What I Learned Being an Intern at an Integrated Marketing Agency

Knowledge is a core value at SCG. This weekly column highlights something interesting learned recently by one of our team members. We hope you find it intriguing, relevant and informative.

Having the word “expert” next to your name in a leadership bio is no easy feat. Many claim it, but few actually live it. And as industry writers, we know that it takes a lot of planning, eyes, edits and rewrites before we can consider a project “complete” (and take notice the air quotes around the word “complete”) and deliver it with confidence.

After being an at Strother Communications Group (SCG) for the past six months and learning firsthand how an integrated agency works, I realized that, to eventually become a PR pro, an intern must learn how to make the most of each professional experience in front of them. So, considering my experience, I wanted to share some post-intern “a-ha” moments about how my most recent hours were spent on my path to becoming a PR expert and professional.

Malcolm Gladwell’s book “Outliers: The Story of Success” introduces the 10,000-hour theory. He argues that, that to become an expert in any field or career of study, it takes 10,000 hours of focus and practice on the topic at hand. However, those 10,000 hours shouldn’t just be spent observing, getting by or completing what’s expected. Rather, it’s quality over quantity. Like our finalized blog drafts, I learned it takes constant reworking, creativity and effort to successfully complete an ever-evolving project containing expert execution.

Understand Your Agency

Be your agency during your internship. Most marketing agencies have similarities, but there are still defining characteristics that set them apart. SCG is an integrated agency, focusing mainly on B2B clients and developing campaigns specifically around a message platform developed through discipline, research and great creative. The agency works hard every day to balance strategy and creativity for brands.

I made the most out of my internship by understanding exactly how the agency’s clients, structure, language and strategy worked. It not only helped with familiarizing myself in the internship role or providing on-strategy content, but also with knowing what key “takeaways” to focus on and learn from the agency. SCG has knowledge in areas of blogging, research and digital campaigns. My knowledge of what made the agency valuable helped me effectively communicate SCG members and improve my skills in those subject areas as well.

Find Value in Assignments

Find the gold nugget you can take away from each assignment. I started interning at SCG during the 2018 MN PRSA Classics nominations and awards. As a student nominee myself, it was extra exciting to work for an agency recognized for achieving quality client work and results. Throughout my internship, I got the chance to work on similar client projects and phone calls, enjoying how SCG treated me as an equal account executive with meetings and assignments. I created goals and envisioned how my work benefitted the client, agency and myself at a large-scale. Each project presented its own challenge to overcome and added excitement and fulfillment to my work and results.

Ask and Seize Opportunities

Intern without boundaries. Don’t limit an internship experience simply because of your intern status. I was fortunate to work with a team that appreciated my curiosity, but there were still moments when I had to push past intimidating feelings to optimize experiences. The bottom line? Companies hire interns to bring fresh perspective and to provide a valuable learning experience. I asked to view client proposals to learn more about the agency and compare it to textbook knowledge. I requested feedback on projects in hopes to strengthen professional skills and be an agency asset. I volunteered to work on projects and write content (like this blog post) to feel more comfortable with others reading my work and industry thoughts. The portfolio and knowledge I carry on into my next professional experience accumulated from the risks I took and using their outcomes as a learning experience.

Yesterday, I seized the opportunity and met with agency SCG CEO and Chief Creative Officer Patrick Strother, who explained that real experts find a perfect, creative balance where their passions and strengths collide. Natural talent is inspiration’s spark, and one needs to love and want the job or dream enough to not only put in 10,000 hours but go beyond previously set definitions and refuse to close knowledge and improvement’s door.

Thanks to SCG, I have 461 hours down and only 9540+ hours to go to become an expert in this exciting industry. Thanks to my coworkers and don’t worry – I’m planning to make each remaining hour count.

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