You’ve sent them their acceptance letter, now what? The point of internships is for students to learn, gain skills one can’t in the classroom and maybe even land a full-time role at the end. But this doesn’t have to be limited to the career-hopeful. Here are five ways to ensure a mutually beneficial internship experience for you and your business’ newest protégé.
Use Their Age for Perspective
Young people saw the largest voter turnout increase of any group in the 2018 election, and college students had $574 billion in spending power last year, according to SheerID. Especially in any field that relates to public opinion, GenZ coworkers can bring a fresh perspective. What political and social issues are they passionate about? What media outlets and platforms do they get their information from? What brands do they prefer and why? Use them as a soundboard for ideas geared towards younger audiences and save the cost of market research while you’re at it.
Bring Them Along
Interns can learn a lot by doing various tasks but shadowing, sitting in meetings with colleagues and clients can also be an invaluable learning experience. They’ll not only get a more in-depth understanding of projects and the clients themselves but they can watch strategies in process and learn professional business skills. Having them take notes during meetings with clients to have on file can also be helpful. When appropriate, they can chime in on ways they can help with certain initiatives and share younger perspective in discussions.
Utilize Their Tech Skills
While this generation of interns may not have had iPads in their hands at their first birthday party, they most likely had cell phones by middle school and fully-fledged social media profiles by high school graduation. Technology is second nature to today’s interns and they pick up new applications quickly. Especially if you’re lean on the digital side of the business, this is a place where interns can be helpful to you while they get to expand their skills from software coding to social media.
Actually Get to Know Them
By getting to know your interns’ interests, you can better work with them to identify opportunities related to things in which they actually want experience. What work do they like doing? Do they have career goals in mind? They may have a particular skill or interest you didn’t know before and allowing them to work on certain projects that focus on those will produce a better work product for you while they get to hone their skills. As with any project, the more someone is personally interested in something, the more dedicated and successful they may be in accomplishing goals related to it!
This sounds like a no-brainer but especially for companies with a variety of projects going on, being clear with your asks and assignments is key. This not only helps the intern with time management skills but lets them see how you prioritize tasks as well, and in turn facilitates an overall smoother workflow. Taking a minute at the beginning of their internship to explain the background on the project or client will prevent future time wasted on questions later on. The better the understanding of what is needed, the better the finished product.
Lily Holmes is a summer intern at Scott Circle Communications (@scottcircle), a Washington, D.C. based public relations firm working with mission-driven clients. She is a rising senior at the University of Georgia, where she majors in Journalism and Political Science.