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IHAVEANIDEA.ORG > ask jancy >  Internship vs. “future career path” discussion… HELP!

Internship vs. “future career path” discussion… HELP!

Help me Jancy!
I have just endured months of trying to land myself an internship to no avail, until recently I got my foot in the door at a small year-old agency. I have been in contact with the MD the last couple of weeks organizing the details of an internship.
Then out of nowhere I’ve received a reply to a letter I sent to a much bigger and more established agency a couple of months ago. They were “very impressed” and want to meet with me to discuss my “future career path”.
So now I have no idea what to do! The smaller agency have been nothing but helpful with my aspirations and I don’t think I could back out at this point.
I definitely don’t want to annoy people and burn any bridges before I’ve even properly started my career!
On the other hand, I feel like I shouldn’t pass up whatever opportunities the larger agency may offer.
Would it be too greedy to take on two internships at once – bearing in mind these two agencies are competitors?
Or is there another solution?

intro Internship vs. future career path discussion... HELP!It’s all good. If you’ve established that you’re accepting the internship at the small shop, don’t burn that bridge. Show up and be happy to have that opportunity to learn. You can also go have the interview with the larger agency and hear them out on how they may see you fitting in there. Your story to the bigger shop is you’ve already accepted another internship but you’ll be available for hire in 3 months (just guessing that’s the timing). If they make a full time offer and you want to accept, ask if you can fulfill your obligation to do the internship and start immediately after. If that’s a no, ask the CD at the small shop if they could forgive you for accepting a full time offer (any place that does internships is ultimately interested in the career success of their interns, whether it happens at their place or elsewhere, so they may graciously agree that the right thing to do is ok that choice). Ultimately it would be your call of course. A couple of other things: if you don’t have a firm offer and firm yes to it from the small shop, this is all murkier. There isn’t really a bridge to burn yet. In which case there’s nothing wrong with taking a firm offer from someone else. Another thing to consider: bigger isn’t necessarily better. The best opportunity for you could be at the smaller shop. Consider the way each place runs their internships. Some places really just make you helping hands for others. Ask specifically what you could expect as an experience. You might see you’ve already got the better gig in front of you.

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  • Heidi Ehlers

    Until it’s in writing, nothing is in stone.  Keep exploring both opportunities until you have a firm commitment (in writing) from one. 

    In the interest of full disclosure, make both parties aware of the entire situation.  Tell the party you are most interested in making the opportunity happen at, that they are your first choice, but you have another opportunity that you are in advanced discussions with.

    Everyone worries about burning bridges.  Here’s the reality.  Everyone worries about themselves.  So while you may think that the internet will be ablaze with the news that you’ve decided to take a position elsewhere, in reality what will likely happen is this:  Person 1: Oh that intern decided to go elsewhere.  Person 2:  Oh, too bad, where do you want to go for lunch? 

    And that will be it.

    To Jancy’s point, bigger and more established, doesn’t always mean better.  What you want to really understand when comparing the two opportunities, is which of the two will have the most positive impact on your portfolio within the coming months.  That’s one of the best ways to make that decision.

    The money?  Don’t worry about it.  At this stage, if you’re building your portfolio with great work, the money will come.

    Best of luck to you.

    ~ heidi

    Heidi Ehlers


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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