Interns might be the most under-utilized marketing tool out there. As an
Inbound Marketing Consultant
here at HubSpot, I rarely spoke with a customer who was accustomed to hiring interns. Only recently did it occur to me that this could be a pretty significant omission in anyone's marketing plan.
Here at Hubspot, we typically have several interns working on different projects and in different departments. They rotate in and out (typically by season) and are pretty spread out around the office so they can tend to fly under the radar, so to speak.
Last week, however, our interns came together and
caused quite scene at our 5th anniversary celebration
. That's what got my attention and that's when I took notice of a couple of things. First, I hadn't realized how many interns we had working with us. Though the majority of them work on the marketing team, we will leverage interns anywhere in the company that has a need. The second thing that struck me was the energy and talent they brought to the team. These folks are interns in title only. Though they are here to learn, they also contribute their own thoughts and ideas that often lead to great results for the team.
That's when I found myself asking the question, why don't more companies have this built into their marketing plan? Maybe it's just an honest oversight and lots of readers are nodding their heads as they read this post. Or, perhaps, the value of interns has just quietly increased and lots of folks just haven't noticed.
To that point, here are some thoughts on how marketers can leverage the power of interns.
1. Interns Can Provide a Ton of Value....If You Let Them
I think there remains a misconception about internships and what they mean to the individuals who partake of them. Internships today are a critical element of learning and career development. It's not like it was 20 or even 10 years ago when simply landing an internship at a cool company could be seen as a resume builder. Interns today are looking for meaningful work experience that can help them as they launch and build their careers. Whether they are a college student preparing for graduation or a seasoned professional considering a career change, the experience individuals gain during an internship can be a game changer for them. Give them the credit they are due and real, relevant work to do and you'll see the impact they can make. If you are in need of someone to make copies or
run errands, hire a service
. Interns are best utilized when addressing real business needs so you can reach those ambitious goals you've set.
Here are a few great ways in which interns can contribute:
Writing blog posts, whitepapers or ebooks
Managing social media accounts
Testing landing pages and Offers
Designing targeted campaigns
2. Expect Temporary, But Hire for Full-Time
If hiring an intern is part of your plan, then the next very important thing you need to consider is the cultural fit. Even though this is likely a temporary position, you are going to want to be certain your interns are of the same ilk as your full-time employees. The plan is to get them right in the mix and contributing to your team, so interview as if you were indeed hiring a full-time employee. You never know. At HubSpot, we have no fewer than 3 full-time employees who started here as interns.
3. Set Them Up for Success
You want to give interns "real" work to do, but remember they are there to learn, so make sure you place them with an individual or group who understands that and can act as a reference and or support system so that everyone wins.
So whether you are in need of marketing help (blogging, running targeted campaigns or doing research) or need help meeting other business goals, consider hiring an intern. It's a win, win, win. You get the help you need. They get the experience they need and you have one more driven, smart individual educated about your company. Perhaps they will be back as a full-time employee.
Do you currently hire interns? What's your advice?
Originally published Jul 29, 2011 3:30:00 PM, updated October 20 2016