Each year, the Halifax office brings on interns from local college and university programs to provide work experience and offer a peek into agency life. This year, we wanted to get a better sense of what it takes to make it as a NATIONAL intern so we sat down with Katie McBride, public relations intern and Jen Cahill, a production artist intern at the beginning, mid-way point, and at the end of their internships to find out.
In the beginning…
NATIONAL: You’re a NATIONAL intern, congratulations! Tell me about some goals you’ve set for yourself.
Katie McBride: I want to get the most out of this experience in as many ways as possible. I want to learn new skills and improve the skills I learned in school.
Jen Cahill: I’m hoping to learn from the experts at NATIONAL and see projects through from infancy to completion—break down creative challenges and figure out how to tackle them.
NATIONAL: There are many options for internships through your programs, what put NATIONAL on your list?
KM: Agency is where I’ve always seen myself and NATIONAL was always at the top of my list. I want the challenge, the experience, and the opportunity to use my training in a positive and supportive environment.
JC: I’ve had previous agency experience and a background in applied media arts but wanted a more PR-slanted perspective. The processes and vocabulary can differ so much and I knew I could find what I was looking for at NATIONAL.
NATIONAL: Any particular skills you’re looking to learn or improve upon?
JC: Aside from furthering my design technique and dabbling in some web design, I want to practice my client-facing skills, pitching creative, and presenting more.
KM: I want to develop client relationship-building skills. I’m also excited to get into the nitty-gritty of PR work—research and strategy development especially.
NATIONAL: Tell me about your NATIONAL internship so far.
KM: Busy! I’ve jumped into a bunch of projects and I’m loving it! I’m enjoying the research I’ve gotten to do, it can feel tedious but the productivity in it is obvious. The work is fast-paced and can be intense, but in the best way.
JC: I’ve got my feet under me now and I’m gaining confidence in my work. I’ve had the chance to follow the development of a new website from the brainstorming stage, to design, and on to presenting to the client. I love being part of the creative process, it feels invigorating.
NATIONAL: What have been your challenges so far? Successes?
JC: My shyness has been a challenge. I’m trying to find the balance between staying in my comfort zone and contributing my ideas. I’ve also enjoyed taking direction from a client, running with it and making it my own.
KM: I’m loving my role so far. I’ve been running social media accounts and the analytics have been great, so that makes me feel successful. It’s validating to have numbers back up the work you’re doing.
At the end
NATIONAL: It’s your last week as a NATIONAL intern! Tell me about what you’ve learned.
KM: I’ve learned that I love research, analytics, and social media management. The experience has confirmed to me that agency is where I’d like to end up.
JC: I’m more confident in my work and I feel secure asking questions if I don’t know something. I’ve learned that perfection isn’t mandatory and learning is about making mistakes sometimes.
NATIONAL: Have you reached the goals you set at the beginning of your internship?
KM: I definitely reached my goals. I’ve put myself out there, never said no to a project, and soaked up as much as I could over the past six weeks.
JC: I met my goals, worked on interesting projects from start to finish, and got to live out the agency experience!
NATIONAL: Any final thoughts or advice you’d offer to anyone wanting to be a NATIONAL intern?
JC: Working here is like playing a team sport. You’ll learn how to work with many personalities, navigate difficult conversations, and to stand behind the quality of your work.
KM: Be ready for anything! You could be at a press conference one day and help facilitate a focus group the next. Don’t be afraid to dive in and get the most out of your experience.