Get comfortable with being uncomfortable.
By Andy Ang, Digital Marketing Intern
NTU Business School
Dear Future Intern,
To quote Alvin Toffler, “The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.” This is an insight that I gained during my 10-week internship in Design Prodigy in 2018.
In this internship, my goals were to challenge myself and learn new things, especially how an SME such as Design Prodigy could thrive in a competitive digital marketing landscape. However, my main takeaway was a mind changing shift. Every intern should deserve to experience this before deciding to join other companies.
Let me take you through some of my considerations and reflections from what I experienced before, during, and after my marketing internship journey.
where should you intern?
SME or MNC? Every university student will face this decision sometime during their internship selections – to choose experiencing working life in an small and medium enterprise, or a multi-national corporation. To me, the easy choice would be to work in an MNC with a strong brand prestige and get opportunities to travel around the world — though of course, you would have to work within rigid bureaucracy after fighting through stiff competition to get the job.
But wait: have you seen the other side of the coin before making a good decision?
Do yourself a favour, take a leap outside your perceived comfort zone during this exploration period and get your hands dirty in an SME – and if it is not for you, at least you leave knowing what kind of company you do not like.
Why Design Prodigy amongst so many SMEs? I found that Design Prodigy believes in the mindset of the individual and does not focus on choosing people primarily based on formal qualifications. The tipping point for me was that the nature of digital marketing internships in Singapore that Design Prodigy offered. Which marketing agency puts a holacracy-inspired environment, engagement marketing, and semantic SEO all together in a sentence? It got me hooked and my DP journey started in summer 2018.
what happens during a DP marketing internship?
As a marketing student, marketing to me meant creating reports that covered 4Ps (Price, Product, Promotion and Place), research surveys and advertisements. Schools teach us what we need to know which terms to Google when we are stuck, but did not help us answer the main question when it comes to many work and internship dilemmas: So what?
At Design Prodigy, being exposed to the wisdom of Peter Drucker’s “marketing is business” quote that sits high up on the glass door to remind ourselves that if marketing fails, so will the business. I had to put aside what I had learnt from school to unlearn and then relearn.
what is a knowledge worker?
The knowledge worker is the backbone of a progressive agency. Gone are the days when knowledge is a commodity that few had, and only passed through specific limited channels.
In Design Prodigy, staff readily apply the concept of the knowledge worker. I jumped straight into an ongoing project involving operationalising Semantic SEO. As interns, we are responsible for delivering results for a complex task with no Googleable information. This further strengthened my belief that no task is too difficult if you are willing to unlearn and relearn new concepts.
I went on further to take on four other projects involving understanding the roles of a marketing behaviour expert, orchestrator, implementer, and human capital specialist. No amount of training outside can prepare you for what you will receive in this internship.
what is a marketing mentor?
Before you think that you are all alone in this, fret not. Design Prodigy has a nurturing environment for its internships in Singapore for undergraduates: you will be mentored, and get to become a mentor as well.
The role of a DP mentor is not an assigned role, but a culture. Everyone is a mentor in DP as both interns and full-time staff switch between the roles of teacher and student. Both parties show up to learn from one another. For example, interns can present a research project that will be valuable to a full-timer’s work. More importantly, both sides establish trust that they are willing to invest time and effort to make it work.
iterate, iterate, iterate
During our internship group work, we had hits and misses, but despite the failures, we learned valuable lessons. The company’s culture is to record down the iterations (both successful and unsuccessful ones) so that the next internship group can learn from our lessons. Every day, we were challenged to find out how marketing can be different. I realised that no obstacle is insurmountable with the ingenuity of the mind and grit.
If you have read till here and are considering making the best out of your next undergraduate internship in Singapore, my advice: get comfortable with being uncomfortable. it is no easy feat, but rest assured the time spent will be worth it. Don’t wait too long to be enlightened.
Read more stories from our interns: Chua Xin Lin’s account of her Design Prodigy internship, and Ellen Zeng, Joe Tran, and Lim Qian Wei’s internship research on the role of polymaths in modern marketing.