The Mutually Beneficial Internship for Today's Digital Marketer
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Who are your potential mentors?
If you are looking to move an employee into a management role, having them oversee an intern is a fantastic way to provide management and nurturing experience. If you plan on having an intern, or maintaining an internship program, don't plan on having them show up and take the team's work scraps. It's unfair to the intern and does not further anyone else's career. Need an extra hand with social media content? First make sure that there is a mentor figure who can delegate meaningful work and impart professional experience. You could be shaping the career of a brilliant community manager, or you could be giving a worthless summer internship to someone who may resent your company forevermore.
"You should have better and more important things to do. And if you don't have anything better to do than order someone to get your coffee, then you aren't really in a position to be teaching or mentoring younger people, are you?," states Randy Milanovic, Principal and Author at Kayak Online Marketing, in a SociaMediaToday post ("No Unpaid Marketing Interns for Us").
What are you expecting of your intern?
Unpaid internships have been a mandatory rite of passage for many of us. Now how favorable do we remember that internship? Were you more influenced to pursue a dream career? During which internships did you exert the most effort and care? Consider a few factors that will harbor a setting wherein your intern is exerting positive, versus negative, energy:
- Respect for their mentor - Not as a serf would look up to their lord, but as a college student would to an expert with knowledge to share. Instilling fear and undue stress isn't going to make your intern work harder or create respect.
- Quality work - Sure, you didn't hire an intern expecting them to do the work of a full professional. But you hopefully hired someone with drive and desire to learn. Harness those traits and you'll both reap the benefits of diligent effort.
- A lasting relationship - If you treat your intern like a part of the marketing team with tasks aligned with their talents and interests, the foundation for a lasting relationship is easily built. Whether it be for a full-time job or a professional connection in the future, you never know when you could call upon the intern who showed promise and dedication early in their career.
You get what you pay (or give college credit) for
No matter how incredible of an opportunity you think you're providing to an intern, nothing comes free and this should include hours logged by an intern. Expecting quality work out of someone who is spending money to commute to your office is unreasonable. A pay check is not only incentive to show up on time and create high quality content, but it's a gesture that shows that their work is valued.
"Why not hire them, pay them a living wage, and make their initial work a probationary period? Aren't you more likely to get their best effort that way, and for your team to take them more seriously as a blossoming professional? Wouldn't you be doing the right thing for your new hire, and your company as well that way?," notes Milanovic.
While it may be difficult to delve into the vault of your internship memories, including repressed ones from unpaid, coffee-making times, try to take your interns seriously and they will thank you with work worth paying for.
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