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Using Interns for More than Just Making Copies and Fetching Coffee


Nelli Balkarova, a Marketing Assistant for The Henker Group, an integrated marketing communications agency in Easton, Maryland. As Spring Semester marks the time that students start to apply for and secure their summer internships, we asked Nelli to write about her experience as a past intern for The Henker Group from a standpoint of how a company can provide the best learning experience for an intern. Nelli's summer internship experience provided a strong base for her in which she has since been promoted as the agency’s Marketing Assistant, a position that she fills part-time while attending Salisbury University as a full-time student. She provides valuable insight for senior staff and small business owners to consider when recruiting and planning work for the “dues paying position”of – the summer intern.

Imagine your stereotypical summer intern. She is probably returning from her second office Starbucks run of the day to package a stack of crisp, white envelopes. Later, she will make some copies and alphabetize a plethora of files. By the end of the summer, she will have learned little more than what a breve latte is.

Now, erase that image from your mind and imagine your gold-star intern. She is distinctive, completes tasks on time, and she is eager to take on more responsibility than she is given. She is diligent, passionate and enthusiastic. When she comes to you with a problem, she also proposes a solution. Most importantly, she is committed and dedicated to learning.

That’s the kind of intern you hope to hire.

As I approach my third year with The Henker Group, I reflect on my days of interning with the company. I started as a Marketing and International Business intern in June of 2016, the summer before my junior year of college. I expected no more from my internship than making daily coffee runs, mastering my copying skills, and working beyond the agreed hours. Ten weeks later, I finished my internship and acquired a marketing skill set which would later set me apart from the rest of my class .

As I started my internship, I was excited, enthusiastic and confident—but since I did not know the ropes of the marketing industry yet, I relied on the skills I already had. Even before I started focusing on Digital Marketing, I have taken a few Marketing courses at Salisbury University, which had taught me about SWOT analysis, brand positioning, pricing strategies, etc. In addition, I had something many in the generations above me did not: extensive knowledge of social media. Like most college students, I was (and still am) a social media fiend.

So I provided social media recommendations and ideas. Assisted the team leader in collection of social media analytics and Google Analytics. Most importantly, I learned. I learned how to develop and implement a monthly e-marketing campaign, complete and update search engine optimization (SEO) reports, and write blogs for a non-profit client. Beyond the daily tasks my job entailed, I learned how a high-level company is run, and I learned the style and strengths of the business.

Interning with The Henker Group was the best decision I have ever made—not only interning, but making the best of my internship by grabbing responsibility by the horns and running with it.

What’s the moral of my story? Interns can be valuable assets to your business if you hire the right ones. Sure, it is great to have someone pick up coffee and make copies, but do not underestimate the ways in which interns can enhance your business. Since the 20-somethings of the world are constantly exposed to social media, for example, they may be able to offer new insight and a fresh perspective on things. I grew and progressed in my internship because I was given the opportunity.

My boss made me feel valuable, constantly asking for my input and allowing me to work on high-level projects. I was not simply told what to do; I was involved in the decision-making process and important discussions. My advice to business owners is to open the door to your interns so they can gain insight on how your company is run. Give them the opportunity to grow with your business, and you just might be pleasantly surprised by the results.

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