How To Make Your Office Intern Friendly (from 'the intern')

June 18, 2009

My friends are all over the world this summer. A few decided to travel abroad in places like Spain, Belgium, and even Uganda. Others, like me, decided to spend the summer attempting to accomplish the daunting task of being an intern. After being at New Media Campaigns for a little over a month though, I can honestly say the only thing daunting about my job was deciding to tackle the dark abyss that is my boss' office and organize it so that it passes health regulations. Ask anyone outside of my job what I think about it and they will tell you I love it

Never having an internship before, I figured this is how office life is supposed to be - fun and relaxed, yet still focused on the work. After catching up with a few of my other intern friends this weekend though I found out I was in the small minority that could say they loved what they were doing this summer. Which got me to thinking, what makes interning at New Media so great? And why are other companies, even those in the same field of work, turning out unhappy interns? So after chatting with a few friends, I've pointed out three points that make an office "intern-friendly".

There may be some companies out there that are asking "Why would I care to make my office intern-friendly? That's like asking my copy machine if it's happy with the settings I programmed for it." Intern-friendly offices are usually friendly toward every employee, so most likely, not only will you produce happy and excited interns, but happy employees too, and when employees are happy, productivity goes up. So off we go, into the wonderful world of intern points of wisdom.

1. Interns are more than an office supply

Contrary to what some may believe, interns have feelings, and can actually think for themselves. I found out one of my (wholly competent) friends still spends the majority of his workday making copies, sending faxes, making coffee, and groveling. Okay, so maybe he isn't groveling, but he is trying to get more involved, but his boss keeps promising new tasks that "keep falling through". As interns, we completely understand that if there is a small task to accomplish such as faxing a contract agreement, we can do that, but please, have us do something that makes us feel like we are putting our college educations to use.

Not even a week into my internship at New Media, I was assigned to write the case studies for each website going into our new portfolio. After reading the first few I wrote, the guys sent me on my way to finish the rest after outlining key points to cover. Not only do I feel like I'm doing something worthwhile, but I know it's appreciated. Telling interns they're doing a good job may seem like an obvious thing to do, but surprisingly, some supervisors don't say a word, making interns wonder why they're doing the work in the first place. I'm not saying you need to be a cheerleader for your intern, but just acknowledging we're doing work goes a long way.   

2. Give me an E! Give me an N! Give me a THUSIASM!

So you don't have to channel the SNL Spartan Cheerleaders, but knowing and showing that you love your job, sends good vibes throughout the office and wherever you go. That's what made me apply to be an intern at New Media Campaigns in the first place. Clay Schossow, a partner at New Media Campaigns, made a presentation in one of my journalism classes at UNC on Social Media trends, and captured the attention of the entire class. Not only did he really know what he was talking about, but you could tell he was excited to be talking about it.

In the past week, New Media has launched six awesome websites. Towards the end of that week you would think the office would be burnt out or cranky, when in all actuality, we were pumped. Maybe it was the constant Java-trip or the good tunes cranking out of the speakers, but either way, there were no hostile situations or threats of a fax machine brawl. At New Media we get excited about sharing new ideas, finding articles on the web, and even the release of new technology. So when people ask me about my job, they can tell I'm excited to be there.

3. Last time I checked, interns aren't an infectious disease

So include them! One thing I love about New Media is that I'm included in the conversation. I've worked at other places where, just because I'm the newbie, my opinion doesn't really matter that much. But here I know that (at least most of the time) the guys are listening when I say something. We joke around with each other, listen to the College World Series, and usually grab lunch as a group. Simple things like these make the office atmosphere less stressful and make me look forward to coming into work.

Not only are they friendly, but the guys are also really helpful. I'm new to web development and management, so I have a lot of questions, which I can count on to be answered. Whether it's sending me an article to help me with case studies, or showing me how our content management system works, the guys take time to make sure I understand tasks and encourage me to explore different parts of the company to really gain useful experience.

It's a short list, but doing these things really does make the office atmosphere better, and makes interns like me really excited to be working for such an awesome company. In the past month I've made coffee, faxed a few papers, and even voluntarily organized my boss' office, but I've also written over fifty-three case studies on exciting projects, added content to important websites, and worked on screenshots for our soon-to-be-launched new website.

When it comes to companies that work closely with their clients and other agencies, making sure people are happy and content is paramount to each project's success. But knowing that the people who work in your office are just as, if not happier, than the clients you work for, makes each work day something to look forward to. 

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