Internships: How Agencies Can Create the Optimal PR Experience
With springtime around the corner and soon-to-be college graduates scanning the workforce, internships are a great way to provide future professionals with experience while bringing fresh perspectives to your team. We’ve put together tips on how to provide a meaningful, thoughtful experience for new feet walking in the door.
Advertise the internship in advance
Take time to research the most relevant job boards in your area. If you’re looking for a local candidate, post to school boards, social channels and surrounding publications. If your search is taking a national route, post on mainstream, heavily-trafficked sites such as Indeed – this will reach a wider breadth of candidates.
Timing, timing, timing. If you’re looking for a summer intern, plan to start posting in early spring. This block of time allows for interviewing, clarity and proper preparation for both parties.
In the job posting, be sure to include realistic responsibilities as well as expected hours and pay. Transparency will filter out unknowns, assure candidates of honesty and clarify expectations.
Provide a clear mentorship approach
Establish a main point of contact for the intern – someone they can always go to with questions or when they need assistance with a task.
However, keep in mind that appointing one employee as the designated mentor may not be the answer. In a recent HBR article, doctors suggest using the “mentors-of-the-moment” approach – encourage everyone on the team to engage with the intern each day, rather than pinpointing one employee as the sole resource for feedback. Remember, engagement can look like a quick walk for coffee – it doesn’t always need to be an in-depth conversation about career goals (although that’s a great idea as well).
Getting to know all employees at the company is essential for any intern. Meeting just one person provides minimal insight; connecting with multiple employees offers differing views and career advice. The more people an intern meets, the merrier.
Nail down the basics during the intern’s first week. What are his or her goals? How will they accomplish them? Using SMART criteria (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-based) is a good place to start.
Don’t forget to provide resources for the intern as well. This can be as simple as providing a contact list, FAQs and company policies and procedures that will come in handy.
Providing a wide range of opportunities for the intern is crucial. From media briefs and research to drafting pitches and participating in client meetings, there are a plethora of responsibilities an intern can take on. After all, an internship is meant to mirror every-day duties.
Schedule a round-up meeting the week before the internship ends. This time allows both parties to provide constructive feedback and identify the main take-aways. For example, what did each party accomplish? What aspects of the internship could be clearer? What was an unexpected? What could be improved upon for next time?
Providing a safe space for both parties to honestly talk about their experiences shows thoughtfulness and trust on both ends of the spectrum.