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Observations of an Intern at Thompson Brand Partners

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I’m grateful to have been offered the opportunity to learn from the Thompson team for 6 weeks. They’re just as impressive in person as on paper – rare I think!

First thing’s first. What lovely people. I’ve had experiences on other internship programs where I’ve been made to feel like an alien from outer space (or what they referred to as Northern England… ) but everybody here was extremely welcoming. I soon realised that my tea and coffee privileges on my first day were not going to last long. Whilst I’m definitely not being given stacks of filing and paperwork to do and being charged with the title of Head Coffee Fetcher, I soon learned that the way to everybody’s hearts was to periodically offer to make a beverage round throughout the day. Tea makes the world go round. Ok, maybe just Yorkshire.

The real difference I’ve noted between Thomspon and my experiences elsewhere are the levels of trust and openness. There’s no tiptoeing around, everybody here strides through the eggshells with purpose. No elephants in this room. Intelligent thinking and questioning drive the way Thompson work and how refreshing is that?! So many companies include some of these buzz words in their corporate language, but I can affirm that here, it really happens. If something isn’t quite ready to go to a client, then it won’t go. The team never take a half baked idea to a meeting, but always present precisely thought out and intelligent work.

So what have I been up to? Lots! I’ve been sitting in on client meetings, which has been a brilliant insight into building and maintaining client relationships and trust. I’ve also been let loose on the blog and twitter and have enjoyed the freedom of choosing topics and using various different approaches to tone of voice. Relevant and up-to-date content is crucial particularly as search engines are getting more advanced. I’ve conducted a website audit and collated White Papers into more digestible crib sheets and I’ve been charged with a bit of idea generation too. It’s been a great learning experience.

My favourite moments are the TBP sofa meetings. The whole team gather at the infamous red sofa in reception for brainstorming sessions. I think these hours produce the best creativity, when everybody is bouncing ideas off each other and scribbling down everything on posters that eventually cover the walls. It really feels like a creative agency. And it’s not just designers who are the ‘creatives’ as you might be forgiven for thinking. Whether or not individuals are working on actually designing things, creativity is always at play. It may present itself in terms of a conversation over the phone, a new business inquiry, strategy meetings, or client liaisons; the account managers have huge creative input as well. Everyone here is an ideas person; the difference in job spec is how those ideas are developed.

This for me is extremely exciting. I’m not a designer myself, I studied English Literature at University and I was beginning to panic that I would struggle to make an impact in the industry without the full suite of Adobe skills at my fingertips. It can and is being done. Copywriters, account managers, client directors are all proof of roles where the ability to master Photoshop may be helpful, but isn’t required. Ideas and independent thinking are the absolute requirements for making it here.

What have I learned:

Tea is the way to peoples’ hearts.

Share all your ideas, don’t keep anything back – then you’ll get feedback on those ideas. Covet nothing.

‘Openness’ sounds pretty cliché but meh, openness!

I’ve seen work come through from original client requests over the phone through to completion and all the bits in the middle too. Really interesting stuff.

It’s what you do with what you know, not what you know.

Don’t be a Moaning Myrtle but similarly, don’t be frightened to disagree with something.

Ask questions. Learn all the time. Don’t be arrogant enough to think you could ever know ‘enough’ about something. There’s always more.

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