I am Julia and I am working full time as the Account Executive Intern for a small Yorkshire-based advertising agency, SHARP. At the time of writing I’m just over three months into the placement.
I live in Leeds and commute to Huddersfield every day. I’m paid £180 per week. Some of my responsibilities so far include:
- Managing the company database of contacts.
- Producing a weekly analytical competitor review for one of the agency’s largest clients.
- Social media management for a small local client.
- New Business Team member: attending the weekly New Business meetings with agency partners, recording minutes and circulating, flagging any potential new leads, working closely with the Account Executive to action anything triggered by the meeting often at short notice, sending out mailings to prospective clients, updating the database as required.
- Ad hoc tasks for the accounts team including: undertaking research and presenting findings in Keynote presentations and Excel spreadsheets, field research in advance of a new business pitch, proof-reading and doing artwork checks, participating in a brand strategy workshop, participating in a workshop with students and presenting in the client meeting.
- General office tasks: answering the telephone, monitoring office materials, placing orders on behalf of colleagues, organising in-house events e.g. Macmillan Coffee Morning, collecting daily post.
- Writing content for the agency blog and uploading content onto WordPress.
How I got the job and advice I’d give to anyone wanting to do a similar role:
I don’t study a business or marketing subject at uni (I do BA Linguistics and Philosophy), which all the agency’s previous interns had, so I think what made me stand out was my work experience and extra-curricular pursuits which gave me a lot to talk about in the interviews.
I’ve worked in part time retail and catering roles, worked full time in several administrative office roles and in the summer of first year I interned in the London office of a global PR firm by applying speculatively – this is something worth giving advice on:
Finding internships in first year is hard because everyone advertises for 2nd years and older. I just typed in ‘PR companies in London’ into Google, wrote a list and sent out about 40 emails / physical speculative letters tailored to each company. Only a couple replied but the effort paid off and I think this initiative impressed my placement interviewers.
I also wrote and edited articles for one of Leeds Uni’s media societies in first year (Her Campus), and then became Co-President in 2nd year. In my interview I was able to talk in length about all the skills I’d gained from managing a team of 70 people, and I took in a copy of a promotional flyer we’d designed which gave them something physical to remember me by. I genuinely think this experience was my key selling point and I’d advise anyone wanting to do a similar role to try and get onto the committee of a media society at uni.
I also know that having done lots of jobs before, I had lots of competency-based interview experience, so I wasn’t very nervous and knew what to expect.
Main positives of the placement so far:
- I get to work with some creative, talented and interesting people every day. I’m learning a lot about how the industry works and having fun in what is a very inspiring office. It’s the top floor of a converted mill and we often listen to music and sometimes crack open a beer from the bar which is a permanent fixture! There are also several perks like being paid to attend an awards ceremony and a copywriting conference, and getting a free lunch once a week.
- I also get to work with the four partners of the agency on a daily basis. They have all worked in some big agencies and I’m learning from their expertise. I also think that working for a small agency is allowing me to have more of an impact than I would have had if I’d done something similar in London. When I do something well word seems to get around, so I have different teams aware of my skills which I can only hope will benefit me as time goes on!
- I am busy all the time – there is never a dull moment.
- I have all my evenings and weekends free to see my friends who have gone into third year and live right on my doorstep.
Negatives of the placement:
- There are some mundane tasks, but doing these with a positive attitude has positive consequences!
- It has taken time to prove myself with certain tasks, but I’m getting more and more responsibility as time goes on.
- I’ve had to stay late and work through my lunch breaks a few times – sometimes needs must!
- Agency life can definitely be high-pressure. A lot of my superiors commit some serious overtime to their jobs and I’m going to have to consider carefully whether I’m willing to make similar sacrifices in my future career.
Don’t expect to love your placement right from the get-go – it takes a while to adapt to the way people work, learn all the lingo and settle into a completely new industry. After a while though you find the day-to-day tasks are much easier than you found at first, and getting to know your colleagues obviously has a huge impact on how much you enjoy going to work every day. These things take time, so it’s important to persevere through the first few weeks and don’t be afraid to ask for help.
Be aware of how little holiday you’ll get throughout your placement year. The holiday allowance for any job is around twenty days which is what I’m getting and the reality of being in Leeds over most of Christmas, Easter and summer when everyone else goes home is a bit daunting, but I guess good practice for later life. Commuting can also take its toll after a while, but this is definitely something everyone needs to be able to do.