As the pressure on college students mounts, students like me are doing whatever we can to reap the benefits of an internship. As I approach my senior year at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, I’ve been “Ross the Intern” for the past three years. This summer, I worked in my hometown of Fayetteville, Ark., at Mitchell Communications Group providing PR support for a variety of internal and external projects.
While I had a great experience at Mitchell, I know not every intern is as lucky. Many employers can’t get past the common misconceptions of hiring an intern. That’s old school and time those stubborn myths should be debunked.
Myth 1: Interns require too much time to teach and manage.
True, but I have a solution – don’t mind the shadow.
Take your intern everywhere. Now, this doesn’t mean the shadow should follow you throughout the duration of the internship; the fledgling intern will eventually gain his or her wings and fly. It’s just a natural onboarding process, an easy way to “meet the neighbors” and get the gist of the company. And when your shadow starts talking, let it happen.
Personally, I used my time as a shadow to share my perspective and thoughts during strategic planning meetings. Yes, I was speaking to the big dogs, but it is what got my foot in the door. I built trust with the team and was on the radar in case other sectors in the company needed me for extra help. It also landed me the opportunity to carry out one of my ideas with a client.
Myth 2: Intern work is not quality work.
OK, so maybe my supervisor took a risk by letting me engage with a client face-to-face with an idea, and you are thinking, “Heck no. I’m not trusting an intern with my untarnished client relationship.” And you know, it’s true – intern work may not always be client-facing appropriate. Maybe think INTERN-al. Internal projects can often be overlooked, so back-burner tasks within a company are perfect for interns to tackle. Simply put, we don’t carry with us the historical baggage about what’s already been done.
Fresh from college social clubs or other work environments, ours is a youthful approach in adding fun to your workplace. Hey, who wouldn’t want Funday Foodtruck Mondays?
Myth 3: Interns are too young and inexperienced…I can’t connect with them.
Some might view our social media addictions as nails on the chalkboard. But, millennials can be the perfect bridge between traditional and digital tactics. We live and breathe social media; it comes naturally, we were born in this age and know that a consumer’s digital experience needs to be seamless.
Interns can help apply social value to all facets of the company and its clients. During my internship, we introduced the tweet caddy concept to increase a local non-profit’s community visibility. Just as a golf caddy carries your clubs and provides solid advice to improve your score, a tweet caddy shadows a particular golf group and provides live action tweeting and engages the gallery and golfing fans through social media.
Also, think of interns as having experience with a potential target market for clients.
Clearly, the new age of interns is more than your stereotypical coffee fetcher. Try one or maybe a whole intern task force and test our limits.
And, yes, all that time we spend tweeting and making Vine videos has a place in your company. #believeit
Ross Van Zandt is a senior advertising/PR major at Texas Christian University in Ft. Worth. He interned at Mitchell Communications Group this summer.