Internships usually go one of two ways. Either you’re treated as a glorified gopher who’s expected to take on all the grunt work, or if you’re lucky, someone will take you under their wing and nurture your development.
Our Digital Marketing Specialist Jess Bacon has been on both sides of the coin. Four years ago, she was on the cusp of graduating with a degree in Marketing and Finance when she began to seek out internship opportunities.
“It was important to me that I get hands on experience in an internship capacity, but my first internship at a financial planning office was not what I was expecting,” Jess said.
“I was filing paperwork and told to complete admin tasks. I was more an assistant than an intern. I didn’t really get any opportunity to learn”.
When she later secured a copywriting internship with Distl (then known as BirdBrain), she knew she had found the right place for her.
“Our copywriter at the time was my mentor and she managed my internship. She gave me in depth feedback and continually pushed me to do great work. The whole marketing team really supported my development, I learned something new every day.”
Over time, she was exposed to different parts of the business and was able to learn from other skilled team members, until eventually she put herself forward for a permanent role. What started as a part time position quickly turned into full time employment, and now four years later, Jess is one of the most highly skilled digital marketing specialists in our team. As part of her continued development, she has also taken on a role in our leadership team as Culture Lead.
“The internship taught me from the ground up. I was able to practice the basics over and over until it became natural. Understanding the core fundamentals so well has helped me immensely when communicating with my clients,” Jess shared.
“I knew as soon as I started here that this was the place I wanted to stay. The culture is supportive, it’s one of knowledge sharing and collaboration, and that resonates so much with me. I want to continue to promote that in my role as Culture Lead.”
More recently, our Account Support Joel Cook completed his internship with us when he was fresh out of university. Being a graduate during COVID-19 came with unique challenges, and Joel quickly realised he had to be proactive in finding opportunities to gain hands on experience.
“An internship gives you a taste of everything. It helps you discover which direction you want your career to head in. At Distl, I got exposed to everything the agency does and how they do it, while also gaining an understanding of the wider industry,” Joel explained.
“I think it helps to start your career as an intern, especially straight out of university. You aren’t expected to know everything. No question is a stupid question. People understand you’re still learning, and they’re prepared to share their knowledge with you.”
Upon completing his internship, Joel was offered a full-time position with Distl as Account Support to enable him to continue his learning and development.
“I decided to take the role not only for career progression, but also because of the great culture and people. Everyone is friendly and welcoming, making it a great environment to continue to learn and develop as a marketing professional,” Joel said.
Our Technical SEO Sam Driessen took a slightly different path to Jess and Joel. While he also began his journey with us as an intern, he didn’t make the leap to agency world by applying for an internship in the traditional way. He already had some life and career experience under his belt and had recently completed a Digital Marketing Diploma that gave him a theoretical understanding of the digital space. Looking to apply his knowledge and gain practical experience, Sam was open to the idea of an unpaid internship.
“I googled “digital marketing Perth” to get a feel for the agencies that were out there, what kind of work they were doing and how they approached digital. Distl (then BirdBrain) was the only company that resonated with me,” Sam said.
“They were taking a tailored approach to digital, delivering bespoke work for each client. I reached out, asking for a chance to get my foot in the door and our Director David Metcalf replied to tee up an interview later in the week”.
A senior SEO specialist mentored Sam one-on-one, enabling him to build his skillset and understand the practical applications of his learnings. Four years on, Sam is now our top SEO expert and a key member of our leadership team. As his internship gave him the opportunity to understand how we operate at Distl, he found it advantageous to continue with the same agency.
“The internship taught me a great deal about SEO and digital marketing, but it also gave me valuable insight into how agencies run,” Sam explained.
“Getting hired after my internship meant that I could hit the ground running. If I’d taken a role elsewhere, I’d have to take time to get up to speed with their systems and processes”.
Based on their experiences, all three of our past interns would recommend today’s university students complete an internship before graduating to help set themselves up for the future.
“There will be more opportunity and less competition if you get in touch with agencies that aren’t advertising positions. Seek out agencies doing the kind of work you’re interested in and ask if they’re open to showing you the ropes,” Sam said.
Even if you’ve already pursued a career in another field and want to make the move to marketing, you can still apply the same approach. At Distl, we tend to offer 3-month internships on an annual basis with the intention of hiring if the candidate has shown promise and demonstrated they are the right cultural fit. As a full-service agency with in-house specialists, we can expose interns to every part of our business, offering mentorship to support your learning and development.
If you want to stay up to date with our latest internship and job openings, follow us on LinkedIn today.