'WHAT I DID THIS SUMMER ...' Survey Suggests Internships Impart More Workplace Wisdom Than Technical Skills

    TORONTO, April 23 /CNW/ - Although many students expect to gain new
skills via summer internships, a new survey by The Creative Group shows that
much of the value may stem from less tangible aspects of these programs.
Thirty-one per cent of marketing and advertising executives polled said
experiencing different work environments is the greatest advantage of
participating in internships, aside from pay. Nearly another quarter (24 per
cent) cited improving soft skills as the chief benefit.
    The study was developed by The Creative Group, a specialized staffing
service providing creative, advertising, marketing and web professionals on a
project and full-time basis, and conducted by an independent research firm. It
is based on 250 telephone interviews -- 125 with advertising agency executives
and 125 with senior marketing executives.
    Advertising and marketing executives were asked, "Aside from pay, what do
you think is the greatest benefit to students or graduates who participate in
an internship program?"

    Their responses:

    Experiencing different work environments............ 31%
    Improving soft skills............................... 24%
    Acquiring technical skills or knowledge............. 22%
    Making industry contacts............................ 12%
    Learning about office politics and
     other workplace issues.............................  9%
    Don't know..........................................  2%

    "In addition to honing your technical skills, internships offer an
opportunity to learn about yourself and the professional environment in which
you are best suited," said Collin Maria Ezzell, division director of The
Creative Group. "These programs also allow you to work with a variety of
individuals and personality types - an important skill to perfect in your
    Ezzell warned, however, that not all internships are created equal.
"Ensure that your internship offers the opportunity to learn and shadow
experienced professionals in your chosen field," she said. "While a certain
amount of entry-level work can be expected, programs that offer exposure to a
wide range of projects, people and experiences will better prepare you going
    The Creative Group offers the following tips for landing beneficial

    -   Don't be shy. The best programs fill up early, and competition may be
        especially fierce in this economy. Aggressively pursue attractive
        internships. Showing some chutzpah, while still acting
        professionally, can work in your favour.

    -   Put on the polish. Your cover letter, resume and portfolio should be
        professional and without error. Likewise, when interviewing, your
        dress should be appropriate for the work environment.

    -   Assess the real value. While internships that pay well are
        attractive, carefully consider a program before committing to it. You
        might be better off with an internship that pays less, or is unpaid,
        but is dedicated to creating valuable experiences.

    -   Show your independent side. Many firms are stretched thin right now,
        so demonstrating an ability to work without a lot of direct
        supervision can be a plus.

    -   Exhibit a can-do attitude. Inquire about the firm's greatest
        challenges and needs, and then propose how your skills and experience
        can help.

    -   Emphasize your social media skills. Many firms seek professionals who
        can help them implement compelling e-marketing initiatives. If you're
        a whiz with tools like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, you could have
        an advantage.

    Added Ezzell, "While the economy has prevented many companies from hiring
full-time employees, summer internships provide recent graduates a foot in the
door with prospective employers. If successful, these internships may
transition into full-time jobs."

    About The Creative Group

    The Creative Group specializes in placing a range of highly skilled
creative, advertising, marketing and web professionals with a variety of firms
on a project and full-time basis. The Creative Group's internal account
managers typically have prior experience working within the creative industry,
which helps them better understand their clients' needs and their freelancers'
unique talents. Headquartered in Menlo Park, Calif., the firm has offices in
major markets across the United States and in Canada. More information,
including online job-hunting services, candidate portfolios and The Creative
Group's award-winning career magazine, can be found at www.creativegroup.com.

For further information:

For further information: Kristie Perrotte, (416) 350-2330,

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