By: Martha Truslow

Over the weekend I sent out a survey to a random number of employees which asked this one question:

 “What is your advice to the interns about the advertising world AND OR starting a professional life after college?” 

What follows is an attempted brief of the most consistently voiced insights, broken down into twelve areas and in no particular order. So let’s start.

1.     BE YOURSELF: What you bring to the table is unique to you.  Your strength could be your neighbor’s weakness, and vice versa. What a valuable balance. Learn from each other while staying true to you.  That said, you are your competition. You have a gut, follow it. It’s what got you here, isn’t it? So why wouldn’t you follow it?

Why this is important to me: I come from an illustration background. I think in curly mustaches and coffee stains that look like David Hasselhoff. My wonderful copywriter, Katie, thinks in witty tones and concise messages. Put us together and BAM! A magical new creation is born!

2.     WORK YOUR ASS OFF: Especially now, while we’re young and free of many responsibilities which lie further down the road.  There are no short cuts and if you want the easy way out, the door is over there. Advertising is challenging and every project should be just that, a challenge.

Why is this important to me: I am a month out of college and I don’t have to worry about other mouths to feed. So I’m gonna use all the time I have to dive as deep as I can… when else will I get the opportunity do this? 

3.     BE NAIEVE: Ask questions. Then ask even more questions. Sponge it up. As interns, we are in the unique position of knowing, well, very little or nothing at all if we’re being honest (which we should be.) And that is wonderful! We are the only people in the office allowed to know nothing! And guess what? Nobody expects us to know everything. If we combine our naivety with an insatiable creative hunger, then we cannot only grow in ways we couldn’t otherwise foresee, but we can also bring new and refreshing energy to our superiors and their creative rhythms.  So ask questions! Do that crazy idea and do it well!

Why this is important to me: I walked into an office last week for some advice for a project I had been working on. This quickly turned into a new and entirely different assignment that I wouldn’t have involvement with otherwise. And. I love working on it. See? The magic of questions, ask them.

4.     YOU WILL FAIL: You will fail. You will fail a LOT. But with every failure comes opportunity for learning and growing. After so many failures, it is a natural trend to retreat to the safe zone. Don’t do that! Luke warm will get you no where. Pick yourself up and run full speed!

Why this is important to me: I’m finding the bigger and riskier the idea the more I get out of a project, especially if I fail. And by fail I mean the idea doesn’t get carried through. But I still got to explore an idea that would otherwise be forgotten.

5.     YOU ARE NOT YOUR WORK:  You are NOT your work.  Had a bad idea? Okay, well, who doesn’t? Criticism is your friend, don’t run from it.

Why this is important to me: As an intern, criticism is key to my growth. With each new criticism I’ve felt my mind expand into a new way of thinking.

6.     DON’T GET JADED: Failure has the tendency to evoke negative and cynical feelings, self doubt or doubt in others. Especially if you’ve been in the industry 5, 10, 20 years. It is the person who fails with grace and positivity that moves forward while the jaded jerk takes three steps backward. Nobody wants to work with a grump or an asshole, so don’t be one.

Why this is important to me: There are a lot of people to look up to here at Hill Holliday. People of all levels have mastered the art of renewing themselves with every project. I’m watching this carefully because positivity is what will make a mind great.

7.     BE KIND: There is power in kindness, not just in a work environment but on a human level. Everybody fights their own battles, both inside and out of the office. Don’t be someone who creates war. Be the person everybody finds peace in being around and in working with. A kind person makes magic happen.

Why this is important to me: Thankfully haven’t encountered a jerk at Hill Holliday (I don’t think there is any coincidence there) but I will say the people that are kind enough to invest their time in me are enabling me to make BIG changes.

8.     “SLUT IT UP,” says Brett: In regards to opportunity. Say yes to everything! Coworkers are going out for drinks? Go. Someone needs your help on a project? Sure! Remember how we don’t know anything? Well, each time we say yes, we learn something we otherwise wouldn’t know and grow in ways we otherwise wouldn’t have grown. That said, also make opportunities for yourself. Seek out creative outlets within the community.

Why this is important to me: I sadly missed an intern outing this past weekend. BIG mistake, guys. On top of not understanding a few new jokes, I missed an entire free pizza! (Ask Katie.)

9.     The Trinity, as told by Brett: “Jon Graham put it best, "Be good. Be fast. Be nice.” That’s the holy trinity on being a successful creative. If you fail at any one of those areas, you won’t be invited back.”

Why this is important to me: This, I’m finding, takes practice. A lot of practice. It’s my fourth week in advertising, so I’ve got a ways to go. But I’m watching those who have it mastered and am trying to sponge up the mad skillz.

10.  TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF: What we do is demanding. If you don’t take care of yourself (exercise, eat well, SLEEP, foster interests) then you will quickly shrivel up. Nobody wants to find a giant intern-shaped dust bunny under your desk.

Why this is important to me: Yesterday I forgot to eat lunch. I also drank three cups of coffee. Guys, don’t do this. Ever.

11.  LOVE WHAT YOU DO: or do something else. Period. The end.

Why this is important to me: I went into art school so that I could do what I love…. Be creative. Advertising is allowing me to do just that while challenging me everyday.

12.  And finally, A QUOTE given to me by the marvelous former Program 35er, Alyssa, “ be better than anyone faster, and faster than anyone better.” A.J. Liebling.

Why this is important to me: Cause, like. That’s really really insightful. Something we can aspire to accomplish on a daily basis.

If you’re wondering, I received Six word doc pages of advice from just a handful of employees. My superiors, who are all busy in their own rights, took the time to write out thoughtful pieces of advice sourced from their own invaluable experiences (and in some cases, PAGES of advice categorized by topic… shout out to Brett!) Now, if that doesn’t speak to the brilliant place that Hill Holliday is, then I don’t know what does.

To everyone who took the time to give their insights, I sincerely thank you.



AuthorHill Holliday