Internships policy at Chemistry

Internships at Chemistry are intended to give prospective entrants to the communications industry a good understanding into how our agency operates and the wider industry context in which we operate.

Student internships, being part of the education curriculum, are unpaid. However, we believe that post-education internships should be paid: after all, they should be of commercial benefit to both parties. We also believe that they should be subject to strict controls regarding duration. Our policy is to only offer internships when there is a reasonable chance of employment within a specified period and to pay the minimum wage during internships.

Our commitment to you: you are with us to learn. For your benefit and, hopefully, for our benefit too or, at least, for the benefit of another agency. What we will do is try to involve you in whatever is going on in the agency at the time. But that’s a bit of lucky dip: if we have a TV shoot on, unless it’s very confidential, we’ll give you a chance to attend and observe (and, just maybe, have lunch on a bus!). We have radio recordings most weeks so, unless you’re very unlucky, you should get to attend. And we will try to keep you busy – you won’t learn anything by sitting idle! So you will be asked to do competitive reviews for client presentations – getting hold of communications from the category in which the client competes and analysing those communications to try to work out what their strategy is. This requires thinking!

We will also move you around the agency. You will be given the opportunity to sit next to (or at least near) the planners, the creatives, the client service staff. Even finance if you want to (which you should – commercial understanding being important, after all). All of this sitting around will hopefully, in an osmosis-type transaction, equip you with all sorts of new skills.
Most importantly, we will give you feedback. We will give you our observations on how you’ve done, what’s impressed us about you, or what hasn’t. We’ll offer advice on which area of the business we think you might be best suited to, or would be best advised to start out in.

Finally, and we won’t overpromise here, but if we are convinced that you are a potential star, we will do everything we can to help you become one. If we have or can create an actual job for you, we will do so. If not, we’ll recommend you to some of the agencies we respect most (and if you do achieve stardom, we’ll just hope you won’t bite the hand that fed you first).

Your commitment to us: again, you are with us to learn. So get involved – work experience should be ‘learning by doing’. We absolutely love it when we see interns who are full of energy, initiative and positivity: when we see someone who really wants to get on, we really want to help them. The best advice we can give any intern is ‘make yourself indispensable’. Make yourself so useful that when you’ve left to go back to college or wherever, people in the agency will be saying “I wish so-and-so was still here”.

So how do you make yourself indispensable? Be really, really useful. Work hard. Ask for more work. Don’t get fobbed off. Go to another department and ask for work. Bribe people: offer to make them coffee if you can sit and work with them on something. Escalate it, if that doesn’t work: go to one of the directors, the MD even and say that you’re not as busy as you’d like to be and is there anything that he or she needs doing or if you could shadow them for a half-day…if they don’t want the latter, they will find you something for the former!

How to prepare for an internship: usually, we ask all interns to do some homework so that they will derive the maximum benefit from their time at the agency. This homework should ideally be completed over a period of several weeks or more to help tune your head in to the communications business. The homework we give consists of asking you to pick the best and worst examples you can find of communications in each of the key media: TV, radio, outdoor, press, digital, social and DM. You will be asked to provide your rationale for why each piece of work represents the best or worst to you: but remember that it’s just an opinion and yours is just as valid as anyone else’s. However, we’re not just looking for valid opinions: what we really want to see is evidence of your thinking, your reasoning, your analytical skills and your ability to present a cogent argument…whether we agree with it or not is actually irrelevant.

Also: find out about the agency. Make it obvious you know about the agency (top tip: check the website!), its clients and the agency’s work. Be enthusiastic when you meet the agency staff: if you admire a piece of work, tell the agency staff, ideally those who worked on it. They will be grateful, impressed…and a little beholden to you to make sure your internship is as good as it can be.

There are three levels of internship and the differences are important:

Second Level Student internships: these are for 2nd level students, usually transition year, and are a one-week placement. These form part of the educational curriculum and are unpaid. Candidates for placement are encouraged to apply well in advance as places are allocated on a first come, first served basis and, in order to ensure that the student gets the most out of the experience, we do not take more than one student at a time. Candidates apply in writing, including a CV and statement from their school confirming that they are insured on the school’s policy throughout the internship. Note that it is agency policy for students to ‘work’ office hours, not school hours, during their internship

Third Level Student internships: these are for 3rd level students, usually in their final year, and for a placement on one month’s duration. Since these form part of the educational curriculum they are also unpaid. However, we do use these internships as an opportunity to ‘vet’ prospective employees who will shortly be trying to get into the industry. Chemistry has established relationships with a small number of colleges with relevant courses who pre-select students based on their knowledge of the type of individual who is likely to be the best fit for our agency. As a result, we have a great track record of hiring former interns at the end of their course. We usually only take one or two third level interns, and never more than one per department, again ensuring that the student gets the level of attention that both student and agency require. Candidates for placement are encouraged to apply for placement well in advance, ideally via their course tutor or other staff member with responsibility for internships, and preference is given to students on relevant courses in those colleges with which we have established relationships.

Post-Education internships: it has become common practice for prospective entrants to the communications industry to do one or more internships prior to being employed. Unfortunately, these internships are open to abuse by employers: they are often unpaid, of no fixed duration, and without there being any job available at the end of the internship. Chemistry’s policy is to provide these internships only where there is a job available, or highly likely to be, at the end of the internship. Internships will be between 1 month and 3 months maximum duration, during which time interns will be paid the prevailing minimum wage, based on a 40 hour week. This will allow the intern to gain valuable experience of working in an agency, with a good prospect of being hired, while earning a reasonably fair wage; it will allow Chemistry to vet the intern thoroughly before offering him or her employment

If you are interested in an internship with us please contact