The Junior Creative - An Investment

Alistair Langsford
February 17, 2021

Starting an internship or junior position after acquiring a degree (or in the middle of doing so) is straight up scary. Having a tertiary education in communications is so open ended and borders on unnecessary at times. Now, I'm not trying to convince you $47,000 worth of assignments is a bad idea, but being chucked in the deep end of the advertising world with little practical knowledge of the universally used Adobe Software, partnered with my now vast knowledge on the psychology of colours 🙄  (which somehow managed 3 guest appearances in a year of study) seems a tad unbalanced.

So, what can you do to make this wide eyed, undercooked, eagre, young professional a productive cog in the business wheel?

Well, for starters, make them comfortable. I'm sure you all remember your first "real" job. The nervs are high, adrenaline pumping, boss sitting there drinking coffee as if it's just any other day. But it's not. It's your first day and you have no clue who anyone is, how to impress them or if you're allowed to wear shorts in the office on a 30 degree day (still don't know this but no one has worn shorts yet so I'm playing it by ear).

The best way to get the most out of your junior creative or intern is through company culture. Allow them to feel safe for having ideas and encourage them to explore their creativity. One thing that I always appreciate is when a superior takes the time to sit and teach you new skills. Sure, being tossed in the pool is one way to learn how to swim, but I got swimming lesson by a trained professional, and I tell ya what, I can swim pretty darn well (and no mental scarring, which is a bonus). I understand not all of you have the time in a day to sit down for an hour to upskill the junior, but the thing is, they know that too. If you're busy and can spare 10 minutes, to them it means you're actively trying, and that goes a hell of a long way.

Once a junior feels comfortable and ready to prove themselves, give them tasks that actually have a bit of importance. Make them feel valued and ready for the real world. What use is an internship if they're just changing text on pre-made designs. "Hey mate, the pub has changed the prices of Carlton Draught, can you go through all the files and change the $9's to $7's?" sure it needs to be done, but doing this all day everyday will kill a person's creativity and desire to learn.

In essence, I guess what I'm trying to say is that a junior position or an internship is not meant to be an employee to dump the trash jobs on and do all the dirty work. They are an investment. You spend time with them now so they can tackle the big stuff later to a quality you have chosen from the get-go.

As you can probably tell I'm talking from experience. Luckily the Penda gang have ticked all of these boxes and that's how I know what I am talking about. I'll sign off with some quick advice for juniors and seniors. If you're new to work, be creative and offer ideas. If you sit in silence no one will know your value. If you're hiring a junior, let them speak and help them gain real life experience in the industry. It's how they start producing industry ready, quality work.

Ali - Penda Junior Creative