20 October 2010

Six Tips For Running An Internship

Old timer Julian Cole wrote a cracker of a post, Six Tips to Nailing an Internship. I was fortunate enough to do two internships with Naked Communications and George Patterson Y&R, and would def recommend his list for any students looking for some experience.

But what about the other side of the coin? Based on my own expiration and many of my friends', here's six things I've learnt on how to run a kick ass internship...
1) Make them feel like one of the boys
Give them their own desk, stationary, computer, email address, rubbish bin, phone; you name it. Nothing says "temporary" like coming into work and having to wait for a chair.

2) Don't start the first day at 9am
Especially if it's a Monday. No one is ever prepared for an intern to come in first thing in the morning. On the first day give them the morning off and do an induction that afternoon. Make day two the big day they can get started.

3) Give them more than enough work
Perhaps the biggest complaint among my friends who have done internships, there's never enough work. Which kinda surprises me given how busy everyone is always complaining they are. There's often no expectation on an intern's capability, so make sure you've got something lined up when they come back from a two hour task half an hour later. This is generally why an intern will leave at 5.30pm.

4) Give them feedback on everything
Pretty self explanatory. On every task they do.

5) One long meaningful project is best
Rather than giving them a number of tasks each day that don't really mean anything, try to work out a project that will last the period of the internship. It allows them to think a bit deeper, keeps them occupied and they walk away feeling like they've actually achieved something.

6) Sit them next to someone rad
Don't sit them next to other interns. Put them next to someone who they can annoy all day with questions and who will show them which places to avoid food poisoning from at lunchtime. I sat next to Praveen during my last internship and learnt a heap just from him. Makes a massive difference.
I think sometimes organisations think they're doing interns a favour by taking them on. Which is completely true, just make sure the intern is getting the most out of it. I certainly appreciated it and they will too.

What does your organisation do to make their internships kick ass?


  1. Great article. Love #5 - the long meaningful project. Not enough companies do this.

  2. Zac,

    Thanks for the post. This is an area that many companies need to get a lesson in. It is shocking to me that there are so many people who are bringing in young people and not giving them a great experience in the work force.

  3. Spot-on, Zac.

    When it comes to work placements as a part of the Gen Y crowd, there are few things worse than being treated with kid gloves; it's a waste of interns' time and an unproductive use of employers' resources.

    Now, could you make a handy reference poster out of this list and distribute it to HR teams across the country? Cheers. :o)

  4. Zac,

    I just wanted to check back with you and let you know that we are going to implement your ideas when our winter interns get it. We see value in each of these area, and they involve no major overhaul. Thanks again.

  5. Haha good stuff, let me know how it goes!

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  7. Agreed #"Give them feedback on everything". Thanks for the reference guide.


The views expressed herein are my own and do not necessarily reflect those of my employer. Also ponies are evil.
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