Student Internship Q&A:

The value of hands on experience in advertising


December, 2020

Written by Jocelyn Mendez

Internships are a unique part and one of the biggest highlights of the student experience at Miami Ad School Toronto. Students work hard to work alongside and be mentored by some of the advertising industry’s most brilliant creative minds. We sat down with two of our Art Direction and Copywriting graduates, Shirley Xu Wang and Marly Dichter, to reflect back on their experience, and how they prepared for these internships.

Tell me about yourselves ladies.

M + S: We are former classmates, close friends, and creative partners. I (Shirley) am an art director, and these days my goal is to become the Chrissy Teigen of Chinese food and publish my own cookbook. I (Marly) am a copywriter, and have started to foster ducks.

We met at Miami Ad School Toronto during orientation. Flash forward a year later, we travelled to New York City to work at Saatchi & Saatchi for an internship. Shortly after we returned to Toronto where we separated and chose different agencies; Shirley interned at Juliet, while I interned at FCB. For our 2 remaining quarters, we teamed up once again and headed to john st. We have since graduated and remained at john st. advertising working together as an AD/CW duo.

Internships can be hard to secure. How much work went into preparing your internship applications and portfolios?

Shirley: A lot of work went into preparing our portfolios. I think the biggest thing that helped was collaborating between students. Be open to sharing and exchanging your thoughts with your peers so you can craft and make your work better. In class, most of the time we came up with ideas on our own. If you’re liking someone’s idea and want to collaborate with them to bring it to life, don’t be shy to approach them. An idea can always get better.

M + S: As we moved into our second year, we asked for more advice from CDs, because at this point we had more to show them. Keep adjusting your book, it’s normal to never be satisfied. It will always be a work in progress.

Shirley and Marly’s Agency Lab Journey

Which courses proved the most beneficial to preparing your portfolio?

Shirley: The concepting classes helped me the most with my book. A class I took called Interactive Concepting with Mike Dubrick led me to understand how portfolios are made and what an insight and idea was. Everything is media with Denise Cole was a super fun class and it really made me look at advertising in a non-traditional way.

Marly: There are classes that get you to think in different ways, brainstorm and there are classes that help build your craft. Ex. Short and Sweet, or Wordsmithing. I think having that balance of classes really helps build your portfolio and understand what good work is. The head to head class opened our minds to new ideas. It was a very helpful class to understand how to build not just a piece that you like but a piece that is going to resonate with a wider audience.

How did you feel walking into your first internship?

Shirley: I felt really excited. We were in New York interning at Saatchi & Saatchi. One cool thing about going to NYC was meeting more people in our school network. We actually won Young Shits with our piece Campaign Collarless and got to grab drinks with the judges cause they were in New York too.

Marly: I was scared. But, because I was interning with 3 other Miami Ad School Toronto students, and 1 student from Mumbai, I felt more comfortable. I think my anxiety was quickly smoothed over because I landed on a career that felt like me. You learn so much from the city, and about yourself. What’s really cool about doing an international internship is that you are pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone inside agency walls and outside them as well.

How did you feel walking into your first internship?

Shirley: At Saatchi, we did a lot, ranging from social posts to banner ads, and even helping out with some campaigns for Olay, Oral B,  Always and Tampax. Once we started showing we were reliable and dependant, they started taking us on bigger tasks. At john st. we were given a tv spot for Sleep Country to do one month into our internship. Everyone was really helpful and we learnt a lot from it.

Marly: We were able to dip our feet in all mediums. Being in different cities and agencies, we learned about the different processes. Multiple internships gave us insight into different ways of working. At john st. we work on KFC, Sleep Country, Boston Pizza, & Real Canadian Liquor Store.

Ralph Lauren : Scrap Your Collar | Young Shits winner (2019)

I think my anxiety was quickly smoothed over because I landed on a career that felt like me.

I think my anxiety was quickly smoothed over because I landed on a career that felt like me.

How did your last internship compare to your first?

M + S: The first two were in person, but the following internships were remote online experiences. Advertising really throws you in there, by the third time we did an internship, we had a stronger idea of what to ask and what to do. What’s really fun is that you never stop learning, you are constantly working on new companies, learning new insights. There is still so much to learn.

Let’s go back to the moment the first lockdown occurred, how was the shift to working online?

M + S:. The lockdown happened in between quarters. New internship, new format. It was less intimidating, because it was something new for everyone. We were all just trying to navigate it together. It opened the floor to new ways of collaborating. Advertising moves really fast and the people do too. We were able to pivot with the industry. 

What did you do during your internships to help you get hired?

M + S: We treated every project seriously. We always tried to leave a good impression and made our intentions clear that we really wanted to stay. Before the end of our 3rd internship, we set up a meeting to discuss our performance, how we can improve, and our goals.

Tabasco: Endangered Hot Sauce | Commended at Creative Conscience (2020) , ADCC Finalist (2020)

Reflecting back to your experience, would you do anything different?

M +S: No, we are really happy with where we are right now. Everything brought us to where we are today. There are moments where we look back on and cringe, but at the end of the day we live and we learn, we made those mistakes and now we know better.

Be sure to check out their amazing portfolios, Marly Dichter and Shirley Xu Wang.

Our Art Direction and Copywriting Programs offer students the ability to intern in up to 4 unique advertising agencies globally from the comfort of their home. For more information, head over to our Art Direction and Copywriting Portfolio program page, or reach out to Idil@adschool.ca

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