It’s that time of the year again – interns. The funny thing about intern programs is that it’s similar to Hallmark holiday planning – it never ends. This year, I’m co-chairing our office’s internship program. From recruitment to program planning to interviews – it’s a little overwhelming, stressful but oh-so rewarding. Interns bring with them new energy, a yearning to learn, and sometimes a naivety that helps bitter professionals (you know who you are) remember when there were no boundaries.
In a recent Bnet article, Robin Richards, CEO of Internships.com said, “Internships are valuable because they are a powerful means of expanding your social network. Personal connections and relationships are the easiest means to get you on the inside track for employment. With 7 out of 10 internships resulting in employment offers, we can clearly see a strong correlation between personal connections and success in employment.”
I agree with Robin 110%. My first internship is what lead me to my second internship, which landed me my first job – my dream job. So as I reflect on my previous internships and about our new group of incoming interns later this summer, I wanted to share my top 5 reasons internships are beneficial to us as professionals and to organizations as a whole.
1. On the job training … For managers: Interns provide first-time managers a chance to learn how to manage someone’s time, work through personal and personnel challenges and share both positive feedback and constructive criticism. This is a great role for middle managers who may not have direct reports to be better professionals. A successful internship program is one that utilizes the strengths of their interns, and helps the interns explore new skill sets. Interns walk away with a wider network and tangible work experience.
2. Expanding your network – interns and employees: Planning a comprehensive program requires people from different departments. An internship program involves every aspect of the organization and enables people who may not get to work together to plan and execute a collaborative project. For example, I’m co-chairing our program with a co-worker I attended one meeting with a year and a half. For interns, expanding their network is the most important thing they can do. My CORO internship opened up my doors to governmental affairs, non-profit, labor unions, media and communications and business. I continually run into people who were a part of the program or know of the program. It even connected me to my first job. Just one day of presentations, a solid introduction and a follow-up helped me get my foot in the door. You never know when you’ll meet someone who will help you 2,3,5,10 years from now. Every connection counts.
3. Recruitment: Internship programs are a great way to generate awareness and exposure for your company. When launching a program, there’s a lot of promotion that comes into it. From career fair booths, brochures, websites and the wonder of word-of-mouth marketing, internship programs generate awareness for your company and the great work you do.
4. Leadership visibility: I don’t mean coffee runs for your VPs or EVPs. Many times (all the time), our organization’s leaders are slammed. Running from meeting to meeting, and airport to airport. Finding time for our top execs to meet with interns can be time consuming. It’s what they walk away with that is the benefit. One hour to share ideas and remember why they created the organization is inspiring. And interns who have the opportunity to meet with C-suite folks helps them grow as professionals, build a stronger network, and ask questions from our seasoned and influential leaders.
5. Innovation: It’s common for us to get in a rut. New people bring new ideas and push us to learn that “we’ve always done it this way” is not going to pass for an adequate answer. When we talk about bright eyed interns, we say it with a little envy. The truth is – it’s that spark and energy that got us all where we are today. It’s what brings us into work in the morning – and why we are always looking for something new to learn! Interns are a reminder of that feeling – and it’s a reminder for us that we all have it, even if some of us think we might have lost it along the way. Trust me, you haven’t.
And although it’s not a number, it ranks high in each and every one of our key learnings – interns bring fun! Do you have an internship program at your organization or been in a great program yourself? Tell us about what you see the benefits are.
Last week, I happened upon a Bloomgberg article spotlighting Merck’s new CEO – Kenneth Frazier. The article was named, Merck New CEO Frazier Vows Innovation, Wider Markets. Of course, you can imagine my intrigue as a pharma marketer and lover and advocate for innovation. So, I read on.
Line after line, I read empty meaning to a word I hold so dear. At the end, all that was left with a slight feeling of resentment. Has “innovation” simply become another buzzword with subjective meaning? My colleague Wendy shared a great post with her thoughts on what innovation requires. At it’s root, innovation is about renewing something existing or introducing something new. Our hope is that this new whatever-it-is will solve a problem, bridge a gap and be a positive change within the organization, company, industry and world.
For the purpose of this blog, innovation is two-fold – how it’s done and then how the story is told. For companies who are truly innovative, there is a specific type of leader, culture and goal. You can feel it when you walk into their office. We know these companies. They’re the Facebooks, Amazons, Apples and Googles of the world. For a full list, check out Fast Company‘s Most Innovative Companies.
As for how you communicate it, my fear is that innovation was inserted into a key message document to perk our ears. It worked, but left me disappointed. As communicators, we need to stop inserting in words that make our clients sound smart, but fall short. Tell us the true story, in their own words. The next time you create a key message matrix, look at it, highlight on the buzzwords, and revise.
Have you seen companies be truly innovative? If so, what are they? Any bad experiences with buzzwords? Please share!