Insights from a First Internship
Blog post by ELP student Garrett Wilson (Business Administration | Class of 2021) Interning at VaynerMedia
My name is Garrett Wilson, I’m a rising junior at the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business, and I want to share some insights from my first internship experience. This summer, I’m a project management intern at VaynerMedia, a full-service marketing agency based in NYC.
If you’re interested in entrepreneurship (which if you’re reading this you probably are), you may know Vayner’s founder and CEO Gary Vaynerchuck (known across social media as @garyvee). Gary is known for his fast-talking, go-getter attitude, poignant entrepreneurial wisdom, and “guru” status. Indeed, when applying, interviewing, and eventually accepting the offer, I was consistently interested in working with Gary, as I believed it would be an interesting opportunity to work at a company with a scrappy, well-known entrepreneur as the CEO.
Since starting in the internship, I’ve gotten to meet several great interns and employees from around the country, met a few popular social media influencers, and helped launch several marketing campaigns for brands such as Pepsi and Mountain Dew. It’s been an interesting experience, but also quite an adjustment to office life. In this post, I’ll share some insights from my adjustment, some of the things I’ve been doing in the office, as well as, some general advice on how to succeed in your internship – especially if it’s your first one.
First off, one of the most important things I’ve done during these past five weeks is establish a morning routine. This has been essential for several reasons. First, I commute to work every morning, driving an hour and 15 minutes to two hours depending on traffic (yes, I’ve grown to hate NYC traffic too).
In order to make this long drive and get into the office by 9 a.m., I had to leave around 7:15 a.m. to guarantee I’ll make it in time. However, I also enjoy staying active, and I’d pretty much go crazy without a daily workout. Therefore, I normally wake up around 5:15 a.m., try and resist the urge to snooze the alarm, and get to the gym by 5:45 a.m. at the latest. There, I’ll lift for about an hour before showering at the gym, changing, and getting in the car around 7:15 a.m. to head to the office.
Another important part of a morning routine is that it can both ground you to start the morning, as well as let you get more things done. For example, another big part of my daily morning routine is the audiobook I listen to in the car. I’ve always enjoyed podcasts, but more recently have been trying to read more full-length books on my ever expanding (but rarely read during school) book list.
I figured while commuting an average of three hours every day isn’t ideal, it was the perfect opportunity to start polishing off some books by simply listening! It’s been a great addition to my commute, and I’ve finally got to read titles such as How to Win Friends and Influence People, Think and Grow Rich, and The 4-Hour Work Week.
Establishing a very specific morning routine that I enjoy has allowed me to look forward to the mornings, find excitement in “the same old” activities, be more productive, and bring me closer to both my personal and professional goals. Overall, I couldn’t recommend it more!
The next part of my advice is relevant once you actually walk in the door of the office. As an intern, I think the most important thing you can do is learn as much as possible. However, as an intern, it’s also important to remember that you may not always have work to do every second of the day! However, this doesn’t mean that you won’t do anything. It’s important not only for your supervisor/boss to find things for you to do, but for you to discover interesting things the company or team is doing and offer to help or watch.
From personal experience, I’ve found that if you initiate to be a part of some project/client/workstream (or whatever else!), nine times out of ten they will at least let you sit in on meetings! Ultimately, this will allow you to learn about things in which you’re truly interested, even if they don’t have something immediately for you to do on a project or for a client.
As an example, from my own time here, I’ve mainly been focusing on social media strategy for Funyuns and Mountain Dew with my project team. However, when I heard that Mountain Dew was launching a completely new energy drink targeted at the esports gaming community, I was interested and asked to sit in on all meetings. As a result, I’ve gotten to participate in conference calls with execs at Mountain Dew, take notes during all meetings, and eventually see the brand get launched on social media just a few days ago! Since I was so involved, learning as much as I could about the brand during the initial meetings, I’ll also be doing market research into the esports community as well as helping craft our social media strategy for this new brand. If I didn’t take the initiative and get involved, I never would’ve learned about this project or been granted these responsibilities.
Overall, an internship can be a fun, exciting experience that allows you to learn about new industries and “get your feet wet” in the working world. Through using these pieces of advice, I hope you’re able to make the most of your internship and put yourself on a better path toward your personal and professional goals.