Why Your Intern Shouldn’t Be Getting You Coffee
As hr inspire prepare to take on our first Intern this month we thought this may be a useful read from David Beebe, Vice President, Global Creative and Content Marketing at Marriott International.
This past Monday, as I scanned my badge and entered our headquarters lobby, I suddenly noticed something dramatically different. There was a breath of fresh air, a vibrant energy, and a feeling of excitement.
I looked around and noticed a very large group of people gathered together. There were all these young faces with big smiles; people wearing backpacks and carrying sack lunches. It was like 100 or so millennials had taken over the lobby. Then it dawned on me – the interns have started!
I was excited to see them because our global marketing department has six interns and we have one working in our Global Creative + Content Studio.
The responsibilities of interns and the structure of intern programs vary by company, but here at Marriott International, our HR department produces one of the best intern programs I’ve ever seen. The details of their three-month experience were planned, discussed and debated months ago by a diverse group of us who volunteered to work with our HR team.
Some companies may have them fetching coffee, making copies, and running errands, but not here. Interns are treated just like any other associate and expected to contribute their knowledge, experience, and point of view to the projects they are working on.
Besides the projects interns contribute to within their specific department, all of them across the company participate in a variety of events, competitions, and social gatherings. Our interns are paid associates of the company and they contribute in so many ways.
I knew Ryan, a senior at Penn State, was ready to jump in and get started, and we’re thrilled to have him and all of the interns across the company here working side by side with us. It’s like having a focus group of millennials at your figure tips every day to educate us. We usually pay a lot of money for this kind of access to this demographic as we test new products, campaigns, and other initiatives.
There are a lot of articles out there about how to be a great intern, but not a lot about how to be a great company for an intern.
It’s critical to think about how to learn from interns and how to connect with them, so here are some tips to consider as you work with your intern this summer.
1. Be prepared for their arrival. It looks bad if they show up and you’re not prepared.
2. Familiarize them. No matter how small or large your company, it’s important interns go through orientation, learn the history, the core values, the departments, etc. It may be old hat for you, but it’s not for them.
3. Don’t ignore them. If you don’t have work set aside, don’t assume someone else will find work.
4. Immerse them in the meetings (where it makes sense). Tell them up front that they are free to speak up, contribute and share their thoughts. They are there to learn, as you are to learn from them – they shouldn’t be relegated to a corner.
5. Ask your interns to update their LinkedIn profile. They should list their internship and share projects.
6. Engage company leaders in your program. Organize lunch and learns or meet and greets. It’s important to them to hear from all levels.
7. Give feedback to your interns. Don’t assume they know what’s good and bad. For many this is their first experience in the workforce and they need consistent feedback.
8. Assign a long term project. Outside of meetings and day to day projects, assign them and other interns or associates a project that they can work on over the span on their internship and present to your teams.