We’ve all seen the cliché of internships on TV – young twentysomethings eager to make an impression, relegated to fetching coffee, collating reports, and doing any other busy work their supervisors (or anyone else at the company) doesn’t want to do. Do they learn anything? Who cares, they’re free labor! Bring me another coffee, intern, with two sugars!
While the reality of internships isn’t quite so bleak, the idea of interns as cheap labor persists. It doesn’t have to be this way. A successful internship is one where both the business and the intern benefits – the intern from real-world experience, and the business by fostering a relationship with an up-and-coming professional as a way to invest in the future of their business. Here are three ways for your business to get the most value out of its interns, and prepare a new generation of allies in your industry.
Solicit Interns’ Opinions at Company Meetings
Every new employee brings a unique perspective to your company, so the nature of internships provides a constant cycle of new ideas. Invite your interns to your company meetings and request they come prepared with specific ideas to contribute. During the meeting you could make the effort to call on them, but if you focus on creating a collaborative and encouraging environment, they’ll likely feel comfortable voicing their opinions unprompted.
You can use the opinions and experiences of your interns to your advantage. For example, we recently hired two interns – MaKayla Stumph, a second-year college student, who is working with our Instructional Design team; and Arlo Macrorie, a high school junior, who is focusing on social media and graphic design. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, they spend the majority of their days in online classrooms. They have a unique and relevant perspective on eLearning, and we have a great opportunity to listen to their experiences and incorporate their feedback into our own eLearning solutions.
While it’s no surprise that student interns have relevant insights for an eLearning company, interns can be helpful to other industries as well. As newcomers they can bring a fresh perspective, while still possessing the necessary skills to understand their respective industries. For example, if your interns are a part of your target audience, invite them to share their opinions at your marketing meetings. Perhaps they have recent research experience that could be valuable to your business. Allow them to share their experiences as consumers, students, and professionals, and you might be surprised by what they can contribute.
Create a Supportive & Educational Environment
Even an unpaid internship doesn’t mean there aren’t costs involved. Internships come at the price of your company’s time and resources, but the return on investment can be substantial if you put in the work to give your interns a worthwhile experience. Take the extra time to show them the details of your process and encourage them to ask questions. Then give your interns projects to prove what they’ve learned and provide them with comprehensive feedback. When you invest in their education and trust them to do the work, interns are most likely to deliver the best results.
Providing your interns with quality training can also save you time in the long run. For example, our graphic design intern, Arlo, will be given in-depth training on our design process by our Brand Manager, Juan Alvarez. He’ll then be tasked with producing a library of content we can use on our social media channels. Contributing to Arlo’s education and providing him with clear direction not only frees up Juan to focus on other projects, but it also sets Arlo up for success. According to Juan, “Through practice and thoughtful critique of what [Arlo] produces, the expectation is that he’ll gain a stronger design sensibility and skills to apply for his future in this area.” Everybody wins when you’re dedicated to creating a supportive and educational environment for your interns.
Provide Networking Opportunities
For interns, one of the most valuable aspects of an internship is having the opportunity to network. Take your interns with you to outside meetings, events, and workshops. Provide them with tasks that allow them to connect with other professionals. Not only does this give your interns a more well-rounded experience, but it also strengthens the network of your industry.
Giving your interns exposure by promoting their work, is a form of networking that can also be mutually beneficial. For example, our Media Assistant and Asset Developer, Keasey Freed, ultimately landed his job with us thanks to a great internship experience with EugeneTech. He was trusted to create social media ads for one of their biggest local events and caught the attention of our CEO, Adam Wendt. “I really went the extra mile to produce something innovative and next-level, and local industry leaders noticed that,” says Keasey. In this case, EugeneTech received a free and effective social media ad, and Keasey was eventually recommended for a position at our company. Grateful for his positive internship experience, Keasey continues to further cement the bond between EugeneTech and Trifoia even today. The moral of the story is: set your interns up for success, and the rewards can be long-lasting.
There’s no such thing as the perfect internship, and busy work will always need to be done, but when you focus on creating a supportive and encouraging environment for your interns, it benefits both parties. According to Brand Manager Juan Alvarez, “We all win by having interns. Trifoia gets quality work and trains the next generation of leaders, [while] our interns get hands-on experience and a window into what it takes to succeed in the workplace.” So next time you have the opportunity to take on an intern, consider how helping them ultimately helps you.
Trifoia is always seeking out new interns to join our team! If you’re interested in applying, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.