“I called three companies to follow up on job postings on their websites, only to be told that the job postings were old. One job posting was almost a year old!” —Kleine Achiles, graduate, University of Toronto and Sheridan College
This is my story about hunting for a copywriting internship.
After my undergrad, I jumped at the opportunity to do a postgrad in Copywriting Advertising. After an intensive eight months of 40+ hours of classes, assignments, projects, ad campaigns, presentations, critiques, rejections, praises, and a three-hour commute everyday, I survived.
With a portfolio, also known as a book, in my hand that still needed a lot of work, we were ushered into the real world to gain some real copywriting experience through pair or unpaid internships.
Needless to say, after tightening my belt for eight months with no room for a part-time job in my post-grad bootcamp schedule, I did not look forward to another two-plus months of unpaid work. So instead of launching into a full-out go “get an internship and dig yourself into more debt” attitude, I was grateful that my ex-boss invited me to take back my administrative assistant position while I job/career hunted.
I knew that being so close to not having any money to pay for rent and food was stressing me out. I couldn’t work on improving my portfolio if all I could stress about was not having money. On top of that, I knew it would take a lot of time and effort to meet with advertising agencies and I would face many rejections. Again, stressing about money wasn’t going to make the internship hunting easier to deal with.
While working as an administrative assistant, my boss was wonderful enough to let me work on my book during slow days and if I needed time off on short notice because an agency wanted to take a look at my book and offer critiques, my boss accommodated that as well. I realize and I am really grateful to work for a boss that was so accommodating to my school schedule and has always supported my hopes of a career in the creative field.
After two months passed working as an administrative assistant, working on my book, meeting with a few agencies for critiques, and applying for many internships, I faced the harsh reality of a burn-out. As a struggling wannabe junior copywriter, it was the scariest feeling to take over my mind. In my post-grad bootcamp, we were told that we didn’t have time for a burn-out and certainly writer’s block was out of the question. You just can’t have one because it could spell the end of your career. What career? I couldn’t even get an internship!
So two months later, I write this experience to tell you that even though that moment felt like the end of a dream, it wasn’t. I put my pen down and closed my book, but it’s only temporary. While my post-grad helped me prepare for a specific career, my undergrad built the foundation for a career beyond copywriting. The soft and hard skills I learned and developed over the years brought many unexplored paths and unopened doors.
I made it known that instead of hunting for a copywriting internship, I was job hunting for a communications/marketing position. Support arrived beyond just close friends and family. I was really touched to find out how much my previous instructors, professors, co-workers, and employers wanted to help me. I get forwarded job positions and words of advice and encouragement.
For me, the waiting game is the hardest part of job hunting. It is the part where you relinquish decision-making to other individuals. It is the part where you have no control and no say. I appreciate rejection emails because that frees the pent-up mental energy of not knowing. I still don’t have a new job/career that I want, but I at least have one that pays the bills. And I look forward to every new day because every new day is another opportunity to find more opportunities.
Right now, I am concentrating on finding a position in communications and marketing. I am also going to be a part-time unpaid intern for a start-up online jewellery store with their marketing and social media.
Advertising is tied to the marketing and communications field and being in this field will bring more opportunities that I want and most importantly, it will keep an advertising career open to me.
My advice for employers, educators and career centres
My advice for employers is to have a clear opening and closing date for a job posting and take the job posting down if it’s no longer available. I called three companies to follow up on job postings on their websites, only to be told that the job postings were old. One job posting was almost a year old!
Schools and career centres need to get serious with students about money. While tuition and living expenses continue to increase, there aren’t a plethora of jobs waiting for new grads. Finding a job isn’t a cake-walk in the park. And if you’re not financially prepared, it can cause a lot of stress. If schools and career centres could offer more financial advice on budgeting and surviving on a meagre income during school and during job hunting, it would really help new grads in dealing with student-debt, job hunting and life.
My advice for students
My advice to fellow students is to be involved in school clubs and volunteer outside of school too if you can. The soft skills you learn from working in a team, managing a project, planning and promoting events, budgeting, being a leader etc. are all skills you can highlight on a cover letter and resume. These school clubs and volunteer opportunities are also ways to network and where you’ll find support with life.
For recent grads, hang in there. Keep talking to people about what you’re looking for and what you have to offer. But also listen. Listen to how and why other people are where they are today. For me, knowing how long it took another person to get where s/he is today encourages me and let’s me know that every person will have that moment when things fall into place.
This Student Voice belongs to:
Honours Bachelor of Arts in Communications, Culture and Information Technology
University of Toronto
Professional Writing and Communications