How to Flip Your Internship:

An Industry Heroes Event
With Judy John


JUNE, 2018

Written by Katherine Pendrill
Photos by Andrew Pieroni

You’ve done the coffee runs. You’ve worked until your eyes went blurry. You’ve shown up to all the office events (even the battle of the bands). But just because you’ve worked your tail off, it doesn’t necessarily mean the boss thinks you’re ready to go from intern to employee.

To make sure that today’s young interns never find themselves fretting over their impending unemployment, Judy John dropped by Miami Ad School Toronto for a special Industry Heroes event on how to go from foot-in-the-door to full-time. As the CEO of Leo Burnett Canada and the Chief Creative Officer of Leo Burnett North America, Judy has seen her fair share of interns come (and go), making her advice invaluable for interns in every facet of the industry. Below are Judy’s top 10 tips for turning an internship into a full-fledged 9 to 5.

The more people you know and who know you,
the better

The more people you know and who know you, the better

1: You’re As Good As You Want to Be

It’s no secret that Judy John is a major NFL fan, so it seems only natural that she would use Tom Brady’s meteoric rise to football fame as a metaphor for success. For Judy, the quarterback’s confidence and belief that he could always be better is exactly the kind of attitude that every intern should strive for.

2: You Are Your Own Brand

Despite working with brands 24/7, most creatives don’t actually think of themselves as a brand. Big mistake. As Judy explains, you should always be thinking about who you are, who you want to be, and what you’re projecting. There are absolutely ‘favorites’ in the office and if you want to be one of them, you’d better be willing to go above and beyond. That being said, don’t let your ego get in the way. You’re there to learn, so make sure to be optimistic and open to new challenges. And of course, don’t be a jerk.

“You dictate how we see you.”

3: Be Part of the Agency (Don’t Be a Wallflower)

Even an introvert like Judy knows that being a wallflower doesn’t get you very far. In order to get to know people, you’ve got to hang out with people. This means volunteering, actively seeking out new projects, going to company parties, and taking part in agency activities — even if those activities are as strange as a ‘Guac Off.’

“The more people you know and who know you, the better.”

4: Be Useful And Helpful

In an agency, there’s always something that needs to be done, which means that an extra set of hands is always appreciated. And this type of help doesn’t go unnoticed. As Judy explains, “the more you do, the more we’ll ask you to do.” In short, stay busy.

“Don’t get caught up in the hierarchy. No job is too small.”

5: Have a Killer Work Ethic

Think doing the bare minimum is enough? Think again. Judy’s advice is to over-deliver on everything. You can never have too many options, but you can definitely have too few, so make sure to go the extra mile. Put simply, be hungry, eager, and give a sh*t about everything you do.

Focus on what’s in front of you and make that work great.

Focus on what’s in front of you and make that work great.

6: Find a Mentor(s) in the Agency

You can learn something different from everyone, so learn from as many people as you can. Better yet, get a second mentor outside of your discipline! But regardless of who you’re learning from, always remember to give as much as you take — it’s a two-way street.

7: Know The Work

As basic as it sounds, you need to know your agency’s work. On that note, it’s also important to know what great work is, so keep up with the industry, news, and award shows. The better your knowledge and references, the better you’ll be.

8: Be an Awesome Team Member

According to Judy, working in an agency is like playing a team sport, in the sense that teamwork is the key to success. This means that to get hired, you need to make the team better. So be empathetic, be accountable, don’t throw anyone under the bus, and do your job.

9: Bring Creative Optimism to Everything

You won’t always get the projects you want, but that doesn’t mean you can’t make the best of it. As Judy puts it, “make everything you’re working on the best thing” — even if that thing is women’s sanitary products. With that kind of attitude, you could just end up making one of the best Super Bowl Commercials of all time.

“Creativity can solve almost anything.”

Judy spearheaded this award winning Superbowl ad.

10: Be Passionate and Have Fun

Finally, have fun. As Judy explains, “we want people who want to be in the business,” so if you’re having fun with it, it’ll reflect in your work.

“Create work that people will care about and share.”

Maybe you’re not living that intern life just yet, but if you’re thinking about starting your advertising career, check out our 2-year portfolio programs in Copywriting (how Judy got her start!) and Art Direction.

Need some creative inspo to take the leap? Check out the Nike ad that convinced Judy to kickstart her own advertising career.

Nike’s Let Me Play CommercialThe spot that inspired Judy to get into advertising.

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