Last month, I wrote up a piece for Forbes about the 5 keys to running a successful internship program and while the keys featured were applicable to any industry, it made me think about social media internships which are still fairly new to the game. Social media internships have the advantage of being roomy enough in terms of position requirements and the ability to try everything out at least once, but eventually some progress needs to be made to show that all of those hours of hanging out on Tumblr and Facebook are helping move you into a buzzworthy direction online. What should you ensure that every social media internship has from the get go in both the department and the interns themselves? These following four essentials have never steered me or my own social media team wrong!
1) A Paycheck
It's a controversial one to list, especially since so many internships are unpaid. You may think that if an intern only works 10-15 hours a week that doesn't necessitate a signature on a check, but when you factor in additional costs of commuting to and from said internship, plus additional work that is taken off when the internship begins to really take off, it's a good idea to pay your interns for all of their hard work. In the event that you can't provide a regular check, a stipend at the end of the semester or program period agreed on between you and the intern is another alternative to consider.
2) Hands on Work
Your intern isn't here to go pick up your daily latte from Starbucks - you can get that yourself. They're here to show off their skill set on social media, hone in on what they already know, and expand on outlets and networks that they haven't explored yet. Give them hands on work to complete where you can really chart their progress over time, particularly in the areas of writing and blogging.
3) A Positive Attitude and Initiative
This plays out for both parties. Interns should always approach their position like it's their first day and staying positive and motivated plays a big part in this. Slacking off or being unresponsive or unwilling to do finish a blog post on time or stay an additional hour after to wrap up a project gets noticed by both the boss and the internship coordinator or department head. The best way to avoid this happening is to keep the department constantly on their toes. Brainstorm ideas as a group on what to blog about, Instagram photos in and out of the office and make a Facebook album out of it, and create friendly competitions with the social media team to see who can pull in the most Twitter followers the fastest with fun incentives and prizes offered.
4) A Blog of Their Own
Those who work in social media tend to be freelance writers or bloggers on their spare time and I encourage that they pursue additional writing on the side. Make sure that everyone on your social media team has a blog of their own outside of where they work that they actively keep updated and write on. This is great fuel for moments where writer's block attacks and you need to do some free verse writing in order to get back to your regular writing groove. Plus, it also makes for a record of your time spent at the internship which could very well help you out later on to look back on!