Are Your Interns Camera-Ready? Inspiration from ‘The Internship’


What if those two dudes from “Wedding Crashers” sold their law practice, moved to the Bay Area and got internships with the almighty Google?

That seems to be the premise of “The Internship,” the latest Vince Vaughn-Owen Wilson vehicle that hits theaters on Friday.

The movie may make Google more of household name than it already is (if that’s possible). But, as Vaughn told an audience of real-life Google interns and technology reporters after a screening of “The Internship” in San Francisco: "This is not a documentary on Google where you come in and say, 'This is exactly the way things are done there.’” That’s according to the Tampa Bay Times.

So, putting aside what is sure to be two hours worth of wise cracks and witty rejoinders—it wouldn’t be a Vaughn-Wilson flick without them—we thought we would provide a more sober approach to how PR departments and marcomm agencies can enhance their internship programs.

Here are a few tips to ensure your internships are beneficial to the company and the interns, compliments of Michelle Sieling, an account manager at PR agency Vantage Communications:

Do you have time to train or mentor the intern? If you want someone to get started right away and don’t have time to train him or her you’ll need someone who has already interned, preferably in PR. But if you are willing to hire people without a lot of real-world experience, be prepared to devote at least the first few weeks to training and have someone at the company or agency check with the interns on a regular basis.

Should it be paid or unpaid? Paid can be a good way to go, especially in a competitive environment where you need to compete for (and attract) quality candidates. If you are considering unpaid internships, such as ones for school credit, keep in mind that even though you are not investing money in a salary, you will be investing time in training and developing a potential future employee.

How long will the internship program last? Most agencies run their internships anywhere from three to six months because of the time it takes to train an intern. Yet other organizations, such as ones that are seasonal or project based, run them on an as-needed project basis.

Are your expectations clear? Make sure that the internship program has clear goals and expectations outlined for the intern, starting with the hiring process and including the rest of the staff. There should be some flexibility, but be clear about what the internship will entail upfront, and adhere to it as closely as you can. Most agencies run their internships anywhere from three to six months because of the time it takes to train an intern. Yet other organizations, such as ones that are seasonal or project based, run them on an as-needed project basis.

Is there a possibility for full-time employment after the internship? This may not always be possible, but promoting former interns to full-time employees often fosters more loyal employees, and may motivate interns to put in their best effort in the hopes of being hired full-time. If there is a chance of this, keep them informed as to how this process works. Either way, they will be less likely to finish the internship disappointed.

Follow Matthew Schwartz: @mpsjourno1

Follow Michelle Sieling: @MichelleSieling


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About Matthew Schwartz

Group Editor, PR News: Matthew Schwartz is group editor of PR News, the leading source of trends, how-to content and best practices for PR professionals. Matthew leads the editorial strategy for PR News’ premium content products—including its weekly newsletter—and for its digital presence. Matthew was editor of PR News from 2003-2005. Prior to returning to PR News, Matthew was a reporter for Crain’s BtoB and Media Business magazines, where he covered business marketers and media companies. He was also editor of BMA Buzz, a biweekly email newsletter covering B2B marketing, advertising and social media, and contributing writer to Advertising Age Custom. Matthew has helped to launch blogs on behalf of ZoomInfo and direct marketing agency The Kern Organization. He also spent a few years in cable-news precincts, working as a writer/producer at CNN and Fox News Channel.

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