Ask Esther // 65

ASKESTHER

Hi Esther,

How are you? I had a question, and I’m not sure if you’ve answered something similar before but I hope you can provide some advice?

In late May 2015 I applied for a 6 month paid student internship with a FMCG company to join their in-house marketing team. There were about 5 rounds of the process to go through, including completing a project in 48 hours to submit a marketing campaign, creative concept and suggested promotional (offline and online) channels to execute the concept with a limited budget.

I made it through to round 3 of face-to-face interviews and wasn’t successful. The feedback was that they were looking for someone more junior and that I was over qualified – I’m currently in the last year of a Masters of Advertising part time, after coming from quite a few years working in marketing on the client-side. I thought it was worth a shot applying for this internship as the company is visionary and ground-breaking in their approach and a new player shaking up the FMCG turf, and I may as well leverage my status as a student at the moment and apply for all the internships/grad opportunities that I can.

The company posted some creative on social media last month which I think is lifted straight from my campaign – the overarching concept is the same, and the copy (although it is a statistic) is nearly identical to the wording and information that was central to my creative execution. The post in question isn’t conceptually like any of their other posts on social media and I feel like it’s too similar to be a coincidence.

How would you suggest I go about raising this with them – or do you think it’s something that I shouldn’t raise – due to it not being ‘real’ work, rather work done as part of an internship application?

I had hoped to get a job with them sometime in the future, but this has turned me off their company a bit – so I feel like I won’t be burning my bridges with them?

Any advice appreciated on what, if anything, could be done in this case.

Cheers and thanks,
Inquiring Intern

Dear Inquiring Intern,

Understandably it can burn a bit (or a lot) to see an idea that you gave birth to appear some time later without giving you any credit.

And while it is possible that your ideas were used, consciously or unconsciously by the marketer, it is also possible that someone else came up with the same idea independently. Every creative person will either see a duplicate of their idea somewhere or have an idea stolen outright, or possibly have their name disappear from an award entry.

Pick your battles. This isn’t one of them.

Move on from the frustration of not knowing and pat yourself on the back for nailing something that was then sold up the ladder and produced. You will have many, many more ideas. A few might be worth fighting for. Take it as a compliment that you were definitely on the right track.

The competition in obtaining an internship is fierce. You offer more than another graduate because of your life and work experience. Your prior experience will work for you with some prospective employers and against you with others.

Have you thought about applying for positions above internships? Given your experience and qualifications you might have better luck. Let this give you confidence in your ability and take the feedback on board that you might simply have been over-qualified to apply for a six month internship.

Don’t let it put you off the company completely, especially if it’s an employer you admire. If anything you are in tune with them. You just weren’t the right level for this job but there’s always a chance you might fit them for another role down the track.

Good luck

You can ask Esther Clerehan anything about putting your book together, getting a job, what salary to ask for or what to do when someone steals your ideas. Go on, Ask Esther. There is no other creative recruiter with more experience to educate us on the art of the job hunt. You can email her here at junior at wtf@lifeatthebottom.com (wtf null@null lifeatthebottom NULL.com).

Written by Junior
Originally posted on: 10/09/2015
Category: Ask Esther
Tagged: .