Many times we are so busy in our businesses doing what we have to do that we don’t take the time to slow down and do what we should do. One of the things businesses of all types and sizes should do is bring interns into their day-to-day environments. There are many compelling reasons to engage in internship programs at our companies and institutions, and here is a small sampling of reasons to do so:
• Economic and workforce development
• Corporate social responsibility
• Build an HR pipeline
• Bringing in new energy, insights, ideas, and methodologies to the workplace while improving the company culture
• Address and complete work that needs to be done
The company I work at, BlueBridge Networks, had six interns this summer. We are technology company, yet none of the interns we employed this summer was a technology student. We had interns in accounting, marketing, and business analysis. Their efforts were crucial to our success and bringing projects and tasks to successful completion.
One task completed this summer was a major marketing campaign. The intern, Leah Kracht, an Ohio State University operations management major, spent the summer researching and producing documents utilized in a team marketing campaign effort. The campaign produced opportunities for our company and allowed the intern to work a different side of the business than her major. Last year she worked in the accounting and customer service side. This year when asked in her exit interview if she had found her experience valuable, she noted, “It was valuable to see different sides of the business and learn how the operations relates to all of the day to day success”.
Another intern, Jenny Fitzgerald, a Cleveland State University accounting major, spent her first summer here at BlueBridge. She chose a mid-market company and data center to work in with the hopes of having more direct access to business leaders. She had learned of the data center business from a fellow accounting student present on our company and industry. She found the internship valuable in that she was able to practice important computer skills, such as Excel and MS Office, while learning real-life lessons not taught in school. She noted finding value in the 1:1 mentorship opportunities with different business leaders. Our company in return was able to bring closure to important accounting projects as a result of her work here. The exit interview articulated a strong sense of mutual reciprocity from the company and her and will continue on in employment here as her school permits ongoing.
The value of internship and mentorship in leadership and career development is a practice that is often underrated and underutilized. You never know what you are doing or saying when people are watching and listening and what a difference or an impact you may have on the rest of their careers (or lives) or their companies’ successes.
In the same manner, you may never know that what you are teaching is just the lesson you must learn again the most. The give and take of this trusted relationship is that, while you are expecting of others, you are inspecting yourself and your company. There is a symbiotic nature to a healthy internship mentor relationship. The reciprocity is that one reaffirms or challenges what is best for them by what they teach others. To teach is therefore to learn.
Are you now interested in learning more about the value of internship and how to effectively manage the process? If so, please consider registering for the Sept. 23 workshop, Maximize Your ROI: Return On Intern, presented at Tri-C West by the Northeast Ohio Council on Higher Education (NOCHE).
Kevin Goodman is the managing director, partner with BlueBridge Networks, a downtown Cleveland-headquartered data-center business. He can be reached at (216) 367-7580, [email protected], kevinjgoodman.com, and bluebridgenetworks.com.