For recent college graduates, the post-grad job hunt can be discouraging. You’ve spent years in school learning your craft, only to find qualifications like “full-time, real-world experience” in nearly every entry-level job description (on top of your schoolwork and the standard 2+ internships). You feel stuck in a rut, wondering how you’re ever supposed to get “full-time, real-world experience” unless someone is willing to give you a lucky break.
When I graduated, I was looking to gain more experience before going after a full-time committed position. That’s when I found the Abel Associate Program, and it turned out to be the perfect fit.
The Abel Associate Program is a three-month, full-time paid internship where you become fully integrated on client accounts. The program offers hands-on, in-depth work experiences that help to grow your strategic thinking and communications skills, as well as your understanding of the professional world and business relationships. It’s a unique opportunity to give yourself a competitive edge over your peers – if you do it right!
Here are a few tips from my time as an Abel Associate on how to achieve success and stand out:
1. Soak up everything, and I mean everything.
You may have taken your last final, but you’re not done learning! Treat every situation, phone call, email chain, etc. as a learning experience. Look to your account managers and co-workers as mentors. Jump at every opportunity to listen, watch and learn from what they do. Observe patterns and take cues from how they handle different client relationships, crises, feedback, small talk, email etiquette – even small details that may seem irrelevant. For example, when I see our team send meeting notes, I’ve noticed that pulling out action items for both you and your client can keep everyone accountable and organized and then have made sure to mimic that with the meeting notes that I now send. The Associate Program is intended to teach you valuable communications and marketing skills, but it’s also meant to mold you into a young professional.
2. Don’t be afraid to take on new or unfamiliar tasks – instead, approach with enthusiasm and take the opportunity to learn.
You may not know how to do everything you’re tasked with, but that’s okay. The Associate Program is different from other internships in that you become an integral member of the team, tasked with relevant, challenging assignments that provide real value and support to accounts. As you learn you’ll be calling reporters, pitching stories, drafting columns and blogs, and joining client calls. If you do your research and ask intelligent questions, you’ll build trust with your managers and grow your skill set, making you a more valuable resource. People who are willing to jump in, try new things and learn on the job stand out.
3. Speak up and voice your interests.
When asked what accounts, activities or tasks interest you, be honest. You may not be handed that account or task right away, but your managers have a vested interest in your growth path. If they know your interests, they can look for opportunities or projects to pull you into that are a good fit. For example, I love blog writing – I expressed this to one of my managers, and several weeks later I was added to one of our digital content accounts and looped into the blog process. Speaking up and voicing your interests definitely pays off!
4. Make yourself indispensable.
At the end of each day, ask yourself, How did I contribute to the team today? If you weren’t there, would your managers and co-workers feel your absence? Make yourself indispensable by not only doing what you’re asked, but anticipating needs, taking ownership of the process and assuming equal responsibility for client deliverables. Be every manager’s dream, and try to take as much off their plate as possible to free up time for high-level strategy and business planning. Whether you decide to pursue a job at Abel or other company, at the end of your internship, you want your managers advocating for you to be hired full time.
5. Take it seriously, but don’t forget to have fun!
The Associate Program is an awesome opportunity to grow as a communications expert and professional. And while it’s important to work hard and get as much out of it as possible, it’s equally important to have fun and build relationships. Enjoy what you do and the people around you. Joke around when appropriate, grab a bite outside of work with your co-workers and celebrate each other’s wins. Positive energy and enthusiasm go a long way and help you stand out, both as a person and a professional!