Six Tips for Aspiring Brand-Strategy Interns

By Vincent Kyas

Applying for an internship can be a stressful thing. First-timers especially find it difficult to determine what a potential employer might be looking for in a résumé. This uncertainty can lead to applicants leaving out bits of information about themselves that might be highly interesting to the people doing the hiring.

I started my career as an intern at MetaDesign, and I’ve been working in brand strategy for six years, so I’m familiar with both perspectives. Since we often look to recruit young talent into the ranks of full-time employees, naturally we’re looking to get the best candidates. So in order to provide some guidance, I’ve compiled a list of things that you might want to take into consideration for your application.

First up: We don’t expect you to be a branding expert with years of experience and a set of fully developed skills when you apply. Please don’t feel discouraged because you fear you’re lacking any of the things I mention. They’re meant as guidance, not general criteria.

1. Know the difference between advertising and branding

Of course you don’t need to be familiar with the challenges and everyday struggles of the work of a brand strategist when you apply. You should, however, be aware that there is a difference between the work of advertising and branding agencies. Sometimes we hear from applicants that they’ve applied because of advertising campaigns we’ve supposedly created for some of our clients. Apart from the fact that we don’t want to take credit for another agency’s work, this often indicates that an applicant hasn’t really done enough research. Having at least an idea of the difference between advertising and branding shows us you’ve done your homework and makes it a lot easier to manage expectations for an internship at MetaDesign.

2. Show your fascination for brands

The common ground for everyone working in our industry is our love for brands. So naturally, this fascination is something we’re looking for in any applicant. Think about what it is that intrigues you about brands, and be prepared to talk about it. Think about what brands you love most and why. And just a heads up: you will be asked about your favorite brand. A lot of applicants tend to pick Apple when asked this. So if you want to stand out, you might want to consider picking something a little more unpredictable.

3. Highlight any strategic experience

If you’ve not worked on anything related to strategy during your studies or previous internships, that’s fine. In fact, I understand this may well be the reason you’re looking for an internship at MetaDesign in the first place. Unfortunately, we occasionally find that applicants fail to highlight important strategy-related experiences in their résumés. I think we all appreciate that experience comes in many forms. So think hard about the things you have to offer and make sure to highlight them in your résumé.

4. Design your CV

Collaborative work with designers makes up a large percentage of the job of a brand strategist. So a certain feeling for design is definitely helpful in order to be able to communicate and prevent misunderstandings. One way to show us that you’ve got this is to put some thought into how you design your CV. I’m not saying you have to be an accomplished designer, but you do want to get the basics right. Make sure everything is in place and looks neat and tidy, and think about things like structure and visual guidance to make sure important aspects about yourself won’t be overlooked.

5. Send us your slides

A good strategist is not only defined by his thinking but also by his ability to express ideas verbally and visually. Although PowerPoint and Keynote can be both curse and blessing, the truth is you will need to design slides as a brand strategist. So why not send us some of the slides you’ve made in the past to show us you’re up for the task? This way, we can see how advanced your skills are, and it gives you something to talk about. If you don’t have any slides, other examples of your work from previous projects might be helpful.

6. Be curious

There isn’t a clear path to becoming a brand strategist. I was lucky enough to have met inspirational colleagues that came from all sorts of different backgrounds — economics, design, philosophy, even biology. A characteristic all good strategists share, however, is their curiosity. They also share the ability to leave conventional patterns of thinking behind. What I’m meaning to say is that we’re looking for a mindset, not a specific profile. So if you share this spirit of openness, then try to get it across in your application.

All in all, our foremost priority for your internship at MetaDesign is that you get a peek at the work in this industry. We want you to learn something, which is why we try to involve interns the best we can in the daily project work by:

  • Making sure you participate in at least one strategy workshop (so yes, you might actually meet our clients)
  • Involving you in projects from start to finish
  • Always explaining the larger context of our work

If you’re interested in an internship in brand strategy, feel free to send us an application.

For our Berlin and Düsseldorf offices:
career@metadesign.de

For our Beijing office:
hr@metadesign.cn

For our San Francisco office:
jobs@metadesign.com

For our Zürich and Geneva offices:
jobs@metadesign.ch

Vincent Kyas is a senior brand strategist at MetaDesign Berlin.

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