Every semester we have interns from local colleges who apply to work with us for the semester for NO pay. They do it for the experience and to build some portfolio pieces for when they start applying for jobs.
I’m always amazed that these young adults give up their free time to do this. I can’t help but think that there’s a lifetime of work ahead of them and they should be enjoying their summer off at the beach, or studying or working at a job that pays!
When I was in college, I didn’t do an internship. I worked. A lot. I did jobs that had nothing to do with my college major – restaurants, a video store (back when those existed), a doctor’s office, a welfare office… about as far as you could get for an English Lit major! But I think the world has changed a lot since those days. Today without some kind of experience, new college grads would be hard pressed to land a job against their competition. They need that leg up!
I’m really lucky to work with a great team of women who really enjoy the opportunity to be a mentor. We see it as a great way to share our experience and to help someone who’s just starting out. Personally, I also see it as an opportunity to meet the next generation, the up-and-comers as I like to think of them, and boy have we had some amazing interns. I wish we could have hired many of them on the spot.
I think our team enjoys the experience of having an intern here because we get a chance to meet someone who has excitement and a fresh take on things… someone who hasn’t yet become jaded and looks at everything with new eyes. It’s refreshing and I love seeing what we do through their eyes.
So while we hope we are inspiring them as they start out in their career, I think they also inspire us. Here’s how:
1. They challenge us. There’s nothing that makes you stop and think about why you do something more than someone asking, “why do you do that.” Suddenly, “because we always have” just doesn’t fit the bill anymore and you begin to question how effective your methods are. Maybe it’s time to rethink things!
2. They bring a new level of creativity to projects. They’re young, and fresh, and creative and not tired and have so much energy! If you’re giving them a good internship, then it will be a mix of projects – some of which they’ve learned about or done already and others that you’ll introduce them to. There’s nothing like seeing someone tackle something new with some gusto to remind you that you might want to bring some more creativity into your own projects!
3. They have experiences that we don’t. In social media, that’s critical. These students have basically grown up with a phone in their hands. Multi-tasking is second nature to them. Pay attention. You can learn a lot from them.
4. They introduce you to new things. They bring new ways of doing things to the table. Nothing makes me stop and think more than when one of our interns says, “We were working on a similar project in class and my professor suggested…” It’s like getting a free education! Well, sort of.
5. They remind you of what it is you love about your job. If you enjoy your job, and you start to explain it to an intern, hopefully your passion will shine through. Let’s face it…it’s really easy to forget that passion on a daily basis. But having someone new around to hear what you do and why you do it will hopefully reignite that little spark and remind you of just how much you love what you do. It will renew your energy!
Our summer interns finished last week. I already miss them and all they brought to the table. Of course it goes without saying that I will also miss all the work they do to help out in social media on a daily basis! So this is a thank you to all our interns over the years. Please know that you’ll be missed, and I hope each of you has learned a little something to take with you as you embark on your careers.
Now if you’re reading this, what is your favorite part of working with an intern?
I published this last night, and then today, saw this article on the possible demise of unpaid internships. What a shame. http://www.boston.com/business/personal-finance/2013/06/25/companies-that-ran-into-legal-woes-over-unpaid-interns/YQbPrmmqn7Ackyf8Mf98hJ/story.html