By: Kathryn Carter
College students searching for internships often go straight to Indeed.com and put “Public Relations and Advertising internships near me” into the search bar. Internships for huge companies like Saint Laurent, St. Jude Children’s Hospital, and Warner Media come up and although these are amazing opportunities that will give interns a resume boost, the long-term benefits gained from these programs are extremely different than what interns leave boutique agencies with.
Having only five employees working on 20 to 30 accounts can be an extreme challenge, and many companies wouldn’t be able to handle that workload. Due to this, interns are valued much more in smaller agencies because they help carry their client and customer service driven work more than those at a large firm.
It’s my goal in this blog post for young public relations and advertising professionals to understand why it’s important to not overlook smaller agencies.
What is a boutique agency?
Benefits of interning at a boutique agency:
Quality over quantity.
Our parents and professors are constantly saying that it’s “all about the connections” when you start looking for a job, but it’s difficult to know where to begin building these. Being an intern at a small agency allows young professionals an opportunity to market themselves through events, social media, and the work they publish during their time at these agencies.
Being a part of a small team allows for more face-to-face time with your boss and even your clients.
This may not seem very important to many but learning from professionals who have years of experience under their belt can lead to better opportunities in the future. This is not only because of the knowledge they instill in you, but also because of the professionals they know who are in positions that could help secure a future job.
These connections can lead to more valuable personal recommendations or even future employment opportunities.
2. Increased Number of Tasks
Boutique agencies provide interns with opportunities to work on a variety of different projects that help them learn the ropes of PR or advertising fairly quickly.
Fewer people = more work per person.
This isn’t a bad thing at all though because it allows for interns to get their hands on a variety of different tasks. The young professionals leaving boutique agency internships are well rounded because they assist all of the team members who have varying skill sets and job duties.
How professionally enriching it is to be involved in all aspects of the campaign planning? All the way from brainstorms to drafts, smaller agencies value the opinion of their interns and expect you to be involved from the get-go. Boutique agencies lack the power struggles and unnecessary competition that many large agencies thrive off of.
Some of the task’s boutique agencies assign their interns:
· Drafting creative briefs, social media postings, press releases, and any other various forms of writing
· Managing project reports
· Contributing to PR brainstorming and strategy processes
· Providing support and marketing the clients are various special events
· Monitoring clients’ accounts and social media platforms (Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and others)
· Providing content for all of these social platforms including, but not limited to blog posts
3. Emphasis on creativity
Smaller, boutique agencies inspire creativity. They are constantly encouraging their interns to speak up when they have an idea that may be considered off book or out of the box.
Ways boutique agencies inspire creativity:
- Constant change in the responsibilities that interns have
- No corporate policies that have to be strictly followed
- Partnering interns with clients that are purpose-driven and ensure that even their weirdest ideas are heard
- Including interns in lunches and weekly team meetings
What a boutique agency taught me
This summer I had the privilege of interning at 360 Media, a boutique agency in Atlanta, GA.
Through this I gained; better references that allow for companies to get to know me better, a well-rounded resume and website portfolio, and relationships with all different types of clients, the staff, and media personals. I was able to improve on my communication skills and gain realistic experience in more than one aspect of PR/Advertising.
What does this mean when looking for internships?
None of this means that you shouldn’t apply for internships at large firms, but it’s important to recognize the benefits of working at a boutique agency before you begin your search.
Often, they’re overlooked because they’re hard to find when in reality, most college students either aren’t aware of the benefits boutique agencies possess or don’t know where to begin looking.
That being said, here are some things you should be looking up when searching for internships this year:
- “Boutique agency internships”
- “Small firm PR/Advertising internships”
- “Small digital marketing agencies”
It’s important to go outside of the normal searches as well. Begin by looking for the agency website instead of the job listing, that way you can figure out what their values are and how they run their company.
The harder you look, the more likely you are to find a boutique agency that meets all of your needs as an intern.
The only negative of working for a boutique agency is that interns may not receive the recognition from potential employers that they would at a well-known agency. However, when given the opportunity to elaborate on what you gained from your internship, employers will quickly see the overall understanding and copious amount of knowledge that former boutique agency interns can bring to the table.