Internships: advice on how to break into the industry (baseball bat optional…)

The journey from graduation to landing a position at an agency can be difficult, frustrating and a waiting game. Our intern, Claudia, talks about her personal experience, and how she found herself smashing TVs with a baseball bat (read on!) on a client shoot… 

After studying Visual Communication at Bournemouth Arts University, I was eager to step into agency life. I was passionate about design and creativity and after many career talks and conversations, I was advised to look for client service jobs within a creative agency as a starting point to gain further understanding of the interworks of agency life! While I was aware that the creative industry was competitive and hard to break into, with my degree under my belt I felt pretty confident – arguably overconfident!

However, I found that the most effective way of gaining traction and starting conversation was through messaging companies and agencies directly. There was a shared feeling of rejection from my peers and I, especially among my course mates, the creative industry (from experience – personal and peers) is a very hard industry to get into. Some eventually gave up looking for jobs they wanted but rather jobs they needed and what was offered to them.

Before starting my internship at Pollitt & Partners, I had a rough idea of what to expect – both my parents are in the creative field and gave me some insight into what my experience may be like.

I was initially in touch with Pollitt & Partners when I started a conversation with them via email, I was invited in to the office for a careers talk, I was so touched and thrilled to hear some advice. Feeling rather nervous but also excited, I made my way to the office on a sunny January afternoon, and met with Nick and Polly… this careers chat soon turned into an offer for a place as an intern at Pollitt & Partners!

Regardless of this I was still nervous, I didn’t know what was expected of me and I was eager to impress my colleagues. I was so excited to get in, get my feet under the table and start learning new skills and be apart of a team! I wasn’t particularly nervous but it was more about finding my feet first. I have definitely enjoyed the gradual increase in responsibility.

A normal day as an intern at Pollitt & Partners consists of observing and engaging in client meetings, learning new skills across client support, finance, and assisting members of the client service team. While in the learning stage of anything, a huge amount of perseverance and support is needed in order to actually learn, getting it wrong is part of that process, I have found that my colleagues at Pollitt & Partners have treated me with encouragement and warmth when I have messed up or when asking what feels like a ‘silly question’, advice has always been offered and I have regular one-to-ones with other members of the client service team and my line manager.

“If you aren’t sure on something, be tenacious, try and sort it yourself and then if that fails, just ask! Take ownership in what you’re doing, no job is too small!”

As part of my internship I write an article which I send out to the rest of the office every Friday, I decided to name this ‘Food for Thought Fridays’ and normally it consists of something I have learnt that week, it’s also a chance to start up a debate, or give an opinion, I am very grateful for this; as the most junior member of any company it is very rare to be given the opportunity to express a view and have an input into company decisions! At Pollitt & Partners we all participate in a group activity for the last hour of every Thursday, we call this ‘Creative Review’. Every week consists of something different, whether that be an external talk or an internal tutorial from a member of the team, it gives an insight into what the other parts of the company are getting up to and can boost knowledge of transferable skills among all teams which can be very helpful.

Sometimes we venture out together and have a mini ‘field trip’, our most recent adventure was run by our Commercial and Operational manager Pippa who has a huge interest in art and culture, she took us to a local national museum which displays art collections ‘The Wallace Collection’, we had a private tour from Pippa followed by some drinks at the pub – it was a great opportunity for everyone to get to know each other on a more personal level and have fun!

“I highly enjoyed the hands-on, practical side of doing things on set, and meeting everyone. It was my first experience being on a photoshoot and being part of the ‘behind the scenes’ team, and it’s safe say, I learnt a lot.”

If I was to give anyone advice, including myself if I was to go back and restart my internship, it would be: make yourself as indispensable as possible, always offer help no matter how small the job is. Over communicate: if you don’t over communicate with people, they won’t know that you have the capacity to help! Ask questions: if you aren’t sure on something, be tenacious, try and sort it yourself and then if that fails, just ask!

As part of my internship, I have been heavily involved in one of our healthcare clients. For this project I was a part of the team in the developing stages of a photo/video shoot all the way through to the photoshoot days. Spending two days off site at the venue shooting with a cohort of 30 people was such a fun experience. I highly enjoyed the hands-on, practical side of doing things, meeting everyone. It was my first experience being on set and being part of the ‘behind the scenes’ team, and it’s safe to say, I learnt a lot. To see the complexities of shots, timings, and intricate detail it takes to make a film was so insightful to observe.

Post-shoot the team established the main reason why everything was so smooth sailing was not necessarily due to things going to plan, but how we adapted to necessary changes, I think there was a conscious effort amongst the production and Pollitt & Partners team that if need be, we always had a back-up plan.

Having been an intern at Pollitt & Partners for six months, I would say it has been a great learning curve, I feel as though I have had a great introduction into the creative industry, and it was a very gradual experience, I think an internship is a brilliant starting point for anyone who is unsure what specific path they want to go down. It allows for a widespread knowledge and understanding of the different aspects of specific job roles and what that may consist of within an agency and gives you a well-rounded experience with transferable skills.