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IHAVEANIDEA.ORG > ask jancy >  Internship over a job: how stupid is that?

Internship over a job: how stupid is that?


I’m a young junior art director, fresh out of portfolio school in the US and I have a dilemma, an envious dilemma, but still a dilemma. I have an internship offer from one of the best agencies in the world, but I also have a couple other JOB offers from smaller shops that do cool work and seem really cool to work for.
I’m sure the stellar shop would look amazing on my resume, but there’s no guarantee that a job offer will come from it, in fact I’ve heard that they rarely hire interns. I’ve talked to many of my peers about this situation and all their ears perk up at the mention of the internship, even though they all agree the smaller shops would both be amazing places to start.
So would it be idiotic to take an internship offer over a job? I’m starting to think so.

intro Internship over a job: how stupid is that?First let’s be clear that we don’t have the answer. And this is the best dilemma we’ve been asked about. What a great position to find yourself in. A few observations: You must be very good to have this decision in front of you, and no matter what your choice, if it doesn’t pan out to be a happy one, other opportunities will be waiting later. So, relax. In a very real way, you can’t go wrong. Ideally, we’d go with whichever scenario offers the best conditions for your development. Get clear on the landscape in each option. Important questions to answer are, who would you be working with? (some places would make a junior a “floater”—no partner. Better to have a partner, generally). What will your responsibilities be? From one agency to the next, that could range from assisting the seniors to assurances of opportunities to work on some of the best projects. What kind of contact can you expect with the creative director? If you wouldn’t much cross paths with that person, is it still a great offer? Beyond that, does the agency mentor juniors or are they left to figure it out entirely by osmosis?

We’ve had juniors chose our internship over full time offers based on knowing we offer a better than average setting for juniors to learn and succeed. So we don’t think it’s nuts to take the internship over the “real” job. If the star agency is known for nurturing juniors, it may well be a springboard into a great career in spite of the short stay. On the other hand, we know of top agencies that are poor environments for juniors, who have little to show for their internships. The name does look great on the resume, but if your book isn’t better for the experience, you haven’t helped yourself much.

So do your homework, and pinch yourself. You sound like a winner right out of the gate.

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About Jancy

'Jancy' is Janet Kestin and Nancy Vonk, Co-Founders of Swim, a unique “creative leadership training lab for advertising creatives and marketers.” Prior to Swim, Jancy was globally renowned as the Co-Chief Creative Officers of Ogilvy & Mather Toronto, a position they held for thirteen of the twenty years they were a creative duo at the agency. Over the years they've racked up Cannes Lions, Clios, One Show pencils and CA credits, and have lead their shop to two Cannes Lions Grand Prix and a Grand Clio. They've judged CA, Cannes, D&AD, the One Show, the Clios and other prestigious award shows. Creativity named them two of the top 50 creative people of 2008. Known for their outspoken, no-bullshit style and a passion for mentoring juniors, they're ready to give you advice if you're ready to take it.

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