#AspireAndInspire: Keeping Up With My Former Interns
I use the hashtag #AspireAndInspire (I might have even coined it) because I believe that we should give back; not only after we’ve “made it” but while we’re taking on the pursuit of happiness, success, or whatever our pursuit may be. I do this by organizing internship programs for college students. I tend to focus on two fields: Marketing (grassroots marketing, social media marketing, PR, event planning, experiential marketing/tours, and promotions) and Music Business (artist support team, music copyright law, music contracts, royalties and publishing, and music commerce & business models).
I launched my first official internship program in 2009 as the head of marketing & music at Shiekh Shoes (although I would say that it may have begun in 2006 when I organized street teams for nightlife marketing and events and rented meeting rooms to teach concepts in that particular field).
My slogan for my internships has remained “This is not a photo copy and coffee internship program!” My interns work…and they work hard. But I do not believe in “busy work”. You know, the kind of mindless tasks that interns are given that have no real big picture?
My internship programs are part hands-on experience and part lecture. I lecture once or twice a week and often provide a syllabus for the session. My interns learn industry terms and jargon, concepts and theory and apply what they’ve learned in my lectures directly to the work they’re doing that week. Sometimes I make them take notes and email those notes to me to make sure they are capturing what I’m teaching.
They are forced to make important decisions that have real world reward and consequences. They participate in meetings with third-party business colleagues and clients and sometimes they travel out of town (they tend to like the travelling). By the end of the session (usually one college quarter), most of my interns feel they’ve learned a great deal of information and many ask to do another session (I’ve had about 5 interns complete 2 or more sessions). I’ve been told a few times that they’ve learned more in my session than they’ve learned in a comparable class in college. I’m flattered!
Over the last 5 years I’ve had the pleasure of training over 2 dozen college interns who’ve since gone on to start careers in the workforce after graduating with Bachelor degrees (most of them studied International Marketing, Business, and Communications…and recently I’ve had Music Business majors). They work at tech firms such as Google and the corporate offices of retail chains such as Target. The music majors are leaning towards production or music business as a music company (record label or publisher).
Several of my former interns are now hiring their own interns and have reached out to me for advice. I’ve visited and spoke to current interns of an internship program I had started several years ago, which is now run by my former intern who I had hired full-time at the same company (after he dominated 3 back-to-back internship sessions over the course of a year).
Yesterday, I had lunch with one of my most recent former interns who reached out to me to offer him advice and guidance in his new marketing role with a social media tech start-up based out of Miami. He participated in my Music Business & Marketing internship program at ChazBo Music:
It’s Brandon! I was an intern for you at ChazBo Music in the Fall. I’m emailing you because when I look back at my time at ChazBo Music I really learned a lot from you, as you were a great teacher. I’m now coming up with a great new idea for a startup [he goes on to include details that I’ve omitted]. I’ve been wondering where do I start? How do I go about it? And the first person I thought of was you. I really wanted to see if you had any ideas, pointers, or if you could help me layout a plan of implementation. You were a great teacher to me, I learned a lot, and I’m sure if you could give me any advice about this it would help me a lot, I would really appreciate it. I would love if we could discuss your ideas over the phone, or maybe I could stop by the office.
Hope all is well,
Another one of my stellar former interns who completed my Marketing, Social Media & Events in Retail Industry internship program at Shiekh Shoes has gone on to land a solid job in the workforce:
I just wanted to take the time to say thank you. The short amount of time I spent with you at Shiekh Shoes as an intern, taught me much in business, marketing and event plannning.
At my current job I was asked to plan/execute the company holiday party for all of our clients, sales execs, and upper management with about 200+ guests and the greatest reward was having the president of the company tell me that he was very pleased with everything and also stated that it was much better than last year’s.
Thank you so much for everything you taught me, it has really brought me a long way and has opened the doors to other opportunities as well.
Best of luck and may you continue to be blessed in everything you do.
She recently sent me an email asking for words of advice on her own internship program:
Just hired my first two interns and they start tomorrow. I only hope that I can be as great of a mentor to them as you were to me. Any words of advice?
I was happy to hear that another of my former interns now have interns of their own and thought of me when seeking advice:
How exciting! My #1 advice is to remember that they must take something away from your internship for it to have been successful. It’s so easy to give interns mundane “busy work”…it’s harder to give them something they can learn from. You don’t have to have a syllabus and do lectures and all that craziness I like to do; just make sure they are grasping what they are doing and why they are doing it. Ask yourself, “how does this task relate to their field of study and do they understand the implications of their task/project in the real world?”
Good luck! – Dae
Internship programs, if done right, can be rewarding for both the intern and the supervisor. I’m not a traditional teacher in a classroom, but I do feel like I’m teaching these college students something valuable. And from their feedback, it seems they think so as well!