Leadership at Every (Intern) Level

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higher education marketing, higher ed marketing internships, intern programConverge recently launched its inaugural Internship program. This full-time, 65-day paid internship gives a group of college students hands-on digital marketing experience, expanding their professional skills and enhancing their resumes.

Throughout the summer, the five interns will be immersed in four weeks of intensive classroom training. Experts from across our organization will spend time teaching them about Google Analytics, digital advertising, content strategy, social media and website redesign.

During weeks four through eight, each intern will work within a specialty area on specific projects, allowing them to learn by doing. Our team is excited to see the perspective the interns bring while immersing themselves in the Converge culture.

Since the announcement of the program, I have been excited to share the lessons and wisdom provided by mentors throughout my career. Initially, I thought that these dynamic college students would take my advice and, with a little guidance, transform into the successful business women and men of tomorrow.

However, a funny thing happened during our initial interactions. As I dispensed my knowledge and experience, the interns responded with their own interpretations and experiences, offering their individual perspectives. They taught me something!

Here are the three pieces of advice I shared with them:

1. Make each customer (both internal and external) feel like your only customer.

As long as you help your clients exceed their results, they’re never going to know you’ve got a million and one other things on your plate. To do this effectively, you have to know what a client wants before they know what they want. This is a skill that takes time to cultivate, but listening and researching helps immensely.

To stand out from your competitors, you have to understand a client’s needs better than everybody else. You have a commitment to do what you say you’re going to do, when you say you are going to do it.

Building trust is the best way to retain your clients and ensure they will be happy with your work. Once the trust is built, work diligently to maintain it. Trust is an essential component of business.

2. Don’t be afraid to ask questions.

Many interns are afraid to ask questions during their first internship. Maybe it’s the fear of asking too many questions or asking the wrong questions.

Whatever the cause, it’s important to overcome. The main purpose of an internship is to learn, grow and gain real-world, professional experience (making money is nice, too). When questions go unanswered, learning is more difficult.

Ask questions whenever they arise. Who wants to make a mistake that could have been prevented by asking for help or advice? If you’re unsure, speak up. In the end, you’ll be happy you did.

3. Be cool and confident.

Even under pressure, you always have to be the duck. Be the duck? Yes. Be the duck. On the surface, you are calm and collected, but underwater, you are paddling wildly to keep moving forward.

Attitude is contagious, and if a teammate sees that you are complaining, they will complain. This is especially true if you are in a leadership position. It’s difficult to exceed a client’s expectations if you don’t check your emotions.

Let your positive attitude influence your colleague’s and client’s moods. More often than not, demeanor can make the difference.

higher education marketing, higher ed consultants, higher ed marketing internship
Josh Irons and Converge Interns

Things I Learned

So, what did I learn? While articulating these three points and seeing how the interns responded to them, it reminded me that these lessons are important, not just for interns, but for me and our entire team to revisit.

When you move at a fast pace, it can be challenging to take a step back and remember how important these principles really are. Engaging with the interns served as a reminder to practice what we preach every day.

As our interns enter the specialty phases of the program, we are already learning from them – they view our questions and assignments through a different lens. Approaching a project with no prior knowledge allows them to be more creative and open-minded than someone who has been working through the same process on multiple projects. I look forward to their insights – and I’m taking good notes.

Set your interns up for success by listening and letting them be creative. Who knows? They might teach you a thing or two!