Grabbing coffee. Making copies. Cleaning the office. Preparing spreadsheets.
What do all these activities have in common? They are often assigned to interns.
Interns join your company because they are eager to learn and gain valuable work experience. They are often college students, or young professionals fresh out of college, that are willing to work for little to no compensation. Interns are an incredibly valuable resource, but this opportunity is often squandered by a manager who does not plan appropriately for the internship.
Interns want to feel as valued as your regular employees. While they may not work full-time, or have as much experience, your intern deserves to work on meaningful projects and to be treated with respect.
Here is how to make an intern feel welcome on your marketing team so that they can contribute fully to your agency.
Make a written plan.
It may seem convenient to pass work on to your intern as it comes up, but it is also a sure way to make them feel like an afterthought.
You should sit down with your intern on their first day to learn about their interests and what they want to get out of the internship. Use that information to provide them with a project that they will enjoy.
Of course, you may still want them to file papers and deal with administrative tasks, but you should make an effort to create a day-to-day outline of projects so that they can work independently when they arrive at the office.
Invite them to team gatherings.
Give your intern a chance to learn more about the company culture. If you host a team barbecue or staff lunch, make sure to invite them to participate. While you want your intern to take their job seriously, you should also show them that your agency is an enjoyable place to work.
If you are using internships as a test for new hires, integrating your interns in the company culture outside of work is crucial to their overall fulfillment.
Include them in weekly meetings.
Don’t underestimate your interns. While you may assume they don’t know how to contribute in a team meeting, they may be able to address an issue from a fresh perspective.
Invite your interns to your team meetings where you discuss significant ideas and projects. This time is also an opportunity for interns to learn what projects are coming up, and take the initiative on where they might like to help.
There is no better way to make interns feel that they make a valuable contribution to your company.
Assign them a personal project – and give feedback.
Give your intern ownership over a part of your marketing. Can you assign them your social media copy or the redesign of a new landing page? Of course, any customer-facing projects should pass through you and your team using a content approval process, but this kind of project gives your intern something to put on their portfolio at the end of their experience.
You want your interns to feel proud of the work they did for you, so give them the confidence to take on a project on their own, from start to finish.
Throughout the process, meet with your intern regularly to catch up on their progress and offer advice and constructive criticism. After all, you frequently check in with your regular employees, and you should do the same with your interns.
Even if you don’t pay your interns, you should respect them as if they were a full team member. They are enthusiastic, young people that want to learn from you and ask for little in return.
While you shouldn’t throw them into the fire on their own, you should provide clear expectations of the kind of work you would like them to achieve. Give them real projects and allow them to work alongside your core marketing team so that they become integrated with your company. You may be surprised at the kind of work you receive when your intern feels valued.