Why its hard to intern in advertising

The fate of interns in advertising

It’s a shame really. On one hand the advertising world claims that it is searching for fresh new talent to infuse the ranks with some energy, on the other hand it is still quite a challenge for an intern to get a summer internship. Interns that do manage it, come on the hefty recommendation of an agency client. I know. I’ve been there, done that, and have had the privilege of tutoring a couple of those kind of interns under me for a couple of years.

The problem with taking an intern into an agency environment boils down to plain fear. The agency fears that if they took any aspiring Tom, Dick or Harriet who are seeking an internship, there would be no guarantee as to what these people would be up to within the agency premises. Files go missing, PPT’s find their way onto intern’s pen drives. A security hazard that is difficult to solve what with the agency being understaffed and really no having the policing power to keep an eye on the interns or to tutor them properly. What’s more the tale could get more sinister. What if an agency competitor might have hijacked your intern? Your intern is in fact that agency’s intern and has come to get the low down on who you are pitching for and your strategy. It might sound bizarre but believe me I know a certain event management agency that asked media students to go and do such espionage during their internship.

So then does Ad Land turn its back to the future of advertising? I am especially impressed by those agencies who are taking pains to nurture the talent of tomorrow. I just read about Wunderman and how it is recruiting interns from leading media schools in New York and Singapore and training them in what is called the Z Academy. In India Mudra has started Mica and even LOWE I believe has a tie up with an academy. I wonder if students of these academies manage to get internships in their parent organisation and sister companies easily? What would be interesting would be to see students start their own agencies while they are doing their course. So organise your class and setup shop in the canteen. I am sure that with the variety of interests from film, copywriting, account planning and the guys who want to sell, for servicing, you could manage to run a small agency in class and on campus. As good a starting place as any, I think.

This said if there is any agency out there that regularly takes a leap of faith and selects interns from the masses do let me know and I will send some your way. In fact if you are an international agency and perhaps on Madison avenue I don’t mind interning with you if you can get me over. 🙂 For the rest of the Ad World, take something out of the leaf that Colvyn Harris has grown from and do something to nurture advertising talent in your own way.