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Intern Insider: Advertising student appreciates experience rather than payday

Like so many other interns, Christina Cooper will never receive a paycheck for the work she's doing at Trone Inc., an advertising firm in Greensboro, N.C. And like so many other interns, she won't complain. She'll work long hours. She'll put in maximum effort. She'll continually ask for more to do.

Christina Cooper may not be getting paid this summer, but her internship experience is perhaps more valuable.

Certainly, she’s not in an unenviable (or unique) situation because, as she says, “I enjoy coming into work every day and although it’s unpaid, I am learning to value experience over compensation.”

And boy, is she getting the opportunity to mix it up at Trone. Her list of duties is lengthy and ranges from typical intern tasks—researching and notetaking—to more important responsibilities—creating new business client overviews and preparing, with the other interns, advertising strategies for Trone’s internship program.

“Since (the interns) are looked upon as equals, we are held to the same standards as any new employee would be,” says Cooper, a senior strategic communications major. “Assignments need to be through, well organized, on time, and if you don’t know the answer to something, you need to somehow figure it out. I have found that problem solving is what advertisers do and who they are.”

Cooper has also learned more about the intricacies and long-term scope of the advertising world. She says that when most people think about advertising, they probably envision a creative team brainstorming ideas for the ad or commercial. And while that’s true, she says, the lead up to that point is just as important.

“I have found that the process to create advertisements is much more detailed and time consuming than I had originally thought,” Cooper says. “There have been months of preparation before the assignment was even sent to the creative department.”

And it’s all these great lessons she’s gaining at Trone that has solidified, in her mind, that she has chosen the right career path. She thought she enjoyed the ad world. Now, six weeks into the internship, she’s sure she’ll be working at an advertising firm following graduation.

“This internship has come at a perfect time in my life,” Cooper says. “I have one year left before I’m in the real world, and I’m glad I am able to confirm my thoughts about what career field I want to be in.”

Additionally, her class experience at Elon piqued her interest in the field and prepared her for her internship. Taking courses such as Advertising in Society and Communications Research have, in particular, given her an advantage.

“It’s a good feeling when I’m sitting in on a conference call or pitch, and I know what they are talking about and recognize the different charts and advertising terms,” Cooper says.

Cooper values the advice and the responsibility she’s been given thus far, and she hopes the experience will help her feel more confident during her job search, which is less than a year away.

“I am learning so much so quickly, and I really feel like I am preparing myself for post-graduation,” she says. “I have always been a planner, so taking (her supervisors’) advice has helped me tentatively map out a plan for this year, which has been very settling to me.

“I feel much more prepared and knowledgeable about the industry, and I believe this experience is laying the groundwork for figuring out a future career plan.”

Colin Donohue,
7/16/2010 10:00 AM