How to land your marketing internship
Written by Griffin Lilley, Digital Intern at Raygun
Hey, I’m Griffin, and I’ve just completed my second year at Vic studying Marketing and Economics and a summer interning at Raygun – a B2B SaaS (Software as a Service) company based on Courtenay Place, Wellington. The couple of months I was there were overwhelming and quite intense, but I gained some tremendous experience.
For me, the whole Summer of Biz process was amazing but also nerve-wracking as I didn’t do it with any mates. This actually worked out quite well, as it made me focus on talking to employers and not wasting the limited time I had.
This blog post is going to cover my journey to a marvelous internship, and what I learned along the way about increasing the chances of getting the internship you really want.
THE TRUTH about what employers are really looking for
It’s not all about grades
The first thing I realised is that university does not teach you how to implement day-to-day marketing (sorry VBS). This was a surprising fact for me as it meant that there is an even playing field between second year and above as employers have to teach you everything for your internship. The main takeaway was that it doesn’t matter if you are an A student or a B student, they are asking, “Can I teach this person, and will they listen?”
Is Marketing really for you?
Before we get into the nitty-gritty, I want to ask you, “Do you actually like marketing?” If yes, why, apart from university, have you not completed any real-world marketing? e.g. running Facebook ads or creating content for a business. You would be surprised at the amount of small to medium-sized businesses that need help managing their social media accounts. If you are lucky, you can even make a buck and a half. Just getting the experience is an investment that will pay off exponentially.
Tip: A great way to gain extra insight into how to properly implement marketing strategies in the real world is the Summer of Biz events.
Put yourself in their shoes
The benefits of gaining experience in implementing real-world marketing strategies does not stop there. Everyone is coming out of university with just a degree and no real marketing experience which means that even if you have a little you’ve got something on the guy with only a degree. This makes you much more employable as well. Employers recognise people that are keen to be marketers and will prefer them over someone who has just gone through the motions of their degree. The best way to put this is if you want to be a marketer, why are you waiting until you finish your degree until you start?
A note on CVs and your Profile
I don’t think I can offer too much in the CV and profile department. My advice would be to go to the workshops as they will tell you much more than I can about how to nail this part.
How to prepare for the Meet and Greet
So seeing as you’re reading this blog post, you’ll be either going – or thinking about going – on the Summer of Biz journey. They host tons of events during the year, with the most important being the Meet and Greet. Going to it is extremely important. Even if you’re on the waiting list, turn up at the normal time because chances are you will get let in shortly after.
Give your nice shoes a polish
Preparation for the event involves research by looking at the marketing the businesses are currently conducting and find 1. something you think they are doing well and 2. something you think they can do better. This allows you to have a conversation starter and even if you are wrong, it shows the initiative you have and how you want to get a job with them. During the event, I would recommend having business cards. To build up your confidence, I suggest talking to your lower priority businesses first, then mid-way through the day talk to your favourite.
How to answer the hard questions
While you are talking with businesses at the Meet and Greet, there is a high chance you will get asked the question, “What do you want to do?” The most common answer to this question is, “I don’t know.”
Don’t get me wrong, it is completely reasonable to have no idea about what you want to do. But, “I don’t know” means that any business you are talking to can’t see how you would fit into their team or what benefit they can give you. I would recommend working out what kind or aspect of marketing interests you and say, for example, “SEO seems like a cool aspect of marketing I am keen to learn more about.” As a side note, don’t say you ‘know’ you’re interested in it, as chances are you don’t know because you haven’t done it yet. (Unless you have of course, but be able to back it up as they’ll ask a lot more about it). Just be as honest as you can, as they know we are students who don’t have much experience and could easily call you out if you spin too large of a yarn.
Turn the tables on ‘em
Now, the real trick with businesses when they are grilling you is to turn the tables and ask them this fantastic question: “What problems are you currently experiencing?” Or, “What problems do you have that I could help you with?” This is where you can start to shine and see whether you are a good fit for the company. Overall, the Meet and Greet event is a great, yet nervous experience, and an easy way to meet potential employers with no pressure or expectation from you.
How to prepare for the interview
If you manage to nail the Meet and Greet and get some interviews lined up, fantastic work – reward yourself by sleeping in ‘till 12 pm because chances are, once you nail those interviews, your opportunities for sleep-ins are going to disappear.
Here are some easy tips before we get into it. My first tip is to make sure you prepare a lot for those interviews especially when they say you don’t need to. That is what happened with my Raygun interview. They told me not to prepare, so naturally, I prepared. I assumed no-one else would, and I was right, which gave me the edge in the interview.
A classic interview question that you might get asked is, “What are you going to do if you have a deadline for a project and there is no way you will be able to finish it in time?” Personally, I see this question as a bit of a stitch-up because the first thing that comes to any student’s mind is, “I’ll just pull a couple of all-nighters,” The correct answer to that question is: “I will ask for help.” That is what people do in a real marketing team – they help each other out.
Don’t underestimate cultural fit
When a business is interviewing you one of the major aspects they will evaluate you on is your cultural fit with the company. To clarify, cultural fit relates to how you as an individual with your unique personality would fit in the current culture of the business, and whether you compliment each other or not. Cultural fit is quite an interesting evaluation criteria that I completely underestimated, and got lucky during my interviewing process with Raygun as I didn’t prepare for it. It does make sense though. Why would you want to hire someone who doesn’t fit into the culture?
Only after I had discussions with Nick, the Director of Marketing who interviewed me, around what I did and didn’t do well, he emphasised how I seemed to be a great cultural fit. This is where I asked the question, “How did I fit into the culture that you have in Raygun, I was just being my unique self?” The main aspects of my personality that resonated with them were my enthusiasm and positivity as they reflected well with what anyone would want in an intern.
These qualities reinforced my interest and motivation to learn more about marketing. I was dying to carry out some proper marketing rather than the conceptual aspects of marketing I completed in university. So to nail cultural fit, just be yourself and show your enthusiasm for marketing in general.
Just a bit of luck
I should probably end by saying that I have been fortunate to accidentally communicate most of these during my first year in Summer of Biz and only messing up one of my interviews. Also, I’ll add that this is just my personal experience, make sure you are adaptable and try put your own spin on the way I did it. The last thing I would say is everyone better not do this otherwise my chances of getting an internship next year will be significantly lower.
My internship in a nutshell
Here are some of the highlights of my internship so far:
- Lots and lots of general marketing
- Social, Linkedin especially
- All that good stuff
- Tracked down the elusive owner of the @Raygun twitter handle and will be finding out in the next few days whether she wants a trade
- Created a website from scratch called Lightspeed Awards
- Give it a cheeky look because it took me quite a bit of time
- It isn’t finished yet as I still need to optimise for mobile
- Created a video