Two-Way Street

PR, social media, events and incentives – Collaboration & communication ideas for demanding businesses from The Castle Group's Mark O'Toole

Monday Morning Intern: Responsibility Reaps Rewards

Posted by thecastlegroup on July 27, 2009

We asked our summer PR intern, Emily Grund, to write a weekly column talking about her internship experience at The Castle Group. Please tune in Mondays to hear about Emily’s latest intern adventures. Are you giving your intern enough responsibility?

A common issue discussed about interns today is how much responsibility they should have when it comes to social media. Some people believe interns are a great resource; companies like Pizza Hut have put their 22-year-old intern in charge of their Twitter handle. Others argue, despite college students’ knowledge of social media, that companies should have a more experienced employee in charge of online company branding. I agree with the latter, but also think this raises an important issue of intern responsibility overall.

Fortunately for me, my internship at The Castle Group has been a great example of balanced responsibilities even when it’s not social media-related. Below are suggestions I’ve found helpful throughout my internship.

Meet halfway. A common tip for interns is to take initiative. This is a valuable lesson in order to get projects you’re interested in and get answers to your burning questions. After all, your superiors aren’t mind readers. However, as someone who has had multiple internships, it’s not always as easy as one would expect. Many times interns do not want to bother anyone who looks busy and fear of rejection keeps many interns in a “don’t speak unless spoken to” mode. At Castle, I have had the luxury of having constant communication with everyone. They have told me that their doors are always open, and have encouraged me to ask questions. Others check on me to see what I am working on and how everything is going. Building that open relationship has been key to making sure everyone’s goals are being met.

Leave room for mistakes. The main issue for those who don’t agree with social media interns is that one bad tweet could ruin the company’s reputation. This doesn’t mean you can’t let the intern write the tweets, rather make sure someone sees them before they are posted. At Castle, I was given the opportunity to write a pitch letter, but by no means was I responsible for sending it out to the press after I was done. Instead, I was able to see the edits they made and how I could improve if I were given another opportunity. This does not excuse interns that continually mess up a task they have been taught to do, and interns are expected to have a certain level of skill when they are hired, but internships are ultimately learning experiences. The staff here has been willing to give me tasks they could probably do better by themselves the first time around, but their patience has allowed me to learn things I would never learn in a classroom.

Have daily tasks. A sense of routine is good to have in any job, internships included. On a project-to-project basis, there is bound to be down time, so having continual responsibilities gives an intern an idea what working there would really be like. At Castle, my first job every morning is to assist the PR team by searching for client coverage. This responsibility keeps me in touch with what projects the teams are working on, while helping them get a task done quickly and efficiently. I am always on the lookout for awards submissions relevant to clients or trends in news topics to see if a client could contribute. Having these tasks, aside from giving me something to do, make me feel apart of the team and benefit the other employees so they can focus on important deadlines.  

I have always been the one to say, “I wouldn’t mind if I made photocopies all day because I believe just being in a company’s environment can teach you a lot,” but if you have an intern why not use them to their best ability? It may mean taking a few extra minutes to explain something or taking more of a chance on a project, but as long as the expectations and responsibilities are clear, interns have a lot of potential in and out of the social media world. The Castle Group has found a balance with me and I feel confident with my responsibilities.

Do your interns feel the same way?

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