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The pitfalls of internships

As one of the smaller agencies, we needed to distinguish ourselves from the other agencies by not treading on the ‘big boys’ toes. So we focused on the smaller companies, and with my love of IT and knowledge of the local market segment, we ended up working with a lot of IT companies where budgets especially in marketing and communications is tight. You don’t know the meaning of tight till you work with some of them. So one of the ways of keeping my costs down and ensuring I deliver, is to welcome interns.

Interns or temporary staff that have worked with us either full or part time have been very lucky – they seem to get jobs quite quickly. Mostly down to them but I’d like to think that I had something to do with it too. When I get a request from an intern, I like to see that they get the full benefits of working with us. Not just as a lowly junior but as a valuable member of the team that is shown the ropes and explained why each task is undertaken, from checking out the newspapers and magazines to calling up an end customer for a case study. I also give them the freedom and trust them to get the job done and hope that they will ask questions if they don’t.

Overall, we’ve been lucky and found enthusiastic youngsters with a zest for learning and who have contributed to the growth of the business. But equally we’ve had youngsters that just disappear without any information or notice, leaving you flummoxed for a bit. However, try as I might, its difficult to imbue any of these interns with an understanding of how a business is run and that their role (especially in a small agency) is vital because it frees us to do other things.

So I would like to share some simple rules that might help interns:

  •         If you don’t understand something, its okay to ask questions more than once or as many times as you like. this is important not just for you but the business too. If you want to get a job at the end of your graduation, you need to understand why you’re doing something
  •        Be creative if you have suggestions, share them. Just because you’re an intern, doesn’t mean your ideas are not welcome. If they are not accepted, ask why they aren’t – its the only way you’ll grow
  •        Be punctual and meticulous – this is not a classroom. Being late is like telling others in the team their time is not important. And that is not good etiquette in business or in life
  •         If you want to drop out or change your mind, make sure you let your supervisor at the business know so that they can plan around you
  •         Be very sure that you want to do this – otherwise you are denying someone else this opportunity
So I want to help you - but you need to help me too.

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A perfect Friday

Ramadan from a long term non-Muslim expatriate