Once you’re out of school, an internship may feel antiquated. But when you see that the ad or in-house agency you really want to get into has only one opening…and it’s a copywriting internship, you may find yourself reconsidering.
Strictly speaking, an internship is really an opportunity for beginners in an industry to get practical, on-the-job experience. Yes, it’s true that internships are most commonly served during or right after college, but there’s absolutely no reason this needs to be the case. If you’re considering an internship, I’m guessing that the idea of this practical, on-the-job experience appeals to you. And it should.
You don’t need to worry that applying for an internship will look odd or desperate unless you’re still in school or just graduated. Look: You need to get your foot in the door.
An internship outside of school—an internship at any age—doesn’t communicate that you’re desperate, it communicates that you’re willing to put in the time to learn the ropes in whatever capacity you can.
The desire to take on an internship, especially as an adult, shows dedication and persistence. Those are always impressive and always in short supply among job applicants. It also shows humility. Yes, you’re aware that the other applicants and interns are likely to be college students or recent graduates, but you know that you need to start at square one and learn everything you can just like they do.
When you apply for an internship, don’t be afraid to lay it out for them. You can absolutely say something like, “I know I’m older than your usual candidates, but I want to get into this industry and I especially want to learn from your agency because I’m really impressed by the work that you do.”
Nothing about this is going to count against you.
If you get the internship, though, make sure you’re willing to put your money where your mouth is. You absolutely will be doing intern-level work and there’s a very decent chance that you’ll be supervised by someone younger than you. This is not the time to let any misplaced pride kick in. Take pride in doing good work and take pride in learning.
If you can’t swing a regular internship with your current schedule, you still have a few options. If you don’t mind taking a little bit of time off, you could offer your services as a temporary intern for a week or you could reach out to a copywriting contact and ask if they’d let you shadow them for a day.
In these scenarios, you’re not going to get quite as much experience as you would with a longer term internship (obviously), but you’ll still get a feel for what it’s like to work in an ad agency or internal agency and you’ll have the opportunity to sit in on a few meetings and maybe even do a little concepting.
Don’t let fear of what people will think keep you from taking a step forward in your career. People will think things, no matter what you do. Keep your focus on your own goals and path and what’s right for you and you’ll excel.
Your turn! Have you considered taking an internship after school? What happened? Let us know in the comments below!
Last Updated on May 10, 2023
Anders Gamboni says
Thanks for this post, Nicki. I’m nearly 33 and this is the position I’m currently finding myself in. I graduated from portfolio school in Chicago 2 years ago and struggled to find an internship straight after because I had to move back to Australia for visa reasons. The idea of an internship appeals to me greatly but I have this horrible feeling I’ve missed the boat and no agency will take me on now. Do you think I will face a greater uphill battle than the younger fresh grads I’ll be competing with?
Nicki Krawczyk says
Honestly, I think the younger fresh grads should be more concerned about *you*! The key is to just be honest when you apply — and to focus on your “benefit to consumer.” You should absolutely address the fact that you’re older (and more experienced!) than the average applicant, and explain exactly why that would make you a unique and valuable asset to their internship program. Remember that when you’re applying for internships or jobs or projects that you’re copywriting for yourself – and it’s your job to sell yourself to your target audience. 🙂
Thanks for commenting!