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Getting the Most Out of the Internship Experience

Through this blog post series, I will be discussing what I am learning as a marketing intern at an Austin tech startup and what a company can do to utilize an intern’s time and talents to the fullest extent.


Hey new friend. If you’re reading this, it’s probably because you’re interested in being an intern at a startup company, or, you’re a startup interested in hiring one. Either way, you are on the right track, pal! As you know, internships provide the company with a super rad and ambitious potential hire while providing the intern with real world experience, networking opportunities, and the chance to use the tools they’ve only read about.

To get started, I am the marketing intern for LanternCRM this summer. As a marketing and international business student, I am eager to get out of the classroom and have an impact on projects that will affect an actual business. Being incredibly interested in the entrepreneurial startup scene of Austin, I was looking for a small tech company to assist with its marketing projects.

Now, being a part of one and having had multiple internships in the past, here are some tips for the companies looking to hire interns and what interns can focus on during their experiences:

Hire For Potential
Working at a CRM company, I should have an incredibly concrete grasp of what a CRM is, right? Not really… Like many other marketing students out there, I learned about CRM in theory but was never even shown an actual CRM (c’mon university education system). In my first week I’ve learned a class’s worth of information about CRMs in general, and of course, about LanternCRM. I have also been diving into the marketing tools the company uses to keep track of media metrics, application interactions, and SEO endeavors. Learning about all these resources in the first week has made me excited for the coming months in which I will be mastering these tools, adding to my marketing knowledge, and assisting Lantern’s reach to new customers.

Companies aren’t hiring interns to be experts in the field. They are hiring them for their eagerness to learn and their willingness to contribute their own creativity to the company. Be able to recognize this motivation in interviews, exemplified by enthusiasm and knowledge of the company (that’s a biggie), and through resumes and cover letters: what have they done in the past to show that they’re interested in learning outside the classroom (interns, get on this)?

Give ‘Em Some Rein
Now that the company has hired trustworthy, responsible, ambitious interns, they should show them that they see them as an actual employee by giving them some leeway with projects. For example, Lantern started with a large project for me to work on: assisting with this blog.  I have been making a calendar for scheduled posts and creating post categories that will be rotated through the coming weeks to shake up the content a bit. Work up to something that the intern can own for the period she/he is with the company.

As with the whole internship experience, both parties gain from giving interns more freedom. The business gets someone with a fresh perspective working on the projects in which others may not have the time for or has been stuck. Interns get a genuine taste of what it’s like to work in their field while adding projects to their portfolios.

Let Them Explore Outside These Walls
I am the marketing intern. I am focused on marketing for Lantern, but I am also interested in web design and learning to code. Being a tech company, we have people that are pretty familiar with those things, so I have been learning about web development and coding while everyone at Lantern has been very supportive of that.  Interns are there to assist the company in the field they were hired, but remember that this is a learning experience for them, too.

Hopefully, interns do want to learn about other aspects of the companies in which they work. Getting out of the classroom and into actual businesses can be incredibly intimidating, but it is a great sign to see that sort of ambition in an intern. Fostering that curiosity will encourage interns to continue their outstanding contribution to the company.

Interns are there to help a business as much as the business is there to help them. They do not have to come in knowing everything about the product or the industry. Hiring should be based on the drive to learn and interest in the company. Once an intern is hired, meaningful projects should be put in her/his hands. A fresh perspective will be given to those projects and to the company as a whole. Great interns will be interested in other aspects of the company and seeking knowledge in other departments. From the intern’s perspective, make sure the company can provide these opportunities, and as a company, make sure to offer these to interns as it will provide both parties with an exceptional and beneficial experience.


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