Two cents blog

The intern-sized elephant in the room

by Jack Cornwell on 3 February 2014

Question: What’s ghostly white, can’t speak, and has twenty pairs of eyes on it?

Answer: A terrified intern walking into a boardroom.

This intern was none other than myself on the first day of my BCM internship some six weeks ago. As I stole glances at the important clients sitting around the boardroom table, my mind raced – did my shirt look too big? Did I have the correct assemblage of notepads, pens and highlighters? What should I say? Oh no, did somebody just ask me a question? – and somehow, I managed to blurt out something halfway between a greeting, an introduction and a response.

“Hi, I’m a QUT Business student. I’m good – I mean, my name’s not Good, it’s Jack – but I’m good, too. I mean, only if you just asked me… did you ask me?”

Before I had time to process the irony of failing at basic communication in an industry that exchanges the word ‘comms’ in water cooler fashion, I was ushered to sit down and immediately engaged in conversation with clients about brand development, strategy and market potential.

In the following weeks, this procedure would be repeated, fine-tuned and perfected until I realised that the well-established clichés about internships that I’d divined from the likes of The Office, Mad Men and Girls were far-reached from the hallowed halls of BCM.

As a strategy and brand planning intern, I was quickly taken under the wing of BCM’s strategy mastermind, Jo Stone. I was given a comprehensive tour de force, comprising two tablespoons of daily insights and involvement in the brand planning process, a generous handful of consumer behaviour, and just a pinch of answers to every question I could ask (kudos to Jo for fielding more ‘whats’ than a light bulb factory from me); alongside the meticulous eye of Account Director extraordinaire, Gemma Boucher.

BCM’s resident media mogul, Giulianna Stead, taught me how to cross my t’s and dot my i’s (often, I’m sure, crossing her eyes instead in frustration) in consumer trends and metrics with the immense patience and understanding you’ve come to never see in an intern movie.

Lastly and not least-ly, Michele Prescott, Archbishop of the BCM Baptism program, organised the entire experience to ensure that all of the interns emerged from the quagmire of doubt, fear and advertising buzz words (I’m now comfortable using ‘synergy’, ‘infographic’ and ‘growth hacking’ in the every day) with a clear-headed and structured understanding of the real world QUT had foreshadowed for us.    

Overall, I can safely say the BCM Baptism has disappointed all of my expectations of an internship – coffee runs, banal paper pushing, envelope licking and being a human scratching post come to mind – and I couldn’t be happier. This experience has been an engaging, insightful, invaluable peek into the lives of Brisbane’s best and brightest – oh, and did I mention it’s really, ridiculously fun?

I’d like to finish by quoting the immortal words of The Devil Wears Prada’s very own Patron Saint of Patronisation, Miranda Priestly, in her examination of the role of interns:

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To which I say, yes, yes I have died – and seemingly gone to internship heaven.

Jack Cornwell is a Strategy Planning Intern at BCM

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