This article is not for all students. You either live to work or work to live. If you consider advertising your art, your life and would like to excel at it; if want to do more to fill your backpack of skills than listening to lectures and reading papers – this article might be up your alley.
As students in marketing we aren’t subjected to a lot of hands-on practice. Limited by case studies, workshops, and the occasional business seminar, we absolutely need internships to bring us up to par with those currently working as marketing professionals.
I’d like to stress, however, that I do not believe that the theory that is being taught to us is unimportant. On the contrary, I am an academic to the core and believe that a scientific background gives students a huge competitive advantage.
Experimenting – collecting, analyzing and reporting data – is invaluable to the advancement of advertising; it’s what makes our profession science; it is what makes our profession advance. Look at the advent of big data during the current social media revolution; look at consumer psychology based branding; look at e marketing – they are all the result of research.
We must, however, not fool ourselves that theoretical knowledge is sufficient to start a career in business. Certainly if we wish to compete with current professionals, we cannot graduate as rookies that have never spend a day in their lives advertising a product. So for us upcoming admen and women, besides filling our vacations with internships, can we do more? Yes, you just have to think… creatively.
First off, the student life is a busy one. On the first day of college I was once presented with the three S’s: Sleep, Social and Study. We were told to pick two, because there would not be time enough for all three. However, as you learn to plan your social life better, study more efficiently, and sleep less (which is a huge transition for ex-teenagers) you start to notice that there is actually some spare time on your calendar. It might not be enough for a full-time position at an ad agency, but how about a part-time internship or a side-job?
It is true that most internships are advertised as full-time, but what is stopping you from sending an email to a possible employer to discuss the options? Perseverance will always be rewarded and employers will see you as a motivated applicant because you are willing to sacrifice your leisure time for more experience. Especially graduate students, who spend little time actually in class, can apply for such part-time positions since their schedules are more flexible.
Unfortunately there aren’t many paid internships and not all of us have the luxury of being able to do underpaid (see unpaid) ones. Staggering student debt and outlandishly high living costs force many students to take on a side job. Luckily for every disadvantage there is an advantage, since working at small businesses provides the hidden opportunity to practice advertising. Small businesses often do not have a marketing budget; so proposing to do advertising for them, as part of your job, offers them low-cost advertising method.
It provides several advantages for both parties, mostly since the stakes are quite low, but the gain can be high. Being a marketing or advertising student there is little you can do that can actually harm the business, but adding just a little advertising can do wonders for a business. Setting up proper Social Media advertising for instance, can not only increase the number of customers, it can also improve communication with the customers, creating a dialogue for improved service and product.