Building A Successful Internship Program as an Event Professional
As your company grows and takes on more business, you may find that it’s time to start expanding. However, taking on full-time or even part-time employees can be a major financial and logistical consideration. If you’re not quite ready for the plunge, consider developing an internship program to boost the help around the office without the long-term commitment.
Although it does take some work to put an internship program into place, the benefits of having interns greatly outweighs the effort. Not only can you delegate smaller tasks to open your schedule up to bigger things, but you’ll also have the opportunity to mentor future event professionals and pull in new perspectives from them.
Plus, when you are ready to take on permanent employees, you’ll already have a candidate pool to pick from.
As for the development of your internship program, the details really come down to what kind of responsibilities you’d like to delegate. Review the Department of Labor’s guidelines for internship programs and write-up a job description that covers the specific tasks that you need help with. It’s important to be explicit from the get-go, as many new professionals get overly excited to work in the “glamorous” events industry and you don’t want to mislead them if all they’ll be doing is organizing client data and managing the blog.
With the job description in hand, create a list of qualities required for an intern to be successful in your company. When evaluating applicants, we look for self-motivation, a willingness to fail, and a friendly and outgoing personality. Your ideal characteristics will surely differ, but it’s these standards that will guide your final hiring decision.
From there, it’s time to get the word out! We’ve found that local universities are the best starting point – students are often looking for internships to prepare themselves for the “real world” while still in school and they can be for academic credit instead of for pay. You’ll also want to send along your announcement to industry peers that you trust as they may have ideas or referrals to send your way.
Once you start the interview process, expect it to take time out of your daily routine so plan your schedule accordingly. For each interview, start by laying out all job responsibilities as well as expectations and boundaries for the position. Discuss the potential schedule and answer any questions that the applicant may have. Avoid making your decision before all of the candidates have been interviewed – it’s only fair that each one gets a chance to present themselves.
When interviews are wrapped up, chances are you have a good idea of who’s the best fit and meets your company’s values best – those are the ones to call back!
Throughout the onboarding process, be present and get to know your interns, both personally and professionally. Even though they’re temporary, they’re still a part of your team. Leverage their strengths and guide them through their weaknesses – that is a sign of a great leader.
Check in with them throughout the internship and provide constructive feedback on their work so they can improve their skills not only for you, but for future endeavors as well.
As your interns wrap up their time with your company, conduct an exit interview to gauge their thoughts on the experience. Did they enjoy their time? Did they learn anything new?
How would they have chanced the internship for the better? Would they do it again if they had the chance? In addition to showing the interns that you’re engaged, this also provides you with ideas on how to improve your internship program for the future.
With the right tools and commitment, you can put together an internship program rather quickly. Once you do, be prepared to have more time to focus on what you’re passionate about – events!
Jennifer Taylor is the owner of Taylor’d Events Group, a planning firm that specializes in celebrations of all kinds in the Pacific Northwest and Maui. She is also the creator of The Taylor’d Plan, a self-administered class for wedding planners who are new to the industry and looking to grow and develop their skills.