Everyone will tell you that starting with the right internship can be one of the most important moves in kicking off your dream career. What they fail to mention is how daunting and overwhelming it can be to figure out not only what that internship is, but how to make sure it becomes the magic stepping stone to a great job.
To make things a little easier for you, I picked the brains of some of the members of the D Custom team to see how internships shaped their careers, plus their best advice for getting the most out of the experience (all of which, as a current D Custom intern, I have duly noted). Here’s what they had to share.
How to Ace Your D Custom Internship, According to Our Staff
Abby Kinsinger, managing editor
Intern experience: I interned in the editorial department at D Magazine the summer after I graduated. I was freaked out to take an internship while all my friends were starting their full-time jobs, but it was a great decision that made a huge and positive impact on my career path. The connections I made that summer led me to a job as an editor at American Way, and then back here to the D family a couple years later.
Advice: Leave with something to show for yourself. A lot of people come in and go through the motions. If you want a valuable experience, talk to people across departments, ask questions, and raise your hand to take on new work. Don’t be afraid to pitch something to your intern manager — they’re there to help you learn and grow. If you want to write, make sure you get bylines. If you want to show you can manage an event, plan something and see it through. An internship is an opportunity to build your portfolio with tangible things you’ve made happen. Your potential employer would rather see a real example of your work than another bullet point on your résumé.
Kate Crouse, director of digital media strategy
Intern experience: I interned for a small nonprofit in Houston as a PR intern. It taught me how to work in an office environment, what writing press releases in the real world was like, how to manage my time, and ultimately, it taught me a lot about what I didn’t want to do. I recognized that public relations wasn’t necessarily what I was looking for in a career, something much better to learn in an internship than a full-time job.
Advice: Lean into it. Take as many opportunities as you can get and meet as many people as you can. It is a great way to learn what you want and what you don’t want, to gain new experiences and make connections, and to prepare you for the real world.
Michaela Brandt, digital media strategist
Intern experience: After graduating, I moved to Dallas and took a chance on an internship at D Custom to build connections in a new city and figure out where to start a career in DFW. As I got to know the D Custom team, I realized I was right where I needed to be and transitioned into a full-time strategy position here.
Advice: Be willing to accept criticism. The people who are working with you are trying to improve you as an employee, and constructive criticism is a sign that they’re invested enough in you as a part of the team to see the value in your growth potential. No one expects you to come in knowing everything, but if you listen, look for more opportunities to learn, and ask questions constantly, you’ll absolutely grow — and make a good impression in doing so.
Cory Davies, director of client services
Intern experience: I had two internships when I was in school: one at a big advertising agency and one at a small boutique agency. Internships are a way to show agencies that you really want this job and you really want to be here. School has a very romantic view; in the real world, there’s a lot of grunt work. Having practical experience lets employers know that you are willing to do what it takes to be in the industry.
Advice: It’s never too early. A lot of times there are avenues to getting experience at the places you expect least. Even if you work at a sub shop or are part of a club at school, they all need marketing. Help out. One of the most important questions you will get asked in an interview is: Why do you want to do this? If you can tell them: I’ve helped promote an event at school, this was my target, these were the channels I’ve used, and this was my strategy for my messaging — the employer will be impressed.
3 Simple Ways to Stand Out When You Apply
Getting a top-notch internship experience means you have to score the position in the first place — also overwhelming. A few things that helped me get my foot in the door as an intern at D Custom:
- Don’t rush through your application. If you can’t be thorough as a candidate, how do your potential employers know that you will be thorough day to day as an intern?
- People want to know who you are and what you aim to get out of the internship, so keep your voice original so the hiring managers can get to know the real you.
- When you come in for an interview, be prepared. If you’re applying for an internship with D Custom, the D Custom blog should be the first place you go. Take time to read about current clients, the work that D Custom does, and your interviewer’s bio.
You can apply to the D Custom internship position through D Magazine’s internship application — be sure to note that you want to work with D Custom (you do!). The deadline to apply is Friday, April 13.
D Custom’s summer internship program begins Wednesday, May 23, and ends Wednesday, August 8. We’re currently accepting applications in our account services, digital strategy, marketing, and editorial departments. Apply here, and let us know if you have any questions!