Getting Schooled by Your Interns: 3 Lessons Our Intern Taught Us on How to Make Your Internship Programs More Successful

Internships aren’t just about what you can teach the intern; they’re a two-way learning street. Allowing your company to bring on an intern means you’re giving members of the next working generation a real-life look into their future career, while your team members gain the opportunity to guide and collaborate with an innovative young mind.

In honor of the back-to-school season, here are three things we’ve learned about improving your student internship program based on our experience and exit interview with our latest intern, Jester Hutchison

The Workload Will Be Real—Leave the Coffee Runs to Dunkin’

During the interviewing process, it’s important that your company is upfront about the intern’s workload. Modern media often portrays student interns as being the “unofficial coffee runners,” but that could not be further from the truth at our agency. We presented Jester with real-world work from day 1 because we valued their input and knew they could handle the projects—something that initially took them by surprise. If you fail to explicitly state what type of work your intern will be doing, there’s a great possibility they might get overwhelmed or think they can get away with doing the bare minimum.

Have a Plan in Place for an Intern’s Downtime

It’s inevitable—those times when there’s not much work for your intern to do. We found that giving Jester a “capstone project” allowed them to always be continuously occupied with something when their workload was light. We suggest finding something that really interests your intern and putting a spin on it, so it relates to your company. Due to Jester’s interest in TikTok, our creative director tasked them with creating a “TikTok for Marketing” Lunch & Learn. With a budget, a deadline, and an expectation that they would present it to our agency, Jester felt that the TikTok assignment was valuable as a learning tool and as a “real-world pressure” situation.

Introduce Your Intern Early on to Your Daily Tech

Add a technology meeting to your week 1 agenda with your intern. Our agency uses Sharpspring—a Growth Revenue Platform—for sales, marketing, and more, but we didn’t think to introduce it to Jester until later in their internship, when we had an actual Sharpspring assignment to give them. When you get your intern acquainted with your company’s day-to-day technology right off the bat, it ensures they have something to learn about during the first few days—plus, they’ll already be familiar when you give them work to do with it.

Want to learn more about Jester’s summer at D&A? See the experience through their eyes here.