6 lessons my internship taught me
Intern Shreyan tells us all about his experience at Leith and why other students like him shouldn’t be afraid to be bold.
What does it mean to be a ‘Leither’? Well, it isn’t just a word or nickname people working at Leith call themselves. A Leither is a movement that means not being afraid to be bold and creating bold ideas that truly make a difference. As an intern who has spent time around all these bold yet articulate Leithers, I’ll attempt to share my internship experience and what life is like at The Leith Agency through 6 lessons from my time there.
Lesson 1: Why is Networking Important?
It all started back at university when in my third year I applied for QMU’s mentorship programme and fortunately became the mentee to Claire. A former employee and well-known legend at Leith, Claire helped me find out what area of the big bad business world I may want to pursue a career in.
We discussed the prospect of working at an agency and I became interested in the idea of working in client services. Claire suggested that I get in touch with Leith so I sent some speculative emails and offered up my time over the summer holidays. Fortunately, Leith got back to me and following this I was able to start my internship with the award-winning Scottish agency.
Nevertheless, the moral of this story, whether you go to university or not, is to put yourself out there, reach out and network with people (what’s the worst that can happen!).
Additionally, I made sure to connect with everyone at Leith via LinkedIn as this is one of the best professional ways to stay in touch and broaden your network of contacts.
Lesson 2: First Impressions Count!
As I had a first look through the door, well, elevator my impression of Leith was not what you’d expect (and I do mean that as a compliment!). I expected Leith to be an office full of people in suits and dresses who would not have the time of day to speak to this newbie intern. However, it was the complete opposite. On my first day, I met lots of friendly faces and spent time talking to the head of finance, Gary and Holly, who heads up marketing.
Gary was kind enough to run me through the role the finance department plays at the firm and other exciting areas such as contracts and GDPR - trust me it is more exciting than it sounds!
Holly conveyed to me her role in marketing, only to then realise this was the dream. I know it sounds cheesy and cliché, but hear me out! This role was one that allowed you to run the social media side of Leith, conduct business to business marketing, expose the Leith brand, attract new clients to the firm and run massive events - what more do you want from life!
Lesson 3: Don’t just look busy, be busy!
When reflecting on my experience I would sum it up in one sentence: be hard-working, to be busy, to be bold. What does this actually mean:
To be hard-working at Leith means getting stuck into as many projects as possible, helping as many people as possible and this will assist in exposing you to as many departments as possible.
To be busy at Leith means more than just looking busy, it means trying to make a real difference. This may be through assisting account managers like Georgia on acquiring partners for the government’s new campaign on mental health, writing social copy for Holly, conducting desk research for George or filming a day in a life as an intern for Leith’s Instagram page. All these projects and more will help you to stay busy, help others (hopefully) and provide a taste for the field of work you may be interested in pursuing in the future.
To be bold at Leith means actively listening in meetings to these extremely articulate humans talk. It means then conveying your thoughts on how they could have done something differently from your perspective which is inevitably going to be different as it is primarily based on the thinking of a consumer rather than a professional.
Lesson 4: Culture Cultivates Creativity
One key aspect that surprised me during my time at Leith was the company culture. The culture was incredibly relaxed and friendly. I felt as though this helped to enhance my creativity, willingness to think BOLD and outside the sphere (no, not box), which in turn helps in differentiating Leith from other advertising agencies.
You can see this clearly in their adverts. For example the Scottish Government’s “Driving tired kills”, they capture the whole advert through a single eye. This encapsulates how such a minute detail such as an eye can be so powerful and give the audience a feeling of being there in the moment almost in a similar fashion to virtual reality.
It didn’t take me long to see how Leith’s culture cultivates creativity.
Lesson 5: (Actively) Listen, Listen, Listen
What is active listening? Active listening is a methodology that involves listening carefully and the observation of non-verbal communication and blah blah blah. The keyword in this sentence is careful. So many people at Leith have emphasised the importance of listening.
It’s a critical skill that seems so simple but we, as humans, find it so hard to do. Listening attentively will help you to gain so much more knowledge, have meaningful in-depth conversations and build relationships.
I feel as though we as humans listen to someone during a conversation and then halfway through the sentence our head thinks of a question or reply and we end up ignoring the rest of the sentence. It’s a bad habit that takes time to eradicate. Don’t get me wrong, I’m yet to stop doing this as well. Nevertheless, I feel as though I understand the importance of fully listening to someone and it shows when I reply with a question. The technique I use is as simple as listening, while taking notes of what the person is saying, replying through non-verbal cues. Then I pause for a moment, think about what they said and reply with a question that has a direct correction to a specific detail they mentioned. I’m not perfect, to say the least, but I feel this technique has helped me in stopping people mid-sentence and taking in more knowledge.
Through listening actively and participating in various tasks and projects as stated earlier I feel as though this internship has led me to believe I would like to pursue a career within the marketing team at Leith in the future. I had a great time working under Georgia from the client team and George in the planning team, but I feel as though I can express my quirky and bold ideas the most through the projects I carried out for the marketing team.
Lesson 6: The Future is Near Yet Far
The future is however far away or near you want it to be.
From my perspective, the future could be next summer when I will be graduating from university or it could be next week when I start my next internship. I believe you make your future and so that is the takeaway. I plan to expose my brand further during the summer with two more internships, gain as much knowledge as possible through active listening and experience a wide range of situations that challenge me and drive me to the best I can be.
I have done two internships before, been working in a number of jobs since I was 16 and hand on heart, I have to say this is the best experience I’ve had. Why’s this? It’s the people. The people that make Leith.
I would like to thank everyone at Leith for being so warm and welcoming. My line manager Aimee for our morning zoom calls in which she made sure I always had something to keep me working hard (and hence busy). Nancy, my Leith partner who has let me in the office every morning and gave me top quality chat and company throughout the internship (as well as all the important things like organising meetings and making the internship run smoothly). Thank you to Fiona for taking me on, Claire for referring me to Fiona and everyone else in-between whether that be Holly, Georgia, George or anyone I went for a drink with on a Friday afternoon. Thank you, hope to see you soon and stay bold, not bald.