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5 Lessons From Mentorship to Real Life

Audrey Wilcox just completed her 2016 Mentorship and was hired as a Junior Art Director in August.

On the first day of the 2016 Barkley Mentorship, I stood at the front of a conference room and told twenty-four strangers how much I loved the craft of constructing Amish Chairs. “What is an Amish Chair?” you ask? I have no clue (I still have no clue). What I did learn is that icebreaker improv games make you feel like a weirdo and whatever I expected this internship to be would be wrong.

Leading up to that day, the mystery of what to expect as an Art Direction intern at a real life ad agency was intimidating. What if I’m not cut out for this? What if college didn’t actually prepare me at all? What time is lunch? How do adults make friends? Now that the summer is over, it’s funny to look back at the things that I worried about and how much they didn’t matter. I learned so much more about so much more than I could have imagined. And, yes MOM, I even made some friends.

I could go into great detail about my day-to-day and the specific projects I worked on, but I know that you people are busy and are probably only skimming this to pass time in the margarita line. Instead, I’m going to share the five biggest takeaways from my experience (with GIFs!):


Yes, Please

If someone asks you to come along on a photoshoot, say yes. If someone then asks you to be a hand model for said photoshoot, say yes. If someone asks you to listen in on a client call, to design a digital banner, to grab coffee with them, to grab coffee for them, to come to a meeting of a team you aren’t on, say yes to all of it (unless they ask you to do all of that at the same time, that person is just unreasonable). Essentially, don’t turn down an experience because you think it doesn’t apply to you or you don’t think you are capable of doing it. The worst that can happen is that you fail and chalk it up to a learning experience.


L is for Listening

At Barkley, you have to speak up. Even as an intern, you will be expected to give your perspective during brainstorms and meetings. Leaders here place a high value on good ideas, regardless of where they come from, so this is a given. But, something that is just as important is knowing how to listen effectively. Like, really listen. This is important because a) you may actually miss some important information that affects you, b) you definitely look like a rude person if you don’t and c) there is a high probability that what is being said will help you. Put as much effort into listening to other people as you do into voicing your own thoughts and opinions because, often, the idea you didn’t see potential in will turn out to be the best one.


Do It For the Ding

It is an oddly satisfying feeling the first time Eddie dings his bell for you. At the beginning of the summer, all of the interns wondered what it would take to receive such an honor. While the theory of the dings being distress signals via Morse Code was brought up as an explanation, this is (probably) not the truth. What it actually came down to was simply smiling and saying hi when you walk through the doors in the morning. Basically, the lesson here is to just be a nice person. Be a grateful person. People will respect you for it, and sometimes, those people have bells that they will ding at you.


Take Advantage of the Free Food

College is expensive. Barkley is a magical place where the free food is abundant. Take advantage of this. This goes for the free beer, too (if you are of legal drinking age, of course). You will also probably meet new people in line because no one is unhappy in a line for free things.  


I Have No Idea What I’m Doing…

…but, guess what? Neither do the other interns. This is a lesson that my mentor instilled in me early on. It’s easy to doubt yourself in an industry full of the most talented people you’ve ever met. But, if you can control the feelings of doubt, this is actually a great thing. Feeling this way only made me want to try harder, learn more and get better. Embrace all of the things you don’t know, educate yourself, and find a new group of things that you don’t know anything about. There aren’t (really) any rules in advertising so do your best to keep up and trudge your own path.

Barkley is a magical place full of life, creativity, energy, and the best people. The most important lesson I learned is to enjoy it all because it’s amazing how quickly two months fly by.

Audrey Wilcox

August 24, 2016

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