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Job & Internship Search

A successful internship or job search in this industry depends on your ability to demonstrate a commitment to and developed interest in advertising, marketing, or PR.

Below are some tips, strategies, and valuable information to get you started in your search.

Know the Industry

Before you begin your internship or job search, know where you want to be within the industry and within the organization before you apply. Here are some questions to get you started:

Do you want to work in advertising, marketing, or PR?

Though often grouped together, advertising, marketing, and PR are very different. Applicants need to choose an area of focus and really understand why that is the best fit for their skills, interests, and strengths. Applicants should be able to articulate the differences and similarities between the areas to demonstrate that they are making an educated decision.

Where do you want to work?

Many opportunities in this industry exist at advertising, marketing, and PR firms or agencies, but there are also opportunities to work in these functional areas within other organizations or corporations. Before you begin your search, think about whether you would prefer to work at a firm or agency or in an advertising, marketing, or PR capacity for an organization or corporation.

Where do you want to be within the company?

Opportunities exist on both the service side and the creative side. Each position requires a different set of skills. Before applying for any position, be sure to understand where the position fits within the firm or organization.

What do you know about the field?

Think about trends, recent campaigns, or effective marketing tactics; can you have a conversation with someone about your thoughts and opinions around these topics? Spend some time researching recent happenings in the industry and think about what you’ve seen that is effective. Being able to articulate your thoughts on hot-topics or trends demonstrates an interest in the field and a commitment to learning.

What do you know about your potential audience?

Advertising, marketing, and PR rely on an ability to relate to and understand specific populations and their needs, interests, and values.  Think about how you might be prepared to work with a specific population or how your experiences will translate well to connecting with a new population

How do you use social media?

Advertising, marketing, and PR professionals depend on social media to connect with clients, manage trends, assess needs, and communicate with their customers. Before beginning your internship and job search, think about how you might be able to establish and maintain a personal brand through social media. A strong social media presence and well-developed brand can position you well throughout your internship and job search.


Developing a network of contacts within the industry is critical to success in the internship and job search. To stand out among peers and other applicants, it is important to have someone at the company who can speak to your skills, experiences, and fit with the organization. This is not to say that you won’t be selected for an interview without a personal contact, but it is helpful to develop a network to get your foot in the door. More so than within other industries, students interested in advertising, marketing, or PR should dedicate time to developing their professional network within this relationship-based industry.  The following tips were shared during an employer panel at Chicago Advertising Federation Career Day:

  • Make an appointment with your NCA Career Advisor to develop a networking strategy
  • Conduct informational interviews with advertising, marketing, and PR professionals
  • Utilize alumni networks and communities such as Northwestern, athletic teams, or student organizations to connect with industry professionals
  • Attend industry events such as career fairs, networking programs, or educational opportunities; don’t miss an opportunity to network and connect with professionals
  • Establish a social media presence and interact with professionals via LinkedIn or Twitter
  • Join professional organizations; many industry-based associations offer student memberships which allow access to programs, events, and contacts within the industry
  • Develop a connection with a new contact; find a common interest or shared experience
  • Be assertive and don’t be afraid to put yourself out there; be clear about what you hope to gain from your contacts
  • Don’t be afraid to show your personality; employers want to know whether you would be a good cultural fit for their organization
  • Follow-up with any contact you make; this industry is about relationships and it is important to maintain any contact who you might want to connect with down the road. A current contact could become a future mentor!

Secure an Internship

In order to secure a full-time position in the industry, an applicant needs to have previous experience. Employers look for applicants with relevant internship experience. Your internship doesn’t necessarily need to be within advertising, marketing, or PR, but it should provide you with skills and experiences transferable to the industry, such as:

  • Problem-solving
  • Innovation and creativity
  • Critical thinking
  • Communication (verbal and written)
  • Presentation skills
  • Teamwork and leadership
  • Time management and the ability to simultaneously balance several projects
  • Adaptability and flexibility 

During your internship(s), think about how the skills and experiences might relate to advertising, marketing, or PR. How does your internship experience contribute to your passion for and fit within advertising, marketing, or PR? If your internship is not in advertising, marketing, or PR, think about projects you could take on to build relevant skills.

Networking can be an effective way to secure an internship in advertising, marketing, or PR, especially as a first or second year student. Many firms and agencies don’t have formal internship programs so interested students secure opportunities through other avenues- networking, attending events, or conducting informational interviews. 

Internships in the field are unpaid and offered year-round with the opportunity to convert to a full-time offer with strong performance.  If you secure an internship, make the most of it- develop contacts, gain experiences, and do something that you can put on your resume.  Interning can also provide a good look at all areas within an agency and help you evaluate which one is right for you.

Sample Internship & Job Titles

  • Assistant Account Executive
  • Brand Ambassador
  • Digital Development Manager
  • Market Research Project Manager
  • Marketing and Communication Intern
  • Market Research Analyst
  • Media Associate