The Best Ways to Nurture Marketing Interns

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As we approach summer, many companies will be welcoming summer interns to participate in their companies in various roles. This gives young people the opportunity to learn about their professional interests and gain hands-on experience. Meanwhile, companies get extra support for a few months out of the year—in addition to gaining the chance to nurture future talent. 

In best-case scenarios, they’ll be forming relationships with burgeoning talent who might, in the future, become fundamental in shaping the future of the company. Because the company invests in these young people at an early stage of their development, the young people are doubly invested in the brand and might choose to dedicate their skills, if not a significant portion of their career, to that company (over their competitors). In other cases, they might become ambassadors or otherwise showcase loyalty to the brand as they move forward in the world.

For marketing teams, this raises the question of how to best cultivate and apply their marketing interns. You want to give them meaningful work that helps them better understand the work and the company. But you also want to make sure they’re given work they can handle and feel good about completing.

 Here are three tips for assigning work to marketing interns, in particular, this summer:

 1) Learn Why They’re Excited About the Brand: During the interview process for interns, it’s vital to discuss why they want to work with your company—not just why they’re seeking a marketing internship (which might be mandatory for their degree, or it might be a way to make money during a summer break). For you, it’s helpful to know what they already know about your brand and what gaps are present in someone’s general knowledge of the brand for this demographic. If they’re chosen, you’ll want to help close those knowledge gaps while building on their preexisting areas of interest. Example: Maybe someone wants to work for Coca-Cola’s advertising team because they have always been enamored of their historical, groundbreaking, uplifting campaigns. This would be very different from someone who’s a big fan of their Super Bowl commercials and hopes to work on big-budget efforts like that one day, or someone who claims they always laugh out loud at the brand’s social media account and wants to learn what goes on behind the scenes to get those posts approved. Being able to fit people with the type of work they’ll get to do during the internship is important, and learning what drives their passion enables you to give them a chance to really shine.


2) Choose Fulfilling Tasks: In some cases, interns are given “easy” tasks, because these are things they can do without too much prior experience. They won’t need a lot of oversight, and nothing terrible will happen if some revisions are needed. However, low-level paper shuffling can leave interns feeling unfulfilled. And the goal should be to get them excited about the work that your team does. Example: Instead of asking them to check off a list of who’s RSVPed for your big event and highlight who still needs a follow-up, invite them to consider why those people have not replied yet and what tactics might get them more enthusiastic about the event. Challenge them to draft an email—from subject line to call to action—that will entice your invite list to RSVP within 24 hours of receiving your team’s follow-up email. This is a more creative and stimulating task that still leads to having them circle and check off names on your list.


3) Give Them a Big-Picture View: Although your intern should spend 90% of their time learning about marketing at your company and contributing toward marketing team projects, it’s important for them to understand where the team lives within the greater organization and how the work matters to the company’s bigger mission (as well as near-term goals). Example: Helping to come up with inspiring taglines and complete a beautiful brochure can not only make the intern feel productive and confident—ideally while learning some new skills—it can also give them something to put on their resume and in their future portfolios. However, understanding how important those clients are to the company and how the campaign’s success will help the company reach quantitative goals (like revenue goals) puts the work into perspective and allows them to become more business-minded marketers. If they do ultimately come to work for the company someday, this is a useful context. Giving them tasks that allow them to engage interdepartmentally and collaborate with staff in other areas can also build on their comprehensive knowledge while making them better all-around professionals—and improve on their day-to-day work with you, as well.


We wish both interns and the companies they choose the best of luck in forming long-term relationships with one another in the coming months.


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