Friday, November 13, 2015
Matt Sueper, Contributor

Matt Sueper, graduate of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, wrote this piece as our creative intern. He is now a professional copywriter in Omaha, Nebraska.

My internship here at Swanson Russell was my first-ever advertising agency experience. When I walked into the building for my first day of work, I had no idea what I was getting into. I mean, I had an idea: I’ve seen “Art & Copy” and that one “Portlandia” episode where Carrie Brownstein starts a job at Wieden + Kennedy. But for the most part, I was going in without really knowing what to expect.

After this experience, you could call me a real ad pro. Wait, don’t. That sounds lame. First lesson: don’t call anyone an ad pro. During my internship, I learned a lot about agencies and working in the professional world. If you’re starting an internship, you’re probably a little anxious or maybe even a little intimidated. If you’re not, well stop reading and check out our careers page. For those still with me, here’s some advice on what to expect when you’re expecting an internship:

You’ll be treated like an adult.

You’re still a student; a kid to many. However, you’re in the professional world now, and you’ll be treated accordingly. There won’t be someone peeking over your shoulder every other minute to make sure you’re behaving or doing your work. It’s up to you to get yourself in gear and put the effort in to produce quality work.

But they still know you’re a student.

Your employers know you’re there to work, but they also know that you’re not a finished product. Internships are for learning, and they know that. If they didn’t have the managerial capacity to foster growth in an intern, they wouldn’t have even posted the job in the first place.

You’ll create work for your portfolio.

There will be opportunities to really knock a project out of the park and make something good enough to put in your portfolio. I’m sure making work for your book is one of the reasons you sought an internship. With the guidance of your new employees, you’ll be making some of the best work you’ve ever done.

And some other stuff too.

Realistically, not every project you do at your internship will be portfolio-worthy. You’ll have some jobs that just aren’t flashy enough for your book. That doesn’t mean those other projects are unimportant — a lot of the time, you’ll be expected to do something that you might not have been taught in your ad classes. Learn on the fly and write the hell out of that email copy.

You’ll have to work hard.

It’s not easy creating great work for clients. Their money is on the line, so everything that comes out of the agency has to be as perfect as you can make it. That requires a lot of output. You can’t just settle on your first idea like you can in class. You need to come up with a lot of ideas to find the one worth sticking with.

But you’ll also have a lot of fun.

People in advertising really know how to blow off steam. Whether it’s a random conversation about the absurdity of fish sticks, donuts on a Wednesday morning, or an unofficial company retreat to 12th Street Pub after work each Friday, your coworkers and bosses will find ways to keep the stress down and keep the work environment fun. You don’t have to work at a zany coastal ad agency to have fun at work.

Well, that’s the gist of it. The main takeaway is that your new coworkers are people too — they remember what it was like when they were just starting out in the professional world. If it goes well, you’ll create some awesome work and make some friends in the process.

If you’d like to put this advice to work at Swanson Russell, check out our careers page for full-time and intern positions.