To Intern or not to Intern? That is the question.
Agencies often forget just how important Interns can be, so how do we get them to sit up and take note?
By Sharon Botha | June 8, 2015
Agencies often forget just how important Interns can be, so how do we get them to sit up and take note? I’ve had the fortune of heading up the internship programme and youth marketing division at my current agency. I’ve been in this bustling, energetic industry for over 26 years and am still surprised on a daily basis by how young people communicate why they want an internship or want to ‘job shadow’ and how agencies react.
The biggest challenge over the years has been communicating to my collegues just how important it is to us that we understand that intern programmes create immense value. The reality is – we barely have enough time to get through our daily workload. Where do we get the time to hold an interns hand along their first professional experience?
So let’s begin with - How do we become great internship mentors when we have no time?
Top 5 tips on how to be a mentor to an intern when you have not time:
- Rotate interns through departments – this way they get the ‘full’ picture and everyone gets to contribute to their experience.
- Allow Interns to ‘shadow’ - this way they learn what ‘a day in the life is like’ at your agency with all various individuals.
- Set up weekly meetings - even if time is tight it is important to ensure that your program is adding value. Set quantifiable goals that are achievable and listen to feedback, some interns don’t feel that they are being challenged enough!
- Be transparent - interns have come to learn as much about the agency as possible fostering this culture is very important.
- Trust - that interns deliver value, they are not there to run errands or make coffee. They are there to get ‘real feet-on-the ground’ experience. AND always acknowledge good work !
Right, so what should interns do to make it ‘their time to shine’ :
- Do your homework before your interview, research the company.
- Dress for success – ‘Dress for the position you want, not the one you have’.
- Treat your internship like a ‘real’ job. If you want the employer to take you seriously you need to take the job seriously. “you are learning in an active, real-world environment, so your contributions (your mistakes) affect other people.”
- Practice good time management, be on time for work and meetings. It is important to be organised.
- Ask Questions, this shows that you are willing to learn and have a genuine interest in the agency.
- Take initiative BUT accept guidance.
- Be respectful, but assertive – be expected to be taken out of your comfort zone and do necessary but boring tasks with grace but don’t be taken advantage of.
- Don’t profess to know it all – you don’t.!
Lastly, I have had the joy of many intern interviews.
A simple guide for interns on
‘The words you should’nt use in your internship interview’ :
My best ever – so at number 1:
- Whatchamacallit – ‘A word used when the actual name of the object/situation in question will not come to mind’ Seriously!! I also did not know.
- Um - The biggest problem with this word is that you’re probably unaware of how much you use it.
- Perfectionist – This is the most popular among overused, meaningless clichés.
- Basically – It’s tempting to use the word as a prelude to your achievements, but don’t. For example, “Basically, I organized the whole event” In reality you only put up all the pull up banners!
- I – In today’s hectic work environment, you need to be a team player.
- Amazing – so you used the word as a filler to be positive. So the discussion was around ‘we re-trenched 20 people last year’ your response…. Amazing??’
- Stuff – What does ‘Stuff’ mean? The same as whatchamacallit!!
- Dedicated – this sounds like you got it off the internet. Not a differentiating feature.
- Motivated – we all need to be motivated on a daily basis to just to get out of bed! Don’t use it, you might as well say ‘I’m breathing!’
- Lastly , ‘I want to learn’ you had better want to learn, why else are you here?
Right so in Madiba’s words: “whenever I am with energetic young people, I feel like a recharged battery.” Nelson Mandela