What if interns ran the world? Well in Washington, they kind of do. Everywhere from Capitol Hill to the White House to every non-profit, think tank and political action committee in town, you’ll find ambitious college students working behind-the-scenes to help our leadership thrive.
I was once one of these ambitious young students (as you may remember from last week) and I have to say, interning in Washington was an incredible way to start my career. Your first introduction to the professional world leaves a lasting impression, so naturally few experiences have influenced me more than my time working at the White House for the First Lady’s Chief of Staff.
The way Hillary Clinton led her team was totally inspiring. She was the first First Lady to have an office in the West Wing, along with staff offices in the old executive office building (where I worked). You would think that in such a high-stakes environment there would be tension, gossip and drama—but not in Mrs. Clinton’s office.
The women who worked there were so supportive of each other and always treated me with total respect. To this day I still seek to emulate their leadership style.
Because my time as an intern was so positive, one of the first things I did as a new entrepreneur was post internship opportunities at the local college. I didn’t have money to hire any full time salaries yet, but I knew I had training and experience to offer. My friends found it funny to see me at my dining table surrounded by college students, but I couldn’t have grown my business without them!
Even now that I’ve moved beyond my kitchen table and have a salaried team, I find that recruiting and training young talent is a highly effective way to keep growing. At Divine Living we’ve established relationships with several local universities and are attracting some of the best talent in the Santa Barbara area—and we have them do much more than get coffee.
Giving an intern substantive work allows you (and often them!) to discover their zone of genius and find out how they can best contribute to your company. You may be surprised by just how much a college student has to offer. We’ve had interns create sales pages, support marketing campaigns and assist at live events. And some of our interns have even been offered full time positions after graduation, which is a total win-win.
There is so much young people can learn from us, but there’s also a lot we can learn from them. Think about someone like Karl Lagerfeld, who’s stayed relevant for decades. He’s constantly surrounded by fresh faces that keep a youthful, hip energy around him and his business. It goes to show that interns not only help get work done, they help you stay current.
As my own journey shows, I think women entrepreneurs at every level can benefit from hiring an intern (or five). Mentorship comes naturally to women like us in the worlds of coaching and personal development and that’s ultimately what an internship is all about. If you’re ready to begin creating a high-impact internship program for your business, check out my tips below—and do not forget download our recruitment and training cheat sheets!
Start a High-Impact
|1||Select a Leader|
Whether it’s you or someone on your team, it’s important to choose one person to manage the interns. The internship coordinator will be chiefly responsible for handling the items on this list, from creating the job description to dealing with hiring and signing university paperwork.
|2||Create a Meaningful Opportunity|
Work with your coordinator to outline the goals of the internship program and design the experience. Write down what interns will be responsible for, what they’ll learn and how the job will benefit them. Make sure you’re allowing for substantive projects that will have impact for everyone involved.
|3||Attract the Ideal Intern|
Now that you’ve outlined the internship program and know who you’re looking for, create an ad that communicates your company’s brand and mission along with the details of the job description. (You can download Divine Living’s internship postings for reference below!)
|4||Vet Your Candidates|
At Divine Living, first we give prospective candidates a small assignment to make sure they can follow instructions. We also confirm that they’ll actually be available in the hours needed. Finally, we invite them in for an interview to see if their personality is a good fit before officially bringing them on. Upon hiring, we always set a consistent schedule and clear expectations.
|5||Onboard On Purpose|
Before an intern dives into any project, they need to get to know your brand really well. We give our interns a welcome packet with a DL journal, our core values, videos to watch and articles to read, plus all of the information they’ll need to get started—like how to create their email address, where to park and where to eat lunch. (Download our welcome PDF for reference below!)