How to get an internship in marketing, advertising and PR
Competition for marketing jobs is fierce, so marketing-related work experience and internships can give you the edge in your graduate job hunt. Work experience gives you the opportunity to develop the skills and behaviours that marketing recruiters are looking for, as well as allowing you to demonstrate your commitment to a career in marketing.
Internships and informal work experience
Marketing internships are formally organised opportunities for students to gain experience of the marketing sector. These opportunities can range in duration from a couple of weeks over the summer to placements lasting a number of months, and are usually intended for penultimate-year students. Internships are advertised on TARGETjobs (see below), on marketing employers’ websites and in industry publications such as Marketing Week, The Drum and Campaign.
Internships are organised by marketing agencies and marketing departments within organisations. A marketing department within a larger organisation will only work on promoting the organisation’s own products and services, while marketing agencies will typically work with a greater range of brands. Working in an agency can be a higher-pressure environment, as you may be working on a number of projects and with a number of clients at a time, but you will typically have greater creative freedom.
Do I need a marketing degree to get an internship?
No! Most general marketing internships will welcome applications from students of any degree, although they may show a preference towards candidates who are studying marketing or business-related degrees. Some internships in more specialised areas of marketing, such as the technical or data side of digital marketing, may require you to be studying a relevant subject such as technology or computer science.
Sending speculative applications for work experience
Many marketing internships and work experience opportunities are not widely advertised. Speculative applications can be the only way to find work experience with smaller organisation and marketing agencies that do not run formal internship schemes.
Timings and deadlines
Many internships at larger organisations will be intended for students in their penultimate year of a degree course, to be completed over the summer before their final year. Applications for these internships tend to be open between January and April. Work experience opportunities (with both large employers and smaller employers) are likely to pop up throughout the year, so make sure to check this page regularly and register to receive targeted job alerts.
Recruitment methods and tips
The application process for internships and work experience at larger marketing departments and agencies will likely involve submitting a CV, covering letter and/or an online application form. As marketing is all about selling and promoting brands, products and services, you need to show off your ability to promote yourself. One way of doing this is by tailoring your application to the marketing sector and, specifically, to the employer you are applying to.
- Read out advice on how you can target your CV and covering letter to the job and employer that you are applying for.
You can also really stand out from the crowd with a creative application. These are essentially speculative applications where you can really show off your marketing and creative skills. However creative applications are also very risky, as recruiters may see them solely as a novelty. Click here for our analysis of the pros and cons of creative applications.
Work experience candidates will typically also have to complete an interview. At larger employers this may be part of, or alongside, an assessment centre. Interviewers will be interested in hearing you talk about your transferable skills, your motivations for working in marketing and why you think the opportunity you are applying to will be valuable to you.