The 4 Internship Rules That Are Mandatory for a Valuable Experience

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An internship can – and should – be a launching pad for the rest of a young person’s career. That’s why providing maximum value for our interns is a responsibility we don’t take lightly.

As with all of our roles, we believe that internships should support the whole self, enabling interns to thrive both in and out of work, while advancing equity in the workforce.

These four components are vital to providing interns with a valuable experience, and they should be non-negotiable for any company seeking to build a meaningful intern program.

1. Interns should be paid a competitive rate.

There’s no question that interns should be paid fairly. Doing so should be a matter of table stakes.

Interns contribute their time, labor and unique perspectives that advance business objectives and leave a lasting impact long after they leave. Expecting them to work without fair pay, or worse, simply for the chance to add the experience to their resumes is unacceptable.

We believe an intern’s paycheck should reflect the value they innately bring to the table and enable them to live comfortably.

2. Interns should gain hard skills – not run errands or do busywork.

Interns deserve to walk away from their experience with real-world, tactical skills that help them progress in their field.

Content marketing intern Samson Yang has worked on a content optimization project, helping identify and strategically refresh Lifeblue blog posts to extend their reach. But first, project lead Kate Bielamowicz identified SEO certifications for him to pursue so he could gain a working-understanding of competitive analysis and keyword research.

Beyond that, Kate also anticipated the support he might need along the way.

“Kate gave me a lot of flexibility and she also gave me a lot of articles to read throughout the process,” Samson said. “I have a lot of questions since this is kind of my first time doing this, so her sending me these articles helped me have an arsenal of resources.”

3. Interns should gain soft skills and understand the context of their impact.

Being a good collaborator is key in today’s job market, so we not only show interns how fundamental it is to do so, but we also create space for them to grow as collaborators.

While marketing intern Evans Young gained experience in lead generation, he said the most important skill he acquired was the ability to flesh out ideas ahead of meetings so he felt prepared to speak up and contribute productive ideas.

“It’s learning how to add value without feeling pressured,” Evans said. “No one here acts like they have all the answers, even though they have so much more experience than me. It’s like we’re all in the same spot trying to figure out this problem to move forward together.”

To further advance interns’ sense of their work, provide them with exposure to other parts of the company. Set up meet-and-greets with team members in different departments and help them understand how their contributions fit into the bigger picture and make an impact long-term.

4. Interns should learn how to advocate for themselves in the workforce.

Without guidance, students are often left to their own devices to navigate the workplace.

Given that our job impacts so many facets of life – from how we spend our days to lifelong earning potential and critical benefits – it can be truly transformative to equip interns with tools to advocate for themselves.

That starts with helping them identify what they need to thrive and providing opportunities, like one-on-one meetings with key team members, to practice voicing their needs.

Naturally, no one expressed this better than intern Landry Allred: “My biggest takeaway was discovering what I want in a future job: being part of a company that invests in me as a person while doing work that impacts the world around me.”

Carolina Armstrong joined us last year as our director of people operations, leading and growing our people-first initiatives, remote team connection and organizational culture.

Appreciate our approach to internships? Apply or share our openings.

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We’re a full-service digital agency with end-to-end capabilities and a commitment to exceeding expectations. As a Certified B Corporation, we’re also proud to be part of a global movement of companies that believe business should be a force for good.

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