Angel Sanford (@TampereAngel on Twitter) graduated from University of Oregon with a B.S. in business administration and marketing. She recently returned from an internship in Scotland to live in her hometown of Portland, Ore. Besides visiting craft breweries and trying to get on the show ‘Portlandia’, she is also looking to start her advertising career in Portland.
By Angel Sanford
Out of the four amazing months I spent interning in Edinburgh, Scotland at an advertising agency, there was one day that changed my internship and became my big break.
From that day on, I was no longer the ‘placement student.’ I graduated to something more. I became part of the team.
In the beginning of my internship, I could spend hours tweaking my research assignments to perfection because I had plenty of time. As I proved myself, my work load steadily increased. But I still hadn’t interacted with real clients.
I knew if I showed myself capable I would be given more responsibility, so I kept close tabs on the running projects. I watched the account managers by me, listening to all they said about the work and the clients. Every day I picked up more about presenting creative work to the client.
Two and a half months into my three-month internship, there was a chance to shine. The colleagues on my account team had gone to an all-day client meeting. Up to this point, they were the only people with access to the clients and the artwork. On that day though, I saw new artwork come up with a pressing deadline. I cared about my teammates looking good. I cared about their client. I cared about our agency. So, in my mind, I had to step in.
“Every once in a while … there is a chance to act as the job you want to have, no matter your current title.”
I went on a daring mission to contact the client directly with the completed artwork. This sort of action is unprecedented for an intern, because there’s no protection if I had got it wrong. As soon as I sent the materials, I felt a wave of regret thinking, “What if I sent the wrong artwork? Or to the wrong email address? What if I ruined everything?”
Two minutes seemed like ages when, suddenly, an email from my senior account manager popped up. “Wow! Thanks for sending those! You just made us look good,” it said. Reassured, I sent over more work.
My quick thinking and risk-taking that day secured my role as part of the account team. The whole office forgot I was an intern and instead treated me as an account executive. I worked at the same level as my colleagues. I even developed reports with our client. In fact, the agency asked me to stay a month longer to fill the account executive role — something I hadn’t expected.
Interns can sometimes feel like second-class citizens that get ignored or passed over. Every once in a while, though, there is a chance to act as the job you want to have, no matter your current title. Out of my four months interning in Scotland, one day confirmed I was on the right track. And on that day, I left the realm of intern and became a respected part of the professional team.