By Stacie Shurtz Garlieb, Beta Psi-Arizona State 2017-12-22 14:28:32
INTERNSHIPS: A WIN-WIN FOR STUDENTS AND EMPLOYERS Confidence is built on a foundation of competence gained through experience. Internships are a perfect way for KD collegians to get practical work experience in their fields. The most effective internships include training, mentoring and some type of feedback system. Internships also can be a beneficial experience for employers. Successful internship programs can create opportunities for internal development of existing employees, identify bench strength for expansion or backfill, and provide a way to offer professional development to the future full-time workforce. Interns can provide value in different ways based on the current organizational structure. An intern may have the freshest viewpoint to identify opportunities or potentially think outside the box. Interns also make it possible for full-time employees to focus on their strategic responsibilities and spend more time determining higher level processes and execution. The ability to ''get out of the weeds'' may re-energize a team to execute more effectively. Beta Psi-Arizona State alumnae Emily LaMar and Staci Sohren Neilson have several years experience managing interns at their workplaces. Fox Restaurant Concepts, where Emily serves as director of marketing, offers two types of internships: local store marketing intern for students with previous hospitality experience and strong communication skills and digital intern for collegians with social media tool experience and flexibility. The interview process includes two interviews - first with Emily and then with the direct supervisor. Emily says when creating an internship program, it's important to determine specific responsibilities and projects that are applicable to each intern category. At FRC, a local store marketing intern will work on external partner communication (i.e., property managers at the restaurants), conduct competitive analysis, manage the budget and execution for the donation request program, and participate in external culinary events, including setup and ensuring appropriate branding. The digital intern is responsible for staying up to date with competition within the digital and social landscape and writing all boutique brand social media with five to seven unique content social posts per week, while being sensitive to each brand's focus and objectives. Staci serves as staff project engineer at Honeywell Aerospace where a recent intern studying for a bachelor's degree in aerospace engineering worked on a group project with interns who did not have an aerospace perspective. This intern added significantly to the outcomes of the project. Staci also builds interns' skills and confidence by assigning projects that may lie outside of an intern's primary skill set. Emily recommends mentors be patient, assume the intern knows nothing and remember this is a learning moment for them. Emily says, '' Based on their lack of overall experience, they may say, 'I know how to do that,' but sometimes they don't really know how.'' She notes it is important to ''explain objectives and then ask the intern if there is anything she may need to review and/or ask questions about.'' This will lessen miscommunication and increase successful completion of projects. Staci suggests mentors '' be available and responsive as much as possible,'' remembering interns ''want to be useful and productive, but they need guidance to do so.'' Even the largest company with a tenured intern program needs to change up the activities the interns are involved in from year to year. Once the interns are in place for a couple of weeks, it's important to ask for their feedback and then potentially modify activities accordingly. Having interns cross-train between departments during their internship is another best practice that can let the entire internal team evaluate the interns' skills and ability to adapt. Encourage honesty with all members of the team. Showing flexibility and open communication to the interns will provide them the best experience and also produce the highest level of results from their assigned projects. Emily's advice to KD collegians during their internships includes: Start early in your academic career securing internships to get experience, be solution-oriented with every employer, and show the employer you are able to create work for yourself and share ideas. And to the KD alumnae who will mentor interns: The value you will gain includes remembering what you didn't know early in your career that you do now, challenging you to remember the basics, and receiving the positive results of coaching and guiding the next generation of successful team members in your industry. Stacie Shurtz Garlieb, Beta Psi-Arizona State, is president of Successful Impressions LLC that assists students and working professionals with career-search skills and supports businesses with candidate recruitment. She is a national speaker and author who has presented on various career-skills topics at collegiate and community events. In collaboration with businesses in various fields, she recruits at public and private universities, as well as community career fairs. She also supports city and corporate entities to provide content increasing workforce development skills nationally. For more information, including helpful books and job-search resources, go to www.successfulimpressions.net. TIPS FOR EMPLOYERS: For KD alumnae developing a new internship program, or participating in an existing one, here are some recommendations to have win-win results: • During the interview, establish expectations for the interns' work, including timeliness and communication standards. • Discuss the objectives and goals of the position as part of the initial recruiting stage and review them on Day 1 with clear direction on communication and organization processes. • Make sure everyone understands their individual expectations. This is crucial for the existing team and the incoming interns. Conversations about communication, organization and timeliness expectations should happen on Day 1. Interns will thrive if there is a clear discussion around how/when to use voice mail, texts, email or in-person communication. Mentors and coaches should be willing to explain the culture around work-space expectations and attendance. • Create meaningful, practical work experiences, including individual and team projects that support any administrative tasks in the role. • When you hire part-time or full-time employees, you have a clear plan on what role they will have in the organization and what their responsibilities will be. The same planning needs to take place for interns. This is an opportunity to evaluate the students' skills and how they could become bench strength for your company. Determine individual and team projects that will utilize their strengths and allow them to build new skills in the workplace. • Identify who will be a mentor or coach for interns – this may be someone other than their direct manager – and establish how that person will provide positive and constructive feedback. • Set measurable timelines and goals and keep interns accountable for reporting their progress against their goals on a regular basis. • Provide candid feedback to interns consistently during the internship and ask them for open communication regarding how you can improve the program and work experiences. • Any employee who signs up to support the intern team also needs to provide critical and positive feedback. These conversations should be two-way, so the interns can express concerns, ask questions and give input to add value to the organization. The best internships give specific objectives at the start and scheduled progress checks throughout. Interns should bring notes with accomplishments and any obstacles they have encountered to these discussions. Using this process will also make it easier to write a formal recommendation letter for the intern at the end of the internship. TIPS FOR INTERNS: Beta Psi-Arizona State alumna Staci Sohren Neilson, who has more than 10 years' experience managing interns at Honeywell Aerospace, offers these tips to help KD collegians be successful during their internships: • Research your company and know its market; determine where your role will fit in the company. • Be engaged and engaging. Make eye contact, smile and participate. Offer to help. • Treat your internship as a job interview; on any given day you could be introduced to leadership, customers and hiring managers. • Ask questions; be interested and open to every assignment. • Accept invitations to participate, tag along, review or observe. • Dress '' better'' than the status quo, arrive early and stay the full day. • Don't check your social media during working hours. Establish '' social media time'' for yourself (lunch, restroom breaks, etc.). Staci encourages interns to remember: Companies are trying to impress you, and many of them have a goal to have you accept an offer of employment at the end of your internship if you are viewed as a valuable member of the team.
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