Five things my TJA internship taught me about being an agency pro

Five things my TJA internship taught me about being an agency pro

I’m going to take a wild guess and say that if you are reading this blog post, you aren’t planning on retiring any time soon. Chances are, you are a young professional looking to get a leg up on the competition by reading some quality insider content from those in the know.

That’s where I come in: I’m a college senior finishing his first agency internship at TJA. It’s been a great leap into the big leagues, and I can say that I learned quite a bit about what it means to be a bona fide agency professional. Here are my top five takeaways: 

  1. Work without borders

    There is a time and a place for silos. Bountiful fall grain harvest? Get a silo. Making some beer? Consider a silo. However, in the world of advertising, nothing happens in a vacuum. If you want to put out quick, quality work, it is important to familiarize yourself with every step of the process. My official title is Media Intern, but I made it my goal to learn and work with each department and ended up learning a heck of a lot more than I would have otherwise. A puzzle is always easier to put together when you can see the whole picture on the box.

  2. Fail gracefully, recover tactfully

    Everyone always says “Oh don’t worry about failure, it’s a part of learning!” which is true; it’s good advice. However, it doesn’t do you much good in the moment when your clients and superiors start asking you why your work was subpar or why you missed an important deadline. Anyone can mess up, but what separates amateur hour from the big leagues is how you recover. Apologize sincerely, correct quickly and move on. Don’t fight it, fix it.

  3. Embrace the things you’re bad at 

    I spent the first two years of my marketing major thinking that I could get by solely on creative prowess and intuition like some 18-year-old Don Draper. I was afraid of data and was generally clueless as to how one uses it meaningfully. It wasn’t until I had to work with survey data for a marketing research class that I realized my disdain stemmed purely from a lack of understanding and fear of messing up. With that revelation, I dove in headfirst and haven’t looked back. Now, I work with data on a daily basis and have found that I actually enjoy using it to tell stories quite a bit. You can’t learn to swim if you don’t get in the water.

  4. Find your calm 

    At a recent quarterly meeting, lifestyle coach John Beck of Leadership Embodiment, gave us his advice for finding our calm in the face of stress. His technique was as easy as inhaling while sitting up straight, exhaling while relaxing the chest and thinking of something that makes you smile. It is simple, yet solid advice. After a few attempts at this myself, I started to realize just how often we tend to rush into a problem without fully thinking it through. Never underestimate the value of facing a situation with a level head.

  5. Follow through

    Life moves fast in an agency and it’s often easy to lose track of deadlines or outright forget them all together in the face of larger projects. Be the person who does what they say they will do, when they say they will do it, even if it means writing down every deadline or staying late to finish a project, there is great value in being a person that others can depend on. After all, a person is only as good as their word.

So there you have it

Above all, make sure you enjoy what you do. If you are having a good time, the rest is sure to follow. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes, and never stop learning. Be the kind of professional that you would enjoy working with.


Written by: Harrison


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