Internship programs have been around as long as there have been eager young minds ready to take on new careers. Many more companies are jumping on the internship bandwagon in an effort to offset current shortages of certain skillsets. But when the influx of interns start hitting organizations each summer, are they getting the kind of experience they deserve — and the experience that will serve employers in the long run?
Transforming the internship experience: 3 organizations get it right
Giving interns real-life projects that have an impact on their careers — and the world — is one way some companies are building strong intern pipelines.
Red Tettemer O’Connell and Partners, an advertising agency headquartered in Philadelphia, PA and Santa Monica, CA with clients such as MorningStar Farms and Planet Fitness, founded a special internship program focused on the principle of taking action on social issues that matter.
The 12-week program challenges seven young professionals to pitch a social issue that’s relevant to them, create an actionable campaign to deal with the issue, and then track their success. Previous intern project themes included “Combating the Growing Opioid Epidemic in Suburban Areas,” “Motivating Millennials to Vote” and “Bringing Attention to issues of Sexual Abuse Against the Intellectually Disabled.”
What makes the program successful?
Interns benefit from a two-way learning loop – they get a chance to experience what the next generation of communicators’ views as a compelling challenge, while they also have the unique opportunity to work on something meaningful to them in a hands-on way. In the future, the shining stars of the marketing world will be among the interns who went through this program.
Advertising agency Greenlight, located in Dallas, TX has their own spin on what they think makes for the best internship program – a Texas-style BBQ competition. Over the summer, two interns were selected to develop a brand for Wild Swine, a team competing in this year’s Bacon Bash Texas, scheduled to take place in October. The goal is to help Wild Swine win the Best in Show, which is awarded to the team with the best theme, appearance, and spirit.
What makes the internship program unique?
Outside of the opportunity to take home the bacon, the interns get a chance to experience a real client project by wearing the hats of Account Supervisor and Creative Director, and collaborating with the rest of the Greenlight team to develop a social media and street team strategy, and a gear/onsite package.
Publicis Seattle takes a unique approach to internship programs, serving such clients as T-Mobile, Mattel, and HP. Their entire executive team takes a backseat to become the student, as interns take on the role of instructor. Interns are given a high level of responsibility to learn about emerging trends from the perspective of the latest generation of consumers, and this information helps leadership design better campaigns. Interns go through a structured 8-week program and are encouraged to share ideas openly.
What made the program impactful?
This year, the very diverse insight of participating interns was used to open up the dialogue with one of the company’s biggest clients to improve their business exponentially. This was a resume-building experience, but also a glimpse into the future of advertising in a global market.
In terms of recruitment efforts, these lucky interns have it made. But, nearly every company can create similar internship programs to attract the best and the brightest students for career opportunities. Using a creative approach that both gives interns a real learning experience and a chance to shine in front of peers is a good way to handle internships.