What You Learn in a Marketing Internship That Your $100K College Degree Doesn’t Tell You
Are you currently a marketing university student working hard to earn your degree, or a recent graduate wondering about your next steps? Have you ever questioned what you’ve truly learned during your time at uni? Undoubtedly, university is essential – it provides diverse knowledge, introduces you to new friends, and expands your professional network. But what if I told you that your expensive college degree might not cover everything you need to thrive in the real world, especially in the dynamic field of marketing?
I recently completed an internship with Robotic Marketer, an innovative AI-driven marketing company. And let me tell you, it was an eye-opener. Here’s a candid list of things I learned during my internship that my marketing college degree didn’t prepare me for:
The Importance of Adapting
In university, we dissected marketing theories, analyzed case studies, and memorized the four Ps (product, price, place, promotion) to memory – more theories that one could bear. However, firsthand learning goes beyond theory. It’s not just about acquiring knowledge; it’s about applying what we’ve learned. Whether through completing tasks or engaging in simple conversations with co-workers, we absorb wisdom from real-world experiences.
When I first started my internship, I quickly realized that theory alone won’t cut it. The market is a living, breathing organism, evolving faster than a viral TikTok trend. While theories provide a foundational understanding, reality often diverges from textbook scenarios. Rigidly adhering to theories might not always be the optimal solution. External factors continuously impact marketing strategies, and marketers must constantly adapt to these changes.
As marketing students, we learn in university that we exist within a dynamic environment. But to truly thrive in this environment, practical experience is essential. My internship taught me to adapt, pivot, and stay ahead of the curve. Whether it’s a sudden algorithm change or a viral meme, agility is the key to success.
AI Isn’t the Enemy; It’s Your Sidekick.
You know how in most universities we were told that AI, like ChatGPT, was the enemy, and were banned from using it? Well, guess what? In the real world, you might be surprised how often AI is used to handle tasks that normally take hours to complete. They crunch data faster than I can say “SWOT analysis” and provide insights that would take me weeks to gather manually. Instead of fearing AI, I have learned to embrace its capabilities.
I often rely on ChatGPT and HubSpot to help me write blogs, articles, and other content. This frees me up to focus on other aspects like creativity, while AI handles the tedious, time-consuming tasks. This way, I can produce high-quality work in less time.
Do you also remember how professors always say ChatGPT and other AI bots give repetitive, low-quality results? That’s because they do not teach you how to use them effectively. In my internship I learned that there are several AI tools available, and the key to using them well is knowing how to provide the right prompts. It involves selecting the right words, phrases, symbols, and formats. After all, it’s not about man versus machine; it’s about man with machine.
Diverse Departments in Marketing
In most universities, you’ll usually find just one marketing degree, primarily teaching us about promoting products and ensuring customer satisfaction. However, marketing is far more multifaceted than that. A marketing department comprises multiple divisions, each with distinct responsibilities and tasks, requiring diverse expertise. Despite their differences, these divisions are equally beneficial and work collaboratively that falls into one same marketing category. This helps me to understand the thought process that goes into coming up with new strategies that will teach you how a marketing department functions.
Realizing these different areas make me question what I truly enjoy and aspire to do within the field. I believe internships provide the perfect opportunity to explore these different divisions, allowing me to experiment with new responsibilities without a long-term commitment.
Personally, I used to hate to write essays and follow the specific rules and formats imposed by universities. However, during my internship, I unexpectedly found it fun to write blogs which require a more creative approach, and I’ve come to appreciate the freedom and expression it allows.
It’s okay to make mistakes, something will always go wrong.
We have all experienced that nerve-wracking moment of waiting for assignments or exam results, only to face disappointment. Not to mention the bad luck of having a professor who takes too long to answer our emails or never replies at all. The pressure to excel in every assignment is intense, with no chance for retakes, leaving us with little room to correct mistakes.
But in internships, we work for a company, and that company cares about our performance, good or bad. They are willing to take the time to provide valuable feedback. I have learned the importance of staying positive even when things go wrong. There are people in the office who always try to keep your spirits high, even when I feel defeated. It’s not like an exam paper where I cannot change my marks; instead, in the real world, it’s okay to make mistakes. The key is to always stay positive, and believe me when I say, most things end up tend to work out – maybe just now how exactly as planned, but in ways that lead to valuable growth.
How to Balance Your Marketing Internship and University
Now that you’ve got a glimpse into how an internship looks, you might wonder how to balance your academics and internships effectively. It would require more time management and commitment.
The idea is that you must have some internship experience before you graduate, but how can you do that if you also have to focus on your academic commitments, which are already a lot of work? Some opt for part-time internships during the academic semester. However, not everyone can handle that. Attending classes, internships, not to mention if you have other part-time jobs, it would be difficult to manage all of these,
My suggestion would be to take internships over your summer or winter breaks. This option enables you to focus on your internship, without being burdened by academic responsibilities. Also, there are more internship opportunities available for you during these times, as companies tend to have a vacationer program that they only offer once a year during the summer break, so it will be easier for you to get one too. For me personally, I did this as I have another part time job as well. I believe this was good for me, as I was able to focus on my experience and gain valuable practical knowledge, while still being able to earn money as a student but enjoy my free time on weekends. But if you are a hardworking and ambitious person, you may also take it over your semester. The important thing is to make sure to also stay healthy and take care of yourself.
So, dear marketing graduates, don’t underestimate the power of internships. Your college degree is the foundation, but your internship is the finishing touch. You will learn lessons no textbook can teach you.