Creative Wannabe Work Commandments (again)

Welcome to the real world Interns! Several folks are starting their summer internships this week and I want to re-share some advice and tips for creative wannabes and non-creative wannabes as you step out into the work space.

It may just be an internship right now, but it can turn into a job later on. So make your time worth it.

Here it is again:

Whether you're an intern or junior, there are certain rules you need to conduct yourself by to make people like you and want to work with you.

Sure you're great. You know it and I know it and your mom knows it. However, these folks at Agency X have no idea, and quite honestly are too busy trying to show off their own greatness to care.

I went up to a mountain top (aka sat on my bed) and meditated (tried real hard to remember things from my internships + first year at work) and spoke to the advertising gods (napped) and put together this list of

Creative Wannabe Work Commandments.
from June 20, 2011

* Never be late. Ever. Lightning will strike you down and kill you if you are. (Or not.) Get in before everyone and leave after them. 5:30 pm is midafternoon break time. Some of the biggest client changes - and biggest opportunities for you to get called to do some work - happen at the very last minute. Which is usually about 5 minutes before you're ready to go home.

* Dress like a creative, only better. There's no official dress code for creative types, so vans, torn jeans and Random Band #7 t-shirts are perfectly fine, but don't dress as if you're going to school, your friend's house, a party, a sleepover, the beach, the bathroom or a cocktail party. Dress in a way that if someone met you, they'd never assume you were an intern or junior and if the client were in the office the team wouldn't be ashamed to introduce you. Pick the best dressed person and use them as your template.

* Never get drunk around co-workers. Even if you're at a bar. Even if they're drunk. Even if it's your birthday. Even if they encourage you to have just one more. There's a lot of socializing over drinks in advertising, sometimes at work (shh) or outside of the office. Don't ever confuse your colleagues with your college buddies. You'll have to see them again tomorrow morning, sober and straight-faced. You can't take back anything said or done over scotch and tequila shots. Remember that. 

* Keep busy. If you have no assignments, ask for one. Ask your supervisor, ask his supervisor, ask her partner, ask everyone around if they need help with anything, if you can sit in on their meeting, if you can look over their shoulder creepily. If you're finished your work, Oliver Twist out in the piece and ask for more. Volunteer yourself, offer your services, step up and slide yourself into every opportunity to do some work and - here's what really matters - impress people.

* Limit Idling (On and off line). I love Facebook and Twitter as much as the average bear and I often use them to do research, but when people walk by my desk, there's no way they can tell if I'm skimming our competitor's fanpages to see what we can do better than them or if I'm buying a cow on Farmville. And that's what they'll assume. They also assume you're taking a long lunch if you're away from your desk too long, you're gossiping if you're talking to a coworker in the hall and you're taking a nap if you're in the bathroom for too long. (Confession: I've been guilty of this.) Always look occupied and engaged so they feel like they need you there.

* Don't say no. Never turn down an assignment or feedback. You're at the bottom of the totem pole and the best way to work your way up is to (wait for it) work. So if someone asks you to do something and it's late/you're too busy/you don't want to do it - don't say no, say you'll try to work something out, or you'll see if So Andso can help or ask for more time to get it done. Don't ever turn down an opportunity to show you're dependable, hardworking and amazing. If the client or account people ask you to do something creatively outrageous, you'll learn more diplomatic ways of saying no. My favorite is "Oh, that could be interesting. I'll try to work something out with that and see what other solutions we can come up with."

* Overdeliver. If they ask you to do three versions, do four. If they ask for "some" headlines, write ten. If they say "come up with a campaign" come up with three and flush them out in a wicked presentation that shows how your idea works across all media. Go above and beyond. Treat every assignment, no matter how big or small, like it's your final assignment and your entire grade depends on it.

*  Save the drama. I was going to say for your mama, but she doesn't want it either. This is a place of business, so put your personal life on mute once you step through those doors. Limit personal calls, conversations and visits. Don't stress about your boyfriend on company time. And God forbid, don't talk about that girl you may or may not meet up with later before/during/after the status meeting. No one cares. And you don't want them to. They'll look at you different and possibly like you less. You want them to know that you're a hard worker, a quick learner and a creative genius - nothing else matters. Nothing.

* Get a mentor and an ally. Find someone on your team or on another team who you respect and can ask for guidance, advice and introductions. (Advertising is very much about who you know and who they know. So make those connections.) And find an ally, someone on your team who you can share your work and ideas with, discuss projects and day to day things, and who can say they know you, like you and think that you're a hard worker, quick learner and creative genius.  Neither of these people should be your boss, and they don't even really have to have a big title or anything, your mentor should have about 5 years on you and your ally at least 2. Just make sure you have two people you can turn to if you need rescuing or a recommendation.

* Always take notes. Write that one down. Always have a pen and pad with you. Write down all the important things to remember during the meeting - and things to Google later (People throw around terms like "top of the line" and "POP" and "MCOW" like they're Skittles.) Jot down your first thoughts, doodle, write tag lines, make product pro + con lists. Plus having a pad always makes you look much more serious and involved than everyone else.

* Be professional. Creative Departments are super laid back. People skate board, play Wii, drink beer, curse, slam doors, blast Kanye a little too loud and throw balls across the room. However, these people have been working there far longer than you have. One day, you will be that person. But today, you're not. So be on your Ps and Qs. Don't get too casual in conversation or email. Avoid slangs, curses, sexist/racist/homophobic statements or jokes, oversharing and being loud. Your coworkers are not your friends. Your office is not your house. You are here to work and make sure everyone sees that that is your #1 priority.

* Keep track of your accomplishments. People may not notice how much you're doing, what you've contributed or the kind of progress you've made. So create a folder or make a list and keep all of your wins so in 3 or so months, you can see how far you've come and most importantly, prove that you're an asset to that agency. Feel free to title the folder or list "Evidence of My Greatness." I won't judge you for it.