June 4, 2015 smz-blog

How to go from intern to employee

Kelsey Sedlmeyer for blog

Kelsey Sedlemeyer is one of four current SMZ employees who transitioned from intern to full-time employee. The role of internships is becoming increasingly important for both student job seekers and companies.  They help get that all-important “foot in the door” while providing employers insight on talent who may help grow their businesses.

In the last year, internships grew by 36% with 53% of companies saying they plan to hire more interns next year. At the same time they’ve hit stride on college campuses with nearly 65% of students completing at least one internship during the past year.

Much of employee success at a company has to do with cultural fit and internships allow for both parties to gauge exactly how their personal cultures mesh.

Here’s Kelsey’s hands-on recap of how she navigated the waters of student life to career trajectory via her internship experience at SMZ.

How did you prepare for your post-school career opportunity?

I was taught that the ad industry was about “who you know,” and timing. So, I made sure to be involved with advertising groups and events in college always networking with people and learning about companies and jobs I never even knew existed.

I also developed my own branded website full of my best work along with a resume and business cards so I looked polished and ready. I scoured the Internet and stalked agencies social media and websites to see which places worked on projects with clients I could see myself working on. I began applying for positions, writing cover letters and following up with my favorite ad firms. (I even had an Excel doc for places I applied and when, so that I knew the appropriate time to follow up.)

I discovered SMZ at AdCon during my senior year. I trusted that my work and my job search process would somehow get me a “foot in their door” and my persistence paid off!

How did your internship turn into a long interview for a full-time position to the team?

I knew from the start of my internship that there was a chance I could be hired on after it ended.  Keeping that in mind made me work hard to show growth and passion in my work. For me, it became a professional challenge to demonstrate I was more than an intern and that I can keep up. Every time I presented work or contributed at a meeting I wanted to prove to coworkers (and myself, honestly) that I could handle any assignment that came my way.

How did you know you wanted to be in advertising?

I didn’t. I knew I wanted to do something involving creativity and art for a living. Having enjoyed a few graphics classes in high school I began to see it as more than a creative outlet – I just wasn’t sure how to translate that into a profession. My background was in traditional art like drawing, painting, photography but I also have a background in competitive dance, something that has influenced how I interpret things creatively even today. When I was accepted at MSU, I was undecided on my major until someone suggested that I look at advertising art direction. For the sake of picking a major, I switched to advertising. Before long I was accepted into the Design Specialization through the art college at MSU and I was in love.  There was a time when I wanted to do something with psychology, but I knew that creativity was what really drove me. When I learned how much of advertising is EXACTLY those two things, I knew I was in the right place. It’s almost as if the stars fell into place, rather than me seeing them align – so to speak.

How did social media play into your career pursuit?

Every person and company uses social media differently. What I do know is that you can’t use the social space to advertise yourself.  You can only use it to put your spin on an existing conversation, or start one yourself. Social media is a great tool to see what people really enjoy doing/talking about. Someone’s personality is just as important as his or her talent and work ethic in any agency. For example, my Twitter is flooded with music, movies, dry humor and retweets from Adobe Illustrator’s Twitter. I try to keep it as professional as possible because you never really know who’s looking. I think that what I post is a huge indicator of who I am as a person. It’s also an easy way for employers to see who’s staying relevant on social media, an ever-growing and important platform for advertising.

The Moral

Kelsey’s experience is an excellent example and something of a road map for turning an opportunity into a position. With the number of companies now adding or expanding internships, students need to view these assignments as a chance to make their mark within an organization.  Talent and trust are still hallmarks that get demonstrated and earned as they have in Kelsey’s personal experience here at SMZ.  We are indeed fortunate to have discovered her skills firsthand during her internship with us.

Rich Williams, SVP/Strategic Business Development and Kelsey Sedlmeyer, Junior Art Director

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