Whether you’re a small business just starting to get your feet wet in marketing or you have a full-fledged marketing and creative department, you can benefit from adding a motivated marketing intern to your team. Marketing interns can help your team tackle a wide range of entry-level tasks that might otherwise bog down more experienced team members. At the same time, it’s important to create a mutually beneficial internship to ensure your marketing interns feel valued and challenged, rather than feeling like unappreciated and low paid help.
Recruiting quality marketing interns isn’t as simple as hiring a college student to tackle the tasks your team doesn’t want to do. Your marketing interns should be a valuable asset to your team; just as importantly, the experience you provide them should be educational and valuable to their career development.
Below we’re outlining everything you need to know about building a marketing internship program that will be mutually beneficial to your team and your new interns.
Marketing Intern Duties and Responsibilities
Hiring a marketing intern can give your team support in a wide array of duties and functions, based on their specific education and experience. In most cases, a marketing intern can help with tasks in a few core areas:
- Administrative tasks, such as answering phones and emails, data entry, and preparing materials for presentations and pitches.
- Research tasks, such as competitive analysis, stakeholder interviews, market research, and facilitating focus groups.
- Communication tasks, such as internal and external communication, social media community management, and attending trade shows and events.
- In some cases, creative tasks, such as graphic design, content writing, and photography or videography, can be taken on if an intern’s education or major qualifies them.
Your marketing intern duties and responsibilities should be clearly outlined in the job description you post, and discussed throughout the hiring process with your internship candidates.
Over the course of the internship period, resist the urge to give your intern too much responsibility or too many tasks, no matter how capable they may seem. Keep in mind when hiring a marketing intern that they will only be there for a set amount of time, typically a single semester, and that their projects and duties will need to be transitioned to another member of your team or a new intern once the internship period ends.
Hiring a Marketing Intern: Paid vs. Unpaid Internships
When making the decision to hire a marketing intern, be sure to keep in mind that an intern isn’t a source of free labor for menial tasks. In most cases, you’ll be legally required to pay your interns at least minimum wage, and they’re entitled to the same protections as any other employee.
If you want to offer an unpaid internship, there are specific rules about the types of work an unpaid intern can and cannot perform:
- The internship is similar to training which would be given in an educational environment
- The experience is for the benefit of the intern
- The intern does not displace regular employees but rather works under the supervision of existing staff in related roles
- The employer providing the training derives no immediate advantage from the activities of the intern and on occasion its operations may actually be impeded
- There is no guarantee of a job at the conclusion of the internship
- Both parties understand that the intern is not getting paid for the internship, but may receive educational credit
Because of these legal protections for unpaid interns, a paid internship is often a better option for both the employer and the intern—you, as the employer, get the help of an additional hand on your team to take on work, and the intern has the opportunity for paid on-the-job training and valuable experience in their field of choice.
Key Takeaways from Marketing Internship
When hiring a marketing intern, you should outline your job description just like you would for any other employee. Your intern isn’t meant to be catch-all support for your team. Designate what specific duties they’ll be tasked with, and what they should plan to take away as their main takeaways from a marketing internship. For instance, a marketing intern with a specialty in creative and graphic design might want to expand their repertoire to include strategy, marketing automation and account management.
Your interns, especially paid interns, should be able to take on project duties and help create value for your marketing initiatives. Your interns should expect not only to learn marketing tactics and support, but should be willing to try a bit of everything. For many students, an internship is also their first professional experience, so they should be prepared to operate with professional conduct and appropriate office demeanor.
In addition to leaving with new industry skills, interests and knowledge, your interns should also become your biggest advocates. If they’re students, they will likely be able to recommend your program to other potential interns and share their positive experience with your company with others when they return to campus.
Marketing interns can also bring new, fresh ideas to your team based on current marketing practices or from their coursework, so be sure to treat them with respect and chat regularly about what they’re learning in class and whether or not it can be applied to your business. In this way, you’ll have created not only a mutually beneficial internship, but a true win/win situation.