3 Ways Marketing Departments can Supercharge the Impact of their Interns

Nov 2, 2018

Marketing internships come in all shapes and sizes, and the roles that interns play varies greatly from organization to organization. Some interns are simply glorified coffee jockeys, while other times they play a crucial role in the work being done and the organization’s bottom line. Every marketing internship experience is different.

I should know. I’m an intern.

I’ve seen firsthand how a good internship can inspire students and kick-start a lifelong passion for marketing. At the same time, a poorly planned internship can break an intern’s spirit until they’re leaving with their tail between their legs.

When an internship is run correctly, it can be extremely beneficial to both the intern and the business.  Here are 3 ways that marketing departments can maximize the impact of interns.

1. Include your interns in the marketing team’s culture

The first and arguably easiest step to ensure a successful internship should be welcoming the intern into your workplace culture. The office can be an extremely intimidating place to a late-teen/early-twenties kid who hasn’t experienced an environment like that before.

Teaching them the ins and outs of the workplace is a great place to start. Introduce them to the people they’ll be working with. Include them in conversations, silly office debates and team-building events. Make them a visible and valued part of the team.

My internship strongly encourages one-on-one meetings for interns with everyone around the office, all the way up to the CEO. Getting to know everyone on a personal basis creates a much healthier social climate for interns. When interns get comfortable and understand the culture, it makes a difference. Interns communicate better and more often, which leads to better work. They will reach out and even expand their contributions because have a better idea of what people will want.

2. Don’t be afraid to test your interns

Many marketing managers’ first instinct it to limit what work they give to their interns. They believe some work is beyond their skill-set and the intern won’t be able to tackle the task. There’s no doubt that sometimes this is the case, but it’s still good practice to give the interns a challenge from time to time – especially early on in the internship.

Obviously, the work should be monitored, and feedback should not be too critical. By giving them a more difficult and complex task, you are taking them out of their comfort zone and forcing them to work harder and think critically. It’s good preparation for the workplace and will elevate their work during their internship.

Down the line, this is the type of work they are going to have to do, so throw it at them early and see how they react. You may even find out you’ve had a superstar in your midst the entire time.

3. Expect more from interns as the semester goes on

Just because an intern doesn’t know how to write a press release or pitch the media on her first day doesn’t mean she can’t develop those skills throughout the semester. Fostering those skills will help your organization and help the intern in the long run.

In return, help interns brag about these newfound skills. Have meetings to help refine their resume, LinkedIn profiles, and offer professional development tips. This can be a game changer for them. Make sure that progress is being made throughout their time with your department so that they are more professional and capable than when they started. You will see dividends in their work throughout the semester.

They will thank you for it in the long run — and you may even be thanking yourself. You just might have helped mentor and develop a full-time employee at your company.

By implementing these methods into your internship program you will see a difference in your interns and the entire workplace. And remember, word gets around on college campuses. Don’t be surprised if a better internship experience leads to better intern candidates. The right intern program can be an enjoyable and beneficial experience for all involved.

This piece was written by Max Derham.

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