Reflections of a Swim Intern

By swimcreativeMargaret Johnson, Internship at Swim Creative

After graduating in 2021 from the University of Minnesota, I applied to nearly 200 jobs and had 50+ interviews for full-time positions. It was beginning to feel a little hopeless when I was finally offered an internship at Swim Creative. Not only was the offer interesting, but I also knew I couldn’t pass it up. It was in my field of interest and at an ad agency I knew was “one of the good ones.”

So I said yes, with a caveat: I’m not a copywriter.  

I went into conversations with Swim about a potential internship with a pretty strong idea of what I wanted out of it and what I considered myself to be good at. As an undergrad, I got good grades in projects centered around strategy and research, so that’s what I wanted to focus on in my internship.

But other than in college, I hadn’t had much exposure to strategy and research. If you’d have asked me when I was a kid what I wanted to do when I grew up, I would NOT have said researcher – I would have said an author. If you’d have asked me in college why I got a double major in Strategic Communications and Communication Studies it would NOT have been because I wanted to do research – it would’ve been because I’ve always loved to write. And finally, if you were to take a peek at my resume, you might notice that research is something that I did NOT do at other jobs I’ve had – instead, I wrote.

All this may lead you to one conclusion: “wow, she’s a writer!” 

And I would mostly agree with you, except that if you’re familiar with marketing, writing for advertisements is hard. I am not someone who can easily whip out a catchy tagline and touch heartstrings with extraordinary ad copy on my first try. Because of this, I was worried about selling myself as something I was not, so I avoided what I am naturally drawn to, which is writing.

Luckily my mentors and supervisors at Swim didn’t let me off so easily.

And that’s the beauty of an internship and the beauty of Swim Creative. As circumstances would have it, I ended up writing a lot more than originally expected when I first started my internship. Even though I was pretty set on the idea that I wanted to do research, I recognized that the purpose of an internship is to learn. I was nervous about writing for what felt like some pretty high stakes, but whenever I was asked to write something I said yes because I wanted to learn as much as possible.

And by saying yes to anything and everything, I started to feel like I was blossoming and gaining confidence. I learned about things that I had never done (and in some cases, even heard of before) like keyword research, meta descriptions, and writing for social media.

Of course, some of the stuff I wrote were duds – being perfect on the first try with writing is almost impossible! The team at Swim took the time to show me how to write for various clients and situations in a way that met me where my skill level was at.

What’s even better is that I got to train my writing muscle and flex my research muscle throughout the internship. The fact that I asked to be involved with research was not lost on Swim, and I did many research projects throughout my internship like competitive reports and target audience research.

So what are my takeaways from this experience?

In any internship, strive to learn as much as you can. Don’t try to be perfect, because let’s face it, nobody is. If you intern at Swim, you’ll work with some heavy hitters who are extremely knowledgeable and good at what they do. Though it can be intimidating, you’ll quickly see that everyone at Swim is also exceptionally compassionate, willing to teach, and open to new ideas.

Secondly, take advantage of the opportunities that are presented to you. Being involved in client meetings was one of the highlights of my internship because I was able to see the ins and outs of how agencies go through the creative process.

Finally, if you’re going into an internship in your dream field, probably don’t say yes “with a caveat.” I still love research and digging into the “why?” of marketing, but being encouraged to write as well has been extremely fulfilling for me. After all, it’s clear that writing has always been an interest of mine.

Overall, lean into the fact that it’s a learning experience and that you’re probably going to be flying by the seat of your pants the whole time. That’s okay though because if there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s the scary things that help you grow.

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