Missing an internship application deadline did not deter Jasmine Turner ‘16 from missing out on an opportunity to go on a JWU tour of an advertising agency. That decision set her on her course as she made her college to career transition and just two years later she has been promoted at that same agency.
Her perspective offers valuable advice for students thinking about their future career paths and what’s needed to get there. Here’s Jasmine’s story:
Internships Are Essential
When first applying to internships, I didn’t have a full grasp on their importance. I nervously applied knowing I wanted to get involved in different experiences, but felt the process was very mandatory and nearsighted. It wasn’t until after I started my full-time position at Hill Holliday, that I realized the full potential of what my internship experience had done for my career path.
Internships are for you, not for your future career. Internships are a platform to gain a diverse range of skill sets and test various job roles to protect you from spending the next few years doing something that doesn’t fit your passion; the ability to taste test different roles without having to sign a full-time contract. What better way to trial and error without being trapped into a position?
During my junior year at JWU, as an Advertising and Marketing Communications major, I didn’t know what sector of industry I wanted to pursue. Without my:
communications internship at the Rhode Island Coalition for the Homeless
working as a graphic designer for the University Involvement Board
interning as a brand planner for the Women and Infant’s Hospital of Rhode Island
interning in platform media at Hill Holliday
I easily could have unsuccessfully picked any one of these paths without understanding the full role. There’s a difference between a job description and daily work life; what sounds good on paper may not be what you expect.
My interview process was quite the story. In April of 2016, I was on a Hill Holliday hosted agency tour with the JWU Advertising Club. I had missed the deadline for the Summer Internship Program, but was planning to apply for the Fall.
While in the department overview meeting, a manager from the Platform (Programmatic) Media team was finishing her presentation and from that moment on I wanted nothing more than to work on her team. At the end of her discussion, I asked a few questions about her day-to-day based on what I’d learned in my Digital Media Planning class.
Following the meeting, she pulled my HR as well as my Experiential Education & Career Services representative outside of the room. A few minutes later, I was interviewing with the Senior Vice President of the Platform Media team along with the manager who had recognized me during the earlier presentation. I was grateful to be added to the applicant pool and to be accepted into the Summer internship program. During internship, I worked hard and was later given an offer letter to start full-time in January of 2017.
How Can This Help Other Students?
Always ask questions. Karen Kaplan, CEO of Hill Holliday, once said to my internship class (on the topic of active listening), “If you’re not adding value to the room you’re in, then why are you even there?”
The JWU Advertising & Marketing Communications program allowed me to participate in a wide range of classes extending across my industry. This provided me with a well-rounded degree that, in my opinion, students don’t get the opportunity to have at other universities.
Never give up. It’s a cliche’, but it couldn’t be more accurate in the business world. Missing the Summer internship program deadline with Hill Holliday did not deter me from touring the agency two months later and actively researching the program for my Fall internship interview.The decision to attend that agency tour led to my internship and first job out of college. You never know what one meeting will lead to, so take advantage of these opportunities while at JWU.
Advice About the Interview Process
Be passionate, have a point of view, stress your work ethic, and be authentic. Businesses are looking for entry level students who know where they want to be, and have a perspective to back it up. I’ve come to learn that most businesses do not expect entry level students to have professional experience. What they do expect are for students to be malleable enough to learn and grow. You may not have all of the qualifications for the job requirements, but the majority of students who show a propensity for hard work and passion will get the offer over the other candidates.
Ask questions, take good notes, shadow people you admire, and raise your hand for new projects. Asking questions shows that you’re not afraid of letting colleagues know that you’d like more information on a topic. It proves you’re willing to learn and take action to get accurate answers. There’s a confidence in admitting a lack of knowledge, which everyone expects of someone at an entry level position. What makes a new hire stand out is actively taking his/her professional growth in his her/own hands.
Note taking does not stop in History class. I didn’t understand the importance of professional note taking until I started at Hill Holliday. There is a plethora of information being discussed in every meeting. Taking notes shows intent to learn and lets the room know you’re present. This will also help you build your relationships with people you admire since you’ll have relevant questions to ask them and information to refer to during your shadowing process. Just as we learn from professors, let industry leads teach you their tricks of the trade.
Shadow colleagues you admire. This will also lead to mentorship opportunities which is invaluable in any industry. One of the key actions that led to my promotion was raising my hand for any and every task. Although at times I was terrified of volunteering myself for something I didn’t know how to do, I quickly realized that was the best way to excel in my career. Disrupt your day-to-day by working on an incremental project. Challenging your comfort zone is the only way to grow.
Internships Provide Context
Having an internship provided context to my onboarding process. Across industries, the onboarding process is a balancing act: setting the new hires up for success with all of the information needed, while not overwhelming them due to a lack of context on the material being presented.
Interning at the same company, in the role I eventually accepted after internship, offered me insight into my position. Hill Holliday’s Human Resource recruiting team regards the intern pool as the first audience for vetting open positions. We strategically do this knowing it leads to a better onboarding process and career development, rather than the first few weeks being spent on learning items as trivial as the office layout, intern hires can jump right into the work.
Cultural shock is another reason interning is so important. There’s truth in finding a job that fits the student, not the student fitting the job. Along with adjusting to a new work environment, students are also adjusting to being on their own for the first time. The best way to cushion those impacts are building a foundation before entering that transition, which is done by interning beforehand, Knowing what to expect is a valuable tool.
Future Forward Thinking
Take advantage of the position you’re currently in. It’s been two years at Hill Holliday and I’ve grown from Assistant Platform Media Strategist to Platform Media Strategist.
The number one action I took was presenting my curiosity to my team; having the curiosity to continue learning, asking questions, and volunteering for incremental tasks.
Albert Einstein said: “I have no special talent. I am only passionately curious.”
Be the one to ask the tough questions that challenge the norm. Curiosity leads to innovation and the only way to be a part of the process is to express your unique perspective.
Future forward thinking is what separates those who get promoted. Constantly reflecting on your personal career path, and what it looks like five years down the road, will only help students in the long run. Having this future insight informs what steps are needed to reach those heights. The most available vision into your potential future is through a robust internship program.
Hill Holliday is a full-service marketing agency headquartered in Boston, Massachusetts. Their clients include Bank of America, Novartis, Planet Fitness, Party City, and other Fortune 500 companies.
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