As an intern, I know you traditionally tell me what to do, but let’s flip those roles for now! I’ve got three tips for intern managers.
Be Receptive to Initiative
Most interns are eager to prove themselves, as this job is one of their first. Everything is new and exciting, and they want to make a positive first impression in the workforce. However, no intern wants to overstep or come across pushy or too eager.
I waited exactly three weeks into my internship before speaking up at a meeting. Here’s what happened: Two of my team members were discussing how to improve ad engagement and what they could do to get in front of healthcare and biotech marketers. I offered to research news sources and other outlets on their behalf to broadcast advertisements and be visible to key marketing players. They were both receptive and encouraging of my initiative. After I sent them my report, I received a thank-you email noting how helpful my research was. This boosted my confidence and my productivity — I felt valued and heard. While I acknowledge this recognition seems small, interns often feel small, so these signs of appreciation of initiative go a long way and reinforce work ethic.
So, why am I publicizing my failure? Because I was still met with a thank-you and recognition of my efforts. Learning wasn’t accompanied by punishment or shame. In addition to learning to consider legal risk of the initiative, thus realizing the process could not be automated, I gained a greater respect for the process and worked more productively. This small failure could have squashed my initiative, but because I was met with encouraging language, I kept asking for projects outside my daily tasks and had the opportunity to work on a variety of efforts. These included outbound emails for SiriusDecisions 2019 Summit APAC, field events packages (including identifying local chief revenue officers and chief sales officers for a field event), a sales cheat sheet, a sales enablement toolkit for SiriusDecisions 2019 Technology Exchange, a questionnaire on technology effectiveness, a webcast, campaign offers and this blog post! Inevitably, interns won’t always get the most exciting work — and we get that — but encouraging initiative beyond daily work bolsters productivity, insight and morale, as just one small, obscure morning task can fuel daylong motivation!
Inspire Interns Through Immersion in the Field
My manager set up eight one-on-one meetings for me with different members of the marketing team. Getting exposure to all facets allowed me to reflect on my skill set and career interests. I found marketing operations to be the most interesting, especially the technical and analytical aspects. I also attended four meetings with teams outside marketing, including inside sales, financial planning and analysis, HR, and research. This exposure has deepened my understanding of the company and its culture, and where my daily tasks fit into the larger company fabric.
The company value of inspiring employees extended into my assignments. My manager assigned me tasks that allowed me to learn more about internal operations and strategies, such as editing and cross-referencing e-books, and tasks that enabled me to learn more about company services, such as writing promotional emails for events.
Interns love being recognized and feeling like they’re part of a team. At SiriusDecisions, no one — within or outside my team — took credit for my work. I was cc’d on emails about projects I worked on, was thanked for completing every assignment and received encouraging messaging (being told I’m a “rock star”), which made me feel valued. The pinnacle of this inclusivity was at the weekly marketing team meeting. The CMO came in late and no seats were left, so I quietly signaled for him to take my spot. He declined, instead opting to sit on a bench to the side. Leadership didn’t diminish the importance of each team member, even an intern. In this meeting, I also received recognition from three team members for my contributions to their independent projects. I felt appreciated, seen, valuable and part of the team (and that is an amazing feeling).
How does encouraging initiative, fostering inspiration and being inclusive help you and your company? Well, you hired an intern for a reason — maybe you need an extra hand, maybe you want to scout new talent, or maybe you want to be a mentor and inspire someone to join your field. Interns like me who have a positive experience are significantly more productive and satisfied. Productivity helps your business immediately, but satisfaction lingers. Those who are satisfied not only have a desire to come back — reducing training time — but also spread positive comments about the business through their networks. These three tips may help you meet your deadlines; recruit your next superstar employee; or boost your reputation, perhaps even to potential new clients or recruiters!