Advice for ‘Marketing Interns’

three people sitting in front of table laughing together

Like starting any other job, you start as a marketing intern to learn new things, make connections, and learn about marketing. While you’ll be assigned tasks to complete, what happens in the background may shape your skills more than any assignment. Here is our advice for marketing interns on making the most out of this stage and using it as a springboard to future opportunities.

Learn as much as you can

That is good advice for everyone, but especially for marketing interns. For marketing interns, learning as much as possible means learning marketing. Marketing requires a lot of techniques, and there is a lot of disagreement about what techniques work. Marketing companies have a lot of secrets. A marketing intern’s job is to learn everything they can about marketing to work for a company and learn something more specific.

But the marketing industry is vast. It is a vast field. An intern cannot hope to learn everything, at least not in the time available. So the best strategy is to learn as much as possible about marketing.

Marketing is a science, and like all sciences, it has its unique jargon and its version of the scientific method. A few skills you can learn as a marketing intern include:

● Company experience

● Effective time management

● Teamwork experience

Be Open-minded

An essential skill for marketing interns is open-mindedness. Marketing is a broad discipline, and you never know which part of the discipline you’re going to be working in.

In the early days of Google, business was dominated by a marketing game called “spray and pray.” A lot of Companies used to spend a huge money on ads, hoping they would hit a target. It was a recipe for waste. In 2000, Google decided that instead of blasting ads at everyone, they should match ads to searches. They developed a complex algorithm that analyzed the text of individual ads and searches to figure out what people were looking for. It didn’t work perfectly, but it was a considerable improvement. Now Google has made similar advances in online advertising, and it’s becoming the standard. But it still isn’t the only game in town. Today, marketing is a much richer field, with many different innovative approaches. Some companies use sophisticated algorithms to cross-sell (sell you something you didn’t ask for). Some use sophisticated databases of customer preferences to “retarget” (show you ads tailored to the things you recently looked at). Some use sophisticated data analysis to figure out what people are likely to buy. Some use sophisticated search to find information people are looking for.

That’s why marketing interns need to be open-minded. If you spend your whole summer working on one kind of marketing, and someone comes up with a radically different approach, you might not be ready. Click here to read the confession from a recently graduated marketing intern.

Ask for clarity when confused.

In marketing, which has always been thought of as an art, the conventional wisdom is that everyone does it the same way. There are usually two different approaches to marketing, and it pays to know which one you’re taking. One approach is a craft. Craft marketers focus on making things. They make brochures and websites, they design logos and brand identity, and they place ads. The other approach is strategy. Strategy marketers focus on figuring out what to make. They think about their customers, they study the competition, and they develop strategies. Both approaches have their place: Craft marketers often need to work with strategy marketers, and strategy marketers sometimes need to work with craft marketers. But only one of them fits. The mistake many marketing interns make is trying to do everything. They’ll ask their supervisor for a copy of a template, only to be told, “Sorry, we don’t have a template. Marketing is personal.” Good marketing interns ask questions: “What exactly is the customer problem?” “What’s the competitive landscape?” “What’s the strategy?” “What’s different about your product?” Marketing is, in fact, personal. So be personal. Ask questions. Because if you don’t, you won’t learn anything.


Marketing internships are very valuable, especially if you get one in a company you’d like to get a job with after college. The experience you gain, the contacts you make, and what you learn will help you in other parts of your career. Your internship won’t be a magic bullet. You won’t suddenly be a marketing expert. But you will pick up enough knowledge to make sense of what your boss or co-workers are talking about, and it will influence how you think. Most importantly, you will learn something about what marketing is. How it is practiced, and what it is. You can also read on how to become a marketing manager here.

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