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Managing Interns: Tips and Advice

I saw a set of questions online about how to manage and mentor marketing interns.  As I used to manage and mentor lots of consultants including interns when I worked for Deloitte, I wanted to share my 2 cents.   The questions didn’t specify whether these were high school, college, or MBA interns, so I will assume these are college interns

Q1) what are some tips and advice on motivating team members to mentor interns? what are some ways to encourage team members to foster their leadership and mentorship skills while utilizing the interns?

There are four things you can do to motivate team members to mentor/use interns

  1. Market interns as a free resource team members can use to lighten their load.  Anyone would want to get free help
  2. Each intern needs a designated team member mentor.  Allow your team members to choose their interns instead of assign them one.  This encourages the team members that volunteer first to get first picks and they get who they want.
  3. Make it mandatory for everyone if you have enough interns and add their performance as a mentor part of the team member’s performance review under Leadership Potential. This will align incentives with your goals.
  4. Provide a short training on how to best mentor / utilize interns. Provide examples of appropriate intern task.  Steps to follow to provide proper mentoring.

Q2) What are some ways to keep interns engaged and motivated in an internship program?

You can try several of the following ideas.

  • Create an Intern Event (90 min) near the end of the internship – require all team members and intern to attend. At this event, give each Intern a chance to present 5 min – what they did and what they learned.  This will provide an opportunity for Interns to present and will motivate team members to give their interns some meaning work. Maybe provide food and do it during lunch to minimize impact on work productivity.
  • Same as 4 above. Provide training to team member mentors so that they know not to just give intern only mundane work like copying and arranging meeting.
  • If times allows, have a team member be the Intern Advocate for all interns.  He or she can have meet with Interns to figure out what they hope to learn from the internship.  From that, the information can be disseminated to all team members with interns to try to incorporate.  He or she can also be a go-to person if any team member or intern is experiencing difficulty during the internship.
  • Manage Intern expectations.  A lot of their work may be mundane like filing and copying.   They are there because they are trading that work for opportunities to learn new things as well.
  • If in case you don’t have enough team members for all the interns you hired, then perhaps try an Apprentice Model. Split them into 2 or 3 teams with one team members each and have them either compete on one project or each team work on separate projects.  Either way, there needs to be a final presentation by each team.

At the end of the day, even though interns are young,  they are also smart and ambitious.  The focus is to create opportunity for them to learn something new while allowing team members to offload some of the low-level tasks to them.

Q3) What are some example 1-month marketing projects that interns could be assigned in addition to their daily tasks?

This one is kind of hard to answer.  I would delegate this to each team member who has an intern to come up with a 1 month project that an intern can work on and help support that team member’s work.  Some example can be

  • Market research work regarding a new target customer segment
  • come up with campaign copy if the target audience is the age of these interns
  • Competitive research

Hope that helps.  I am always in your corner

Lei

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How to Improve Your Soft Skills?

How to improve your soft skills is an important question to answer for your career success.  It is also a tough question to answer in general as soft skills encompass many different skills in two general categories. self management skills– those we use to manage our emotions, self-perception, and reactions to unexpected situations. Examples of…

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What are Soft Skills?

I must admit I had no idea what are soft skills when I graduated from college.   I quickly realized on my first job at McKinsey how my lack of some soft skills were affecting my performance reviews.  Here are some of the soft skills I lacked at that time. Stress Management and People Management Skills…

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Forgive and Forget – Key to Career Success

I had a real scare yesterday. My 3 year old daughter, Isabel, lost her balance and fell from an 8-feet-high rope ladder, head first. I screamed, and although I was a few steps away, I couldn’t reach her in time. She hit the dirt on the side of her head and right cheek. Luckily, her head does not seem to be injured. Besides a shiner on her cheek, she was just super scared.

As I’ve reflected on this experience over and over again during the last 24 hours, I’ve realized a distinct difference between how kids handle something like this vs. how adults handle it. We, as adults, can better achieve career success if we behaved more like kids when we “stumble and fall” in our life or career — forgive and forget!

We are all imperfect.  We can all make mistakes in our careers, or be treated unfairly by someone at work. Can you think of a time when this happened to you? I can think of a few. How long did you hold on to that moment when you stumbled and fell a little in your career? For many of us, we spend months, or even years, blaming ourselves or others for what happened. Forgiving and forgetting is far from our minds. I am writing this to remind all of us to forgive and forget in life and at work.

It took Isabel about 20 minutes to get over the scariest experience of her life. She simply acted like nothing happened! I know she will want to climb another rope ladder the next time she sees one. I think most kids are like that, which is why we tend to say that they’re so resilient and learn so quickly. They don’t hold onto negative baggage or blame, which means they can move into the next moment and absorb it 100%. It didn’t even occur to Isabel to blame me for not catching her, or that other kid who stepped on her finger before she fell. She just dealt with the accident and moved on once she felt better.

It seems so simple, yet many of us lose that ability to be resilient — forgive and forget — once we grow up. I still want to blame myself for not catching her, or I want to blame the parents of the kid that stepped on her finger. I’m catching myself, though — I’m realizing that every moment I hold onto bad past experiences is a moment that I am not 100% in the present, learning and evolving. The same applies to bad experiences we may have had at work.

Stop letting yourself relive your past career mistakes. Forgiving and forgetting is key to your future career success. We are all imperfect, and unfortunately sh** happens sometimes. The best way to deal with it is to move on so you can experience every new moment with freshness and 100% focus.

Good luck. I look forward to your thoughts. Please provide comments in the box below.

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I am always in your corner.

– Lei

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