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Dec06

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Making the Most of the Bottom Rung

If you're interested in an internship at RT, I can assure you, you won't be sitting around making coffee - unless you're the one who kills the joe. The sign clearly reads "If you kill the joe, you make some mo" and you don't want to be around when Ron finds the caffeine tank on E. Besides that, it's all work. No special intern assignments or busywork. Real work. RT doesn't have your standard internship program, which means looser start & end dates and a flexibility with assignments that allows for the lines between intern and employee to blur, if not disappear entirely. It's baptism by fire, and you may find yourself getting more exposure than some full-timers elsewhere.

Regardless of where you're looking, here are some tips to landing that first gig and making a good impression once you get there. Some may seem obvious. Some may not. All are worth noting.

Know what you want.

Don't roll into an interview saying, "I either want to be a copywriter or an account coordinator." You're really saying, "I don't want you to hire me."

Your first gig may be the most important.

Your first place is where you learn your habits. Don't settle. Get in an agency that does work you admire. This economy is rough, but you'll be better off in the long run.

Remain cautiously persistent.

Persistence shows that you have determination and enthusiasm. Too much, and you'll have a restraining order to boot. Never leave a potential employer hanging, but never email more than once a week unprovoked.

You're never too good for a project.

The last thing any agency wants is a prima donna intern. They bring you in for fresh ideas and enthusiasm. Bring your A-game to everything you touch, regardless of what it is.

Network.

Play Ping-Pong. Go to happy hour. Socialize. Your agency status will be based on your work, but being likable can't hurt. Plus, those connections may help down the road.

Always shoot to exceed expectations.

If you ever utter the words, "I don't have to ______, I'm just an intern" you'll stay an intern. Go above and beyond. Come in early, stay late and work on weekends. If you're not going to give it your all now, when will you?

Be ready for anything.

Seriously. That's what's great about this business. There are plenty of moments where you reflect and say:  "There's no way anyone will believe I do this for a living." Anything from traveling to Denver for a shoot, to expensing lacquer, soap and a potato peeler after a failed attempt at making giant Viagra pills. You can't make this stuff up.

To learn more, go to our Fall Forum on Friday, November 16th. Click here to RSVP.

You can continue the conversation on LinkedIn and on Twitter (@RodgersTownsend #RTFallForum).