I remember my internship well.

Mostly because it was a pretty fun experience –we even got Baskin-Robbins for working overtime. (Ha!)

But on a more serious note, I recall stepping into it with the mindset that the internship was merely a mandatory “subject” of the course I was undertaking – and not because I wanted to learn more about the industry.

Looking back, I think I could have done much more with those three months. It’s not that I spent most of my time lazing around, I just felt like I hadn’t done enough – more than what I expect from the interns that I got to work with recently anyway.

And it’s not because I view interns as assets or work them to the ground, I simply want them to reap as much work experience as they can from the short period of time they are exposed to the industry.

Time is money, after all, and I didn’t want to short-change them.

And if you are an intern – you shouldn’t be short-changing yourself either.

Which is why I’ve prepared a couple of tips on how you can make the most out of your internship period in the ad industry:

Request for work.
Why would ANYONE do that? Well, here’s the inside scoop – many industry professionals are simply clueless when it comes to guiding interns. It’s not that they make bad supervisors; they just aren’t that good at delegating work. And if you don’t ask for any, chances are that they’ll just leave you just as you are.

Doing nothing else but Facebook-ing 24/7 might sound like a pretty sweet deal, but is leaving the company without any remembering your name (or any of your contributions, for that matter) something you’d like out of your internship?

Leave your mark and make those months count!

Don’t just play to your strengths.

Take on challenges too. Once in a while, you’ll be given tasks that may seem somewhat out of your depth. Make your concern known – but give it a go anyway. Shirking away from certain tasks will give the impression that you’re not willing to learn. With the Internet being so accessible nowadays, there’s absolutely no excuse to not take on a little challenge.

I once encountered a design intern who refused to use Adobe Illustrator as it wasn’t her “forte”, which obviously cost her a job in the end.

Just wing it, man.

Don’t be afraid to make mistakes.
The harder you try to be perfect, the more apparent your fear of rejection may come off to be. This is an industry that appreciates bold ideas, not someone who plays it safe. My ex-colleagues even won the agency some awards AS interns.

It’s YOUR internship, so take risks and make the most of it!

Keep your temper in check.
We understand that ideas can be very personal to us, and it hurts when they fail to impress. Refusing to give input or further contribute to a project, however, is just plain childish.

I had the misfortune of working with an intern who was so upset, she refused to move her mouse to make the revisions unless directed so. (Your superiors are there to guide you, not control your every move. Else, they’d be better off doing the project themselves.)

Don’t disconnect yourself entirely from the project – stay calm, take your time to understand the feedback and see how best to go about it. Be professional.

Remember, it’s not about your qualifications.
Advertising is a pretty “open” industry, as you may know. It welcomes folks from different backgrounds. But it’s not the qualifications or achievements you possess that will get you far in this industry – it’s the attitude you bring into the job.

Be a member of the team who’s here to learn and contribute; not to boast. Keep your comments constructive and build on ideas together. Everyone’s got something to give, and something to learn from each other.

So, good luck with your internship – and may it pave the way towards full-time employment!

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