Rei Lindemann is a marketing intern with M&C Saatchi in Tokyo. Read on for her journey to the internship, as well as for her tips for getting into a creative industry.
It’s September 2019, and the UCL campus is flocked by new students. Amongst these, Rei Lindemann walks about–her bouncy, curly hair shining in the late autumn sun. Half-Japanese and half-British, she feels at home in the multicultural environment around her. In spite of this, something isn’t quite right. Although she’s enrolled as a History student, her aspirations lie elsewhere.
“During my graduation trip, it was really the first time when I put my Spanish to practice, and used it in a situation outside the classroom,” she recalls. “For me, that experience and getting to meet people brought about a really simple realization: I can use this language to share my world to people I have never met before.” Feeling like something was lacking in her initial decision to study history, Rei focused her time on renegotiating her degree at UCL. After hours spent at the SELCS office, she got a confirmation: she was now a BA Spanish and Management student.
Having personally known Rei since high school, I know she is not one to take her interests lightly–instead, she explores her passions with the deepest commitment. “Most of the things I decide to do start off as a crazy idea,” she notes. This perhaps explains why, following her switch to Spanish and Management, Rei began entertaining the possibility of interning in Colombia.
“I was really inspired by this one city called Medellín… recently, it has gone through a lot of urban development and become a really cool, creative hub in Latin America.” With inspiration from her new classmates, Rei applied to anything she could find. “I applied for sustainably farmed e-commerce food distribution, reggaetón production companies, radio stations, news stations, and the Japanese exchange center in Medellín,” she explains. Finally, she was offered an internship with Ruta N, a government-sponsored tech-incubator.
“Most of the things I decide to do start off as a crazy idea.”Rei Lindemann
However, Covid-19 was quick to demolish Rei’s hard work. Sent back to Tokyo, she found herself at square one. “I was really confused as to what I wanted to do… but then I realized, one thing I really wanted to do was get experience working in a Japanese environment. I decided: even if I never live here, I still want to work with Japan in the future.” Utilizing similar means for getting her internship in Colombia, Rei got another internship with M&C Saatchi, an international advertising firm.
Rei’s successes, however, may have amounted to nothing if not for two things: self-reflection and persistence. At university, one can easily fall into opportunities which may not suit your personality or interests. Investment banking, consulting, and related fields are rewarding–but they’re not for everyone. In the case of Rei, finding internships began with recognizing her current passions for graphic design and international business collaboration. She settled on the idea of working in advertising or marketing, noting “even if it may not be final, it’s the best thing right now.”
Once you’ve thought about what you want to apply for, you can also think how you can get to a position tactically. For Rei, her international background was something she highlighted in her applications. “Japan is this strange place–it’s a high profile country, but it’s not as international as people might think. Instead of trying to pursue an internship in London, where it can be quite competitive, I had to think strategically how I could get my foot in the door. After that, you build connections, helping you start your career.”
“Easy doesn’t necessarily mean lazy–it’s just strategy.”
A second, and critical factor, to finding internships in a creative (or generally non-traditional) firm involves persistence. In looking for opportunities in Medellín and Tokyo, Rei sent messages to different companies through Instagram DMs, Facebook Messenger, LinkedIn, and email. “Sometimes,” she laughs, “people reply to Facebook messenger.” In our interview, she’s quick to note there’s no need in waiting for companies to actively start recruiting interns. With creative firms, be brave and reach out – they may not know they need an extra hand. For M&C Saatchi, Rei recalls having sent three emails before getting a response. There is nothing wrong in pushing for an opportunity you want, because it could be what gets you noticed.
So – before application season starts, take the time to think about what field fits you the best. Where do your strengths lie? How can you pursue a career which combines your interests? In the words of Shakespeare’s “Hamlet,” remember: “though this be madness, yet there be method in it.” With self-reflection and persistence, something crazy may just be something achievable.
If you want to learn more about Rei, follow her art instagram here: https://www.instagram.com/reimarie.art/
Disclaimer: All art in article is by Rei Lindemann.