What are an employers expectations and objectives when they hire an intern? Titanium Tutors, created a digital marketing opportunity last summer and here, the company’s founding director Joe Hytner, shares his experience.
We were already planning on expanding our digital marketing activities over the course of the upcoming summer, but the amount of time we would have been able to dedicate to that with our existing staff would have been insufficient to make a real difference. It was obvious that a full-timer dedicated exclusively to our marketing project and working closely with the core team in our London office would be the best solution.
We received a large volume of applications from prospective Warwick interns, and shortlisted 15 for phone interviews. Of those, 4 were invited for a face-to-face interview comprising various digital marketing activities. This gave us a great insight into the personalities of the candidates and their natural aptitude for marketing. We were blown away by the calibre of the students and found it very difficult to narrow them down to a single successful candidate. Consequently we ended up offering some freelance marketing work to two of the candidates who made it through to the final round in addition to accepting an intern. This is not something which we had planned to do, but upon seeing the quality of the interviewees and the fantastic marketing ideas they could bring to Titanium Tutors it made sense to open up these additional roles.
With only six weeks it was clear that the internship needed to be clearly defined and that the training would need to be fast and efficient. We designed a programme for our intern Oscar which catered for that challenge. I was also conscious that the internship is a two-way process and I wanted Oscar to have input into shaping his time with us.
We settled on a single clear objective that would be achievable in the short amount of time available, namely to improve Titanium Tutors’ presence in search engines. Because Oscar was also interested in a range of related digital marketing activities such as social media and blogging, we were able to incorporate those to support that wider goal. It was a bonus that he was a keen advocate of Green issues, as we had recently undertaken a sustainability drive. Oscar single-handedly launched our new TT Green Twitter page as well as writing some punchy Green articles for our blog, all in addition to his core role.
I can truly say that my expectations for the internship were greatly exceeded and the person who was ultimately responsible for the internship’s success was the intern himself. He worked tirelessly. His passion and enthusiasm shined through and helped us to achieve results far beyond what we thought would be possible in 6 weeks. The greatest sign of success from my perspective was my end-of-internship review with Oscar, which was supposed to last 30 minutes, but ended up lasting 4 hours (don’t worry, we did of course take a break!).
We tried to be concise but the amount that Oscar had learned on the internship and wanted to feed back to us (and vice versa) was immense. In 6 weeks he had imbibed a little bit of learning from us, combined that with a lot of independent learning and extra reading undertaken voluntarily, and used that to create a digital marketing strategy for Titanium Tutors that can be used and built upon for months and years to come. If that’s not two-way value, I don’t know what is!
My 4 top tips if you are a student considering an internship…
- Think hard about what you want out of the internship (in advance and in the first few days), and about how you can combine that with your employer’s goals to achieve a result that benefits both of you.
- The competition can be fierce so don’t over-commit yourself to too many applications — instead focus on a smaller number of applications so they can be better quality and more tailored. One of the reasons Oscar impressed us in the application process is that he had clearly done lots of research into the company and had genuinely thought hard about how he personally could be of benefit to us: that takes time.
- Be aware that whilst you can expect some level of training and support from your employer, realistically some things you will have to learn on the job, so be prepared to get stuck in, and be proactive about offering to do independent work or self-training: that will accelerate your progress ten-fold and will leave a great impression with the host organisation.
- Finally, be sure to request an internship review at the end of the process: it’s a great way to consolidate what you’ve learned from the experience and get some feedback from the host organisation that you can use in your future career. Your feedback about the project will be helpful for your employer too!