As I began my senior year at City College during the fall of 2021, I was eager to hit the ground running and be the best candidate for hire post-grad. I began to look for an internship where I could grow and flex my agency skills in addition to what I was learning in school.
In doing so, I came across an Austin-based strategy agency that was in need of an intern. My first interaction with Spectacle was clicking “apply” and my last task as their strategy intern is completing this blog post. As of this writing, I realized there are really no stories for strategy interns online. My journey at Spectacle is one of one, and I’d like to share my most significant takeaways from my internship in hopes that it will help future interns and anyone who is trying to grow in our industry.
1. Let people tell you no before you tell yourself no.
I was first introduced to Spectacle Strategy on an intern board hosted on my school’s ad/PR blog. At the time, Spectacle was only accepting local applicants, so being based in NYC excluded me from the candidate pool. I remember thinking to myself: “The world is remote now; it’ll be a miss for a strategy company not to adapt.” And so, I applied anyway.
Early into my spring semester, as I was continuing my search, I received an invitation to apply for the spring internship after the team noticed my resume.
2. Share your spark of creativity.
Whether you are in meeting rooms or 2x2 squares on Zoom, know that you’re there for a reason. Add to the pot of thoughts because you never know the synergy that can come from it. Everyone’s brain is different, and everyone has something to contribute. As an intern, strive to learn your team's process and work methods so you’re able to collaborate across the team. Your bravery will pay off.
3. Get ahead of the curve.
Schedule 1-on-1s with your team starting with your manager and then with any teams with whom you work closely. Ask questions and see how you can be of help if needed. Go through all past work that was submitted by or delivered to an agency’s clients, so you can be up-to-date. Cross-reference the brand's social media pages and website with your own knowledge of the brand. How are they showing up in the culture today?
4. Kick imposter syndrome to the curb.
Imposter syndrome is loosely defined as: “doubting your abilities and feeling like a fraud. It disproportionately affects high-achieving people, who find it difficult to accept their accomplishments. Many question whether they're deserving of accolades.” Imposter syndrome is a real thing and it can be especially troublesome as an intern. Don’t let it get the best of you.
The way I overcome this is by first stopping all movement, taking a breath, and engaging in positive self-talk. I become my own cheerleader and just do it (I see how Nike came about their tagline). Putting your work out into the atmosphere is better than contemplating if it’s good enough.
5. Ask questions and apply the answers!
We tend to overcomplicate things when there is no need. Utilize your team, utilize Google, ask the right people the right questions, apply your answers and findings, and you’ll come to your “eureka!” moment. Strategy is about the specific groups of people the brand seeks to serve. As a strategist, empathy and intuition are needed to uncover overlooked insights. Your questions and curiosity are what will get you to that point.
I hope that these five points help the person who fills my role at Spectacle, or anyone else who is trying to become a better strategist. These five pointers are also lessons that I apply to my everyday life.
I challenge you to add five more takeaways from your experience as an intern and/or strategist that’ll enable the next generation of creatives.
Always learning, Drew is a global traveler. He's pictured here at Chichen Itza in Mexico, one of the 7 Wonders of the World.