By Mary Somyak & Lizzie McAdams
Most internship programs last an entire summer or semester. During this time students have 3-4 months to learn the lay of the land, acquire new skills, and impress their short-term employers. Perhaps an internship could last a shorter length of time, but typically they stretch a month or more.
At SOCIALDEVIANT, we tend to stray from the norm. Instead of a long-term approach, we accept interns for a five-day summer Immersion Program. What’s more, this year, three of our four interns were in high school. We know, mind blown.
If you’re in the skeptical camp, we get it. When we were tasked with organizing and implementing our Immersion Program, we initially thought, “What can our interns possibly achieve after only one week, especially as young students? What value could we as a company possible get out of this?”
Turns out, quite a lot, actually. It took about a minute after meeting our interns for us to know we were going to have a good — no, a great — week. In fact, the week exceeded all DEVIANT expectations and then some.
Let’s see if we can change your mind about a week-long immersion program. Our goal is for you to think what we at SOCIALDEVIANT think when we write “Intern Immersion Program”: that’s awesome! Let’s do it again!
The Internship Immersion Program’s objective is twofold: it is a mutually beneficial week for interns and DEVIANTS. The interns learn from DEVIANTs one-on-one, attend meetings, learn DEVIANT approaches to strategy and POVs, complete tasks including an individual project and a group project that will impact DEVIANT work, and receive valuable mentorship from Founder & CEO Marc Landsberg.
Hopefully you noticed something missing from our objective, something that many internships include: grunt work. We did not task our interns with fetching coffee, fixing the printer, or filing papers. We aimed to immerse them in our daily DEVIANT lives, which definitely does not include menial tasks.
The interns have two co-managers who developed a detailed schedule for the week, down to the minute, to ensure that their plate is full and that their hands are never idle. The calendar shifts as DEVIANT schedules shift, and the interns stay flexible to meet any needs.
Each client team met with the intern group to provide overviews of client deliverables. In addition, each DEVIANT met with the interns to share work we have completed for clients, such as POVs we have written, creative we have launched in market or strategy presentations we have delivered. From Analytics to Operations, the interns absorbed a wide range of DEVIANT work on a personal level.
Each intern was assigned to a team and attended status meetings, brainstorms and any other meetings that arose during the week. If there was a need, the intern was at the ready to assist. From the moment they arrived, our interns were part of the team.
While we wanted the interns to learn, we definitely had work for them to do. And, since we believe that ideas come from everywhere, we truly wanted their POV, too! We tasked our group with three big items:
- The DEVIANT interns captured notes during a lunch & learn when Twitter came to our office. They also prepared thoughtful questions to ask the reps and sent a recap with takeaways. DEVIANTs have referred back to this document as a resource.
- Each intern wrote posts for our blog on examples of brands capitalizing on live-stream capabilities, how simplicity drives success on Snapchat, impressive Instagram executions, and tips for marketers in an ad-free era.
- The four ladies compiled an excellent presentation on Omnichannel Marketing that spurred thoughtful discussion among the DEVIANTs and interns. By the end of Friday, we were thoroughly impressed in all that they accomplished in those short five days.
After five days with our four interns, everyone in the SOCIALDEVIANT office learned a few things. [And hopefully our interns learned more than a few!]
If you’re interested in hosting an immersion program of your own, here are a few key learnings to guide you along the way:
- Ideas come from everywhere, and age is just a number. The four young women who graced our office were wise beyond their years and we benefited from their thoughtful points of view.
- A lot can be accomplished in a short amount of time. Our interns were efficient, asked smart questions when they needed to, and got to work. We checked in every morning and from time to time throughout the day to ensure they were on task, but they were largely independent.
- Have a schedule, but be flexible. Be planful and invite the interns to as many meetings as possible. Ours were insatiably curious about everything we do and asked smart questions, so we enjoyed having them in the room!
- Share, share, share. The beauty of internships for students is learning what they like and what they don’t, so that when they go into the workforce, they have a sense of what they want to do with their lives. So, we made it our goal to give the interns a very real taste of what it’s like to work at an agency.
So what do you think? Is an Immersion Program something that you would incorporate at your company? We hope that our guide will shift your mindset that a lot can be accomplished in a week, and that interns don’t have to fit a certain age or fill certain roles. All of the DEVIANTs have stories of boring tasks during internships. No way. Not here. We put them to work. And we loved the result.