Summer interns, what a great source of free labour! A chance to kick back for a few weeks while someone a little younger, greener and keener takes the strain. All that fetching and carrying you won’t have to bother with for the foreseeable, while a more energetic pair of legs fetches your mid morning coffee and trots off to Pret for your lunchtime cream cheese bagel, right? Wrong!!!
Links with student communities
At Freestyle we’ve been developing links with young talent for the past couple of years, working with local design & technology sixth formers, running seminar events for ‘young people’ in partnership with Channel 4, & developing a partnership with Oxford Brookes Business School Oxford Brookes Business School , contributing through guest lectures & hopefully adding a real world element to the student experience.
Initiatives involving students these days are a serious business. Student debt is on the rise, competition for the best courses is hotter than ever, & all in an ever tightening job market. Students can’t afford to waste their time fetching coffee and loading printer paper!
Give & take
The old adage ‘you get back what you put in’ has never been more true. At Freestyle we’ve tried to invest our own time, giving interns access to some of our most experienced employees & importantly real clients. Building trust and exposure with organisations like Oxford Brookes raises our profile with students at Oxford, and with proper use of the internet, the wider student community. The benefit to our business is in brand visibility and reputation, affecting our ability to attract the best and brightest. It also brings us into contact with senior lecturers, and a chance to communicate the skills we want to see in graduates.
Digital agencies getting older
The digital industry has grown up over the past decade and a half. As a business we’ve gone from a family of twentysomethings, to a profession of thirty to fortishsomethings. This coming of age gives us a business full of professionals with decades of collective experience, but it also means the exuberance of youth isn’t as ever present as it once was. In any industry, even one as fast paced as digital marketing, it’s easy to become staid. Behaviours easily become learnt and it’s easy for people and businesses to carry on doing the same things despite best endeavours to stay innovative. A fresh pair of eyes and a sharp mind can provide innovation that otherwise might never have entered your business. Intelligent new faces also have an effect on your existing employees who will raise their own game, resulting in the best possible experience for the intern, existing employees and of course the client!
Getting quality Interns
Your ability to attract the best candidates depends largely on how much effort you’re prepared to put in up front. Following our lecture work with Oxford Brookes, we ran a competition targeting the same students to find a suitable intern. We wanted someone who, in return for a salary, could come in and show real value getting involved alongside our teams on real client work, and the serious selection process reflected this. The approach worked, and after several rounds of interviewing, Jess Chivers (an MSc student in her final year) is half way through a 3 months internship and is already producing good work.
Real world experience
Students need real world experience & this kind of opportunity is priceless, as Jess Chivers our latest intern explains: “When I first received the email inviting me to apply for a paid summer internship with Freestyle I couldn’t quite believe my luck! Paid internships with digital agencies, where you are treated as a valued member of the team and offered a real opportunity to contribute are virtually non-existent. My role with the social media function is really unrestrictive, enabling me to get involved with the range of different projects and maximise my commercial development whilst I’m here.”
What happens to interns like Jess after the 3 months is up? That’s as much a test of how well we’ve performed as it is a judgement on Jess’s abilities. If all things go to plan, a short internship is an opportunity for both parties to suss each other out and establish the best future role, hopefully inside your business. If the fit isn’t there, hopefully you’ll still have three months of valuable work experience, but without the cost of expensive recruitment agency fees!
Find out more through Jess’s blog