You’ve done it. You've landed an internship, which is bound to give you plenty of job knowledge, valuable work experience and a ton of networking opportunities that are worth their weight in gold.
You feel elated. And you should be. After all, you hustled your way into it. It’s about time you slapped an S on your chest and sat back, right? Wrong. Getting an internship isn’t rocket science if you’re smart and ambitious, which of course you are. The tricky part, however, is to prove your worth.
Your employer took a chance on you. They’re going to spend their time and energy helping you navigate the content marketing industry and imparting a great deal of their knowledge. And you’re expected to assure them that the day they decided to hire you was the best day of their life.
That sounds like a challenge, huh?
Don't worry, though. If you follow the tips below, you’ll learn how to kill it in your content marketing internship.
Be in Charge of Your Internship Success
Meet your supervisor, Emma. She’s the one responsible for you. She’ll either make your internship experience exceptional or horrible.
After all, Emma is snowed under running all sorts of projects. And although the company decided to hire you to relieve other employees from the workload, Emma might have difficulty delegating some meaningful work to you. Worse, she might even treat you as another to-do item on her daily list of tasks, like getting you to make the coffee runs for her.
The good news is that it’s in your power to take charge of your internship and make it great even if your supervisor isn’t leveraging your skills. How? Walk the extra mile to support Emma in her day-to-day tasks and offer your help whenever you can. Give your best effort when delivering on mini-missions and build up your reputation as a reliable and trustworthy person.
Over time, Emma will tap into your strength and present you with increasingly challenging opportunities, making your internship rife with professional achievements you can later put on your resume:
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Decide on Your Internship Takeaway
In your content marketing internship, there are going to be several major things to take away:
- Job offer – almost 90% of interns receive an offer of full-time employment
- New skills and competencies – these will help you jumpstart your career
- Great experience to help you to decide on your career path – e.g., perhaps content marketing doesn't turn out to be your thing
It’s critical for you to set achievable and measurable goals before you even start your internship because you want to max out your professional value to prospective employers.
Unless, of course, you want to end up putting a point on your resume saying, Got the overhead projector ready prior to marketing meetings. In which case, you’ve completely blown your chance to use the internship to boost your value as a professional in the job market.
Set the Right Goals for Your Internship
Setting the right goals for your internship sounds easy – until you have to sit down and come up with them. Here are a few points and examples to inspire you and get the ball rolling.
1) Make Your Goals Feasible
You can send a song to a person, but you can't make them dance to it. In other words, there’s no point setting goals to which you can't hold yourself accountable.
- Right Goal: Write 10 high-quality articles each month.
- Wrong Goal: Acquire 10 backlinks a month through guest blogging. (You have no control over whether or not your articles will get published.)
2) Make Your Goals Quantifiable
It’s best to avoid setting goals which you can’t measure since you’ll never know if you’ve achieved your goal. Make your goals quantifiable by making them specific.
- Right Goal: Grow a company blog from 10,000 to 20,000 monthly visitors to improve brand awareness.
- Wrong Goal: Grow brand awareness by running a company blog.
3) Set Achievable but Ambitious Goals
The whole idea behind setting goals is to help you accomplish more than you would otherwise, so make sure you set goals that really push you to your limit. Playing safe can only take you so far.
- Right Goal: Develop and integrate at least three content marketing campaigns for one of the company’s web services.
- Wrong Goal: Compose at least three tweets a day to grow the company’s Twitter following.
4) Align Your Goals with Those of the Company
Your goals should be beneficial both to you and the company. If they don’t go hand in hand, most likely your efforts won’t have much of an impact on the company’s bottom line.
- Right Goal: Set up and manage a weekly content marketing podcast outputting 12 episodes in total.
- Wrong Goal: Rebuild a Yamaha 35 HP outboard engine.
5) Refine Your Goals with Your Supervisor
Once you’ve come up with your own internship goals, make sure you run them by your supervisor.
- Right Way: Hi Emma. There are a few goals that I’d like to achieve by the time my internship is over. Have a look. Are these feasible? Is there a way I could fine-tune my goals to make them more beneficial for the company and for me?
- Wrong Way: Hi Emma. I've finally finished solving my Rubik's Cube. Can you set some goals for me? I’ll need to put something on my resume once my internship is over.
6) Track Your Progress
Once you are all set with your goals, it’s a good practice to set milestones and check continually if you’re on track. Let’s say your output target for writing articles is eight per month. So that means you need to produce two articles per week.
To help you set milestones, you can split the writing process into three parts: research, outline, and writing.
- Right Way: Research and outline 2 articles by 5 pm Monday. Finish writing the first article by 5 pm Wednesday and the second one by 5 pm Friday.
- Wrong Way: Write 8 articles by the end of the month.
If you want to streamline the tracking process and avoid confusion, you can use a tool like Trello.
The best thing about Trello is that it lets you organize your project in a visual way to help you stay on top of things. You can set deadlines, keep notes and tag a person (e.g. Emma, for approval) in it. Pretty sweet, huh?
Also, if you have trouble delivering on your goals, don't sit around and whine. Be proactive, try to do things differently, and experiment. Or, of course, you can always ask Emma to give you some advice. 😉
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Show Up Early
In all probability, you lack both the experience and skills in content marketing (metrics analysis, SEO, inbound marketing, etc.) compared to the other employees. This means you’re not as efficient and you can’t deliver on certain tasks. And that’s okay because you’re an intern merely making your way up. Nobody has high expectations for you.
But the question is, do you want to be just an okay intern or do you want to be the best intern the company has ever hired? If it’s the latter, you’ll need to make up for your lack of knowledge and skills with effort.
Show up in the office before everyone else does. Usually you can go in an hour earlier to get a sizable chunk of your work done and set your priorities for the day. Same goes for evenings. Make sure you spend an extra hour of your time in the office before heading home.
You’ll feel respected by Emma as well as your colleagues. And even if you don’t deliver on your tasks and goals in full, no one will blame you because hey, you’ve done the best job you possibly could.
Take a Proactive Approach
The key to making your internship a success is being proactive. After all, companies want to hire someone who can contribute without being told exactly how to do it on every single project. Setting yourself a limit and stopping when a task is done won’t make you a rockstar content marketing intern. Nobody wants to approach an intern's desk and find them scrolling on their smartphones.
The problem is that you don’t have the right mix of experience and knowledge, so how can you possibly know how to be in control of things? There’s always a way.
Look for signs that your team needs a hand and offer your help. Oftentimes, you’ll hear your team members say something along the lines of, It’d be really nice if we had someone to do a competitor backlink analysis for our next campaign. And if you don't hear anyone say that, ask how you can help them. This is your chance to jump at the opportunity and fill in the gaps.
Go Above and Beyond
Picture this: your supervisor, Emma, assigns you a project to complete. You look it over and think you’ll be able to do it. And so you do. You deliver on everything that was asked of you, expecting nothing less than gratitude and admiration from your supervisor. In response, you get a casual thank you from Emma and are sent back into the mix to work on yet another project.
Ouch, that hurt!
Let’s see what happened here. Emma already expects you to deliver on your project. There’s nothing exceptional in your being able to complete your task. All good interns can do that. If you want to stand out, you need to over-deliver. On a regular basis.
A great way to exceed your supervisor’s expectations is to:
- Take on more responsibilities that go beyond your job description. For example, consider taking care of the company’s social media presence if there’s no one doing it already.
- Take ownership of new projects to demonstrate how psyched you are about your work.
- Volunteer for projects outside of your department to give some extra help to the company. For instance, if a salesperson within the organization gets sick, offer a hand.
- Put in some extra hours to work on a time-sensitive project.
Soak Up the Knowledge Around You
One of the benefits of an internship that you can easily tap into is learning about content marketing through the knowledge and experience of your seasoned colleagues. You’ll get to learn about the cutting-edge tools that content marketers use and how you can leverage them in your future career.
While it’s easier to be a wallflower and stick to other interns, make a point to communicate with the company employees (e.g., over lunch or a cup of coffee in the kitchen) to get a real sense of what it’s like to work in content marketing or other departments like product or sales.
Don’t be afraid to ask dumb questions — you’ll ask them anyway. But here’s a nice quote to remember:
The man who asks a question is a fool for a minute, the man who does not ask is a fool for life. ― Confucius
Still, asking questions doesn’t come easily to most interns. Because it means you have to admit that there’s something you don’t know. This could be particularly difficult if you’re surrounded by smart people whom you don’t want to think that you’re dense.
That’s a mistake. By not asking questions, you miss out on an opportunity to learn and build skills that will propel your content marketing career much faster. Most people would love to share insights and solid advice acquired over the years with someone who’s curious to learn. And genuine curiosity isn’t something that’s going to annoy your supervisor.
So dive in ― ask questions ― and learn as much as you humanly can.
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Ask for One-on-Ones
The best way you can improve professionally is through receiving feedback. Still, being an intern, you might feel anxious about asking your supervisor to give you sound feedback on your performance.
Sure, you can avoid speaking up and let the problems fester for weeks, which will deprive you of growing as a professional. Worse, your supervisor might think you lack a proactive approach and that you're not looking for ways to improve in the workplace.
This is okay for most interns. But not you.
If you want to max out your internship experience, you need to ask for meaningul feedback on a monthly basis. How? Write an email to your supervisor to schedule a one-on-one meeting. This way you give your supervisor the chance to think about it and give you some balanced and specific guidance on how you can improve.
Here’s what you can write.
Oh, and when you hear Emma mention there’s something you could improve about your performance, make sure you don’t let it slip. Set up a timeframe (30 days) to track how you’re improving on each point she gives you.
As a content marketing intern, you need to make it your priority to solicit feedback from your supervisor on a weekly basis. This way, you’ll allow for continuous self-improvement and professional growth.
Well, there you have it. Completing a content marketing internship is a great first step to jumpstart your career in the digital marketing field. It lets you gain some essential skills and get access to a ton of knowledge from your colleagues.
In return, be prepared to work hard and exceed the organization’s expectations if you really want to be a superb intern!