It happened in what felt like two days: the first half of my senior internship at Ufomammoot in Berlin is already over. And one thing is already becoming obvious – this is one of the smartest ideas I have ever had in 25 years of advertising.
- New Skills
Just as I had hoped: I am learning to do things that I have never done before. Like writing for a chatbot. I spent days thinking about what a conversational chatbot needs to be able to do, how to give it a personality, how to create a set of default answers for questions or remarks that it isn’t prepared for, and I tested it with friends and colleagues. I could spend months perfecting it…
Not everything is new, of course. It’s interesting to see that clients on the digital side of advertising often act like they do on the traditional side. Like planning a digital marketing campaign and basically booking nothing but digital display advertising. Interesting. I always learned that digital gives us the chance to go beyond awareness, to create engagement, lead to conversion. But yes, that does take more effort, thinking, creativity. Nothing new for me – I learned that in many years of direct marketing.
- New ways of working
One of the things I was most curious about was how they work at Ufomammoot. It’s an organization that is completely different from all those network agencies I have been exposed to – I knew that I would get a new perspective.
And I did. Some things are obvious. Small independent organizations are more direct and personal, decision making is super fast, and it’s easier to create a community spirit. All this is true for Ufomammoot, and I couldn’t have felt more at home. Just watching them interact and being a part of this interaction is a learning by itself.
Some things may seem obvious to others but were incredibly valuable for me – like learning to work with new tools. I knew about Slack and Trello, but actually working with them in a professional environment was incredibly valuable. This alone would have been a good reason to become a senior intern.
First day as senior intern. Fresh coffee, new red intern cap, and almost awake already.
- Personal growth
I don’t want to exaggerate the impact this has on me – and maybe the term personal growth is already taking it a little far. But I do feel that this experience is very enriching. I feel that I am doing something for myself that is truly valuable, it is gratifying on a very personal level. It makes me feel good, and that is a very important part.
Walking to my desk in the morning, knowing that I will learn something new every day is something I haven’t felt for ages. Slipping into the role of an intern is opening input channels that haven’t been fed for a very long time. Great.
- A story to tell
Yes, it’s 2018, and talking about it on social media is part of it. The more I talk about this with other people, the clearer it becomes that the concept of a senior internship is more than just a wacky idea. People immediately understand what I am doing – and even see new possibilities. Is there a better way to foster intrapreneurship than sending people on a senior internship in an entrepreneurial environment? I don’t think so.
And friends point me towards others that are taking a step back to move forward. A colleague from way back in my Ogilvy years contacted me and connected me with Ruby Quince – he quit his CD job to be the oldest student ever at the School of Communication Arts in London. Smart man.
Plus: it’s not just a good story for me, it’s a good one for Ufomammoot too. And I hope I can extend a little bit of knowledge and advice to them as well. Another good part of a senior internship – it’s a little more of an exchange than a regular one.
Just because I am German doesn’t mean that I know what it’s like to live in Berlin. It’s very different. Working here for real is not just a great professional experience, it obviously is a great cultural experience as well. Lots of people would love to work here – and this internship gave me the opportunity to do it.
There is a good chance that I will do this again. Maybe in Berlin, but maybe in another place – we’ll see. It’s broadening the horizon, it’s motivating, enriching, it’s professional growth on all levels.
And I am only halfway done.