Everything I know I learned from a marketing intern

Let’s face it, interns get a bum wrap.

They work hard, do some heavy lifting and receive little in return. They know they are paying their dues and dutifully do whatever you hand them.

Since they are an intern, after all, some people might view them as lightweights, only capable of handling menial tasks and only with an inordinate amount of direction.

In spite of it all, most maintain a positive attitude—their role is to humbly serve while they learn as much as they can.

At Outsource Marketing, we typically have anywhere from one to three interns at any one time. We’ve been extremely lucky—most are bright, capable and energetic.

They come to Outsource to learn from us—and learn they do. But we get so much more than just help on marketing projects in return:

  • We gain a perspective lost among our mostly 40-something team
  • We’re reminded that focusing on the fundamentals is oh so important
  • We learn that our way isn’t always the best way
  • And like a breath of fresh air, their optimism rubs off on us
  • I was reminded just how important our interns are to us last week, when Dinara Abilova, a University of Washington marketing major, really plused our weekly Huddle.

    First, she did a presentation called “Lost in translation” where she shared a list of brands that botched it when they moved into a foreign market. Multicultural marketing and marketing localization are immensely important, but an abundance of care is needed if you are going to take the leap into a new culture.

    I’ll share some of the multicultural miscues she shared in a later post, but the lesson we learned was that even veteran marketers working for established brands can get it wrong if they get sloppy.

    Next, Dinara played a game based upon the Power of 10.

    She asked a question such as “What percentage of American men think they look good in a Speedo?”

    We wrote our answers down, and if we guessed within 10 percentage points of the correct answer we got one answer right.

    Out of 10, the highest score was four. I only got one right.

    We learned something there, too: As marketers, no, human beings, we’re quick to follow our instincts. Sometimes what you might think simply couldn’t be further from the truth.

    I’d argue that’s often the case with perceptions regarding interns, as well.

    After all, aren’t some of the best marketers the ones that humbly serve and learn as much as they can?

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