I am currently a senior in college, and for the better part of the past 18 months I have either been an intern or been actively looking to become an intern. Finally, I understand why internships are a cornerstone of collegiate education. Colleges outsource education for an experiential learning opportunity that is unlike any lecture or group project administered in a classroom. Maybe you are a hopeful student not knowing what to expect during your first internship, or perhaps you are prospective employer considering bringing some fresh new talent into your company. Either way, I can say with full certainty that my internship with Tipping Point Communications has taught me so much about what an internship should look like for both the intern and the employer.
During my internship at Tipping Point, I worked with an amazing Internship Coordinator. She was approachable, an expert in my field of interest, and my first point of contact. She did an amazing job of introducing the interns to the company, facilitated work allocation, and was available outside of our weekly one-on-one meetings. She made sure I knew that my opinion was wanted and valuable in every interaction, meeting, and project.
Tips for the Employer: Make sure your intern has a consistent point of contact; someone they can talk to about their work, workplace experiences and anything else they might need. This is the time to make your intern feel like a welcome part of the team. It is helpful if that person is an expert in you intern's related field of study or has a lot of connections within the company.
Tips for the Intern: Utilize your supervisors to the fullest. Make sure you check in with someone on a weekly, if not daily basis. Talk about how you are liking (or perhaps, disliking) the work and time spent at the company. Have an open relationship where you feel free to talk about the highs and the lows of your experience. And, remember to get to know everyone. What you know is equally as important as who you know – so build a relationship!
As a Marketing and Public Relations intern, I sought out opportunities that aligned with my career goals. However, I am so grateful for all the experiences that took me out of my comfort zone—from conducting research, to planning an event hundreds of miles away. I have learned that being an intern is all about flexibility and learning everything and anything you can.
Tips for the Employer: No intern wants to be a Starbucks delivery person or the “copy expert” for the office. On the other hand, keep in mind that tasks that seem simple may be new and educational for your intern. For more complicated projects, allow interns to work with or shadow employees that can communicate the process along the way.
Tips for the Intern: No matter what kind of internship you are looking for, you are going to be expected to leave your comfort zone. The odd jobs that pop up in your inbox are chances for you to explore your passions, or perhaps to discover what it is you aren't passionate about. After all, the purpose of an internship is to solidify your major/career choice.
Although I am still a student, I am preparing to enter the work force within the next few months. My experience with Tipping Point Communications was an amazing opportunity to learn about company culture. From the beginning, there was a clear reason behind the company policies and structure. This type of transparency allowed me to reflect on the type of company culture I hope to find when I seek full-time employment. Not every employee is right for every company and vice versa. The duration of my internship provided the perfect place to learn what kind of company culture I hope to find when committing to a full-time job.
Tips for the Employer: Just like any new employee, an intern is not only new to the office, but new to the culture. So, make sure you explain what is expected at work. Anything from what to wear, to where to eat. No intern wants to feel un-welcomed, so invite your interns out to lunch, to meetings or events.
Tips for the Intern: Going into a new workplace can feel like venturing into a foreign land. The rules can be confusing, and the strange faces can be overwhelming. Not to mention the fact that every workplace is different – so be sure to ask questions along the way. Learn both what is done in the office, and why.
Overall, my internship with Tipping Point Communications has been an incredible learning opportunity. The real-world projects and experience has allowed me to narrow my focus and career goals. At Tipping Point, interns are given independence in a collaborative work environment, and I am so grateful for the experience and mentorship I received from the team.
- Josh DeBell, University at Buffalo '19