Turn your internship into an offer game board

After all the years of lectures, books, exams, and changing your major once or twice, you can finally start to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Time to start focusing on what comes next — your transition to the “real world” and #adulting. Exciting, right? If you want to gain experience and a leg up on your career, interning is a great place to start. In fact, that’s how I began my career with Two Rivers Marketing (2RM). Whether you’re a student, a recent graduate, or just looking for a fresh start, consider my experience as an intern-turned-employee and my tips to help turn your internship into a job offer.

Transitioning From Intern To Associate

The journey from intern to associate doesn’t happen overnight. For me, it all started with a recommendation from my advertising professor for a media planning and buying internship with 2RM. I applied, interviewed, and was chosen for the position.

Walking into 2RM as an intern for the first time was honestly terrifying —I didn’t know what to expect from a marketing agency. Shortly after, my fears were gone. Everyone was so warm, welcoming, and seemed genuinely interested in me and my success. I quickly learned that this was no seat-filler internship. You know the kind: a lot of sitting around, file this, copy that, and maybe a coffee run. Here, I was treated like a valued professional and was taking on actual work. For all intents and purposes, I was a media associate, and doing things like: 

  • trafficking (routing) advertisements
  • monitoring ad performance
  • producing client-facing metrics reports
  • attending meetings with clients and vendors

I kept asking to stay on longer than one semester as originally planned, and by the end of my senior year in college, I was working 35 hours per week. After applying and interviewing for a full-time position at Two Rivers, I was extended an offer — I accepted! Ultimately, it was the feeling of being part of the team that I felt couldn’t be matched anywhere else. On my first day as a full-time associate, I was greeted with a fully decorated desk littered with confetti, balloons, and flowers thanks to some awesome coworkers. Fellow associates would come up and say, “Congratulations on being full time!” or “Yay, adulthood!” While my job responsibilities would be the same, coworkers went out of their way to celebrate my first day as an official associate.

Turn Your Internship Into an Offer

While being an intern never guarantees receiving a job offer, there are a few things you can do to increase the likelihood of turning your internship into a full-time position:

Tips For Interns

1. Nail the Interview

You’ve heard the etiquette basics: Be on time, be prepared, bring resume copies, research the company, etc. That’s all solid advice; don’t get me wrong. However, I think the most important thing is to be yourself. Trite as it sounds, it’s so true. Your interviewers are absolutely interested in your qualifications, but they’re equally interested in you as a person. They want to know how you work with others and if you’d be a good fit in the company culture. As an interviewee, asking questions about the company’s culture should be high on your list as well. Here at 2RM, culture is huge. When we’re interviewing candidates, we’re looking for someone who is fun to be around. I’m not saying show up to the interview and sit backwards in your chair like a cool ’90s sitcom teen; my point is that in a creative working space like 2RM or similar companies, it’s okay to loosen up a bit. Leave the meeting having given your interviewers a preview of who they could be working with in the future.   

2. Be Curious. Ask Questions.

The best and most important advice I can give to an intern is to be curious and ask questions. You won’t be spoon-fed every opportunity as an intern; that’s rarely how it goes. You have to be willing to ask for a seat at the table every once in a while, even if it’s just to sit in on a meeting and listen. If there’s a topic you want to learn more about, speak up. There would be times where I would say “Hey, I would love to learn more about programmatic advertising,” and my team would send me articles or would give me the afternoon to research and write up a point-of-view document. Being curious is huge and it’s really appreciated by associates. Don’t be afraid to say you don’t know something; that’s expected. You really can’t be successful in your role unless you’re always wanting to learn and grow. 

3. Speak Your Intentions

When I was an intern, my team was small and there weren’t necessarily plans to hire a full-time employee. During the second semester of my senior year, I started to have conversations with my boss about creating a growth plan. We discussed what our team structure would look like if I were to become a full-time associate and the value I could bring. As an intern, I suggest being tastefully intentional in your discussions with your supervisor. Don’t assume they already know that you’re interested in a job once the internship is over. 

4. Showcase Your Value

Ideally, the work that you’re doing as an intern provides value to the team. Stop thinking like an intern; think like a hired associate. What can you do to showcase the value you would provide as a full-time employee? Remember, as an intern, you’re coming in at entry level. Look for things you can take off someone’s plate to give them the opportunity to work on other things and give them more room for their growth. In my case, there was not a full-time position open for me when I started as an intern. I showed my value and tried to make myself as useful as possible; the things I took off others’ plates became my own. Any time you can create the vision and showcase your value is really helpful (without overstepping, obviously).

5. Build Relationships

Of course, it’s very important to be professional. But at an agency, I think it’s important that you don’t think of your job as just a paycheck, just your 8:00 to 5:00, etc. Again, culture is so important. Build meaningful relationships with those around you. I learned so much from my coworkers when I was interning, like how they managed the graduation process, job-seeking advice, and what they were looking for in a new associate. There’s a ton to be gleaned from becoming close with those around you at an agency. Attend the potlucks, after hours, and other social events. Doing so also makes for a much more pleasant work environment. 

#Adulting is hard. But I hope my experience and advice as an intern-turned-associate inspires you as you set off on your journey to adulting. If Two Rivers Marketing sounds like a place where you’d like to work, head over to our current job openings page — we’d love to see you around. 

About Hope Waggoner

Hope Waggoner, a Drake University grad, plans and executes search, display, social, and video advertising. When she isn’t buying media placements, she enjoys watching “The West Wing” and attending happy hours. For all your media questions, reach out to Hope anytime at hopew@2rm.com.