Young Jamie Wilton (pictured below) just finished an internship at Leo Burnett in Sydney. In this guest post she reveals the top five things she learned (and not just the free food)…
Throughout my life I’ve been collecting experiences, because there is only so much you can learn from books. I’ve been lucky enough to spend a semester studying in America. I got the opportunity to travel to India and do some design work for small organisations in the middle of nowhere, I’ve bought super last minute plane tickets to see a band for a night. I’ve explored, I’ve made great friends along the way, and I’ve won $1500+ and plenty of meat trays at our weekly trivia outings. My latest adventure was taking on the Connect Strategy Internship at Leo Burnett Sydney and it just might be my favourite yet.
I applied to uni because dad said if I was studying I could live at home rent free. I had no idea what I was going to do with my life. I studied design and advertising – design because I was semi decent at it and advertising because The Gruen Transfer is amusing – and luckily through my uni studies I narrowed my career path down into the advertising industry. Still my heart was torn – strategy or creative. Most people go into an internship with hopes of getting a job out of it (I would like one! Hire me please Leo Burnett!), getting experience on your CV, and networking. I just wanted to work out what I wanted to do.
The internship taught me a lot of things so without further ado here are the top five:
You’re not stupid, it’s just that everyone else is more experienced than you
And after spending the first two days shadowing the elite, watching them produce magic from their mouths, I was worried I would never be able to. On the third day I sat in on a strategy review meeting and it was full of collaborating (read: disagreeing) to come up with the best way to present to the client. And then I realised that the magic is just experience. Don’t get me wrong, everyone at Leo Burnett is a super-genius, but it’s not unattainable and I know one day I’ll be just as great.
Uni to the real world – adapt or die
Go to uni for the theory, go for challenges, go for the networking but understand it can only prepare you so far. You’re going to start your new internship or job and everything you learned is going to flip. The real world doesn’t have criteria sheets, or set in stone deadlines. If you went to a good uni, and you had great teachers, it should have at least taught you how to be adaptable, and that can take you further in life than any ancient undisputed Aristotle rhetoric ever can.
Don’t be too proud but don’t be shy/ Ask the stupid questions but don’t be stupid
They say there’s no such thing as a stupid question, but asking the same question again and again is pretty stupid. Your supervisors don’t expect you to know everything, obviously, so ask questions if you don’t understand what they’re asking, if they use jargon you’re not familiar with or if you’re just not getting it – ask the questions. But remember they’re not there to hold your hand all the time and at some point you’re going to have to take the task and run with it. Trust in your knowledge and trust in yourself – no one is going to kill you for trying, and you’re probably way more capable than you realise.
Office life – the good and the bad or: why you probably don’t need to go to Specsavers two weeks in
I had never worked in an office before this internship and my only idea of an office environment was created from TV shows like Suits to Workaholics. I was terrified – I mean, what was I going to wear! Turns out Leo Burnett is pretty chill – free food, free drinks (I mean Diageo is one of their clients), a sick music selection and a pretty spectacular view. However, office life is not all fun and games. In the past month I have self-diagnosed myself with ADD (concentrating is hard work), drunk so much water I have peed more times than I am comfortable with, and thought I had ruined my eyesight in just two weeks from staring at a computer all day (I hadn’t, your eyes just need some time to get used to it, I checked.).
This is what I want to do for the rest of my life
I’m not naïve enough to think that if I pick strategy now that’s what I’m going to be doing forever. I’m adaptable and I’m always open to new experiences, but for once in my life I have a direction that wasn’t picked for me or picked for external reasons. It’s incredibly and oddly satisfying, and out of all the things I have learned from my experience at Leo Burnett – that is the most rewarding one.
Thank you to everyone at Leo Burnett and especially the guys from the Connect team, it’s gone by too fast.