Let’s talk about interns…

by Richenda Vermeulen
January 17, 2017

When things go wrong in social-media-land, brands often come back to the same old excuse.

“Our deepest apologies for the previous tweet. An intern accidentally posted from our account, thinking it was their own. It will not happen again.”

From Marc Jacobs to KTVU to Habitat UK, the public humiliation brands have faced “because of an intern” goes on and on.

Poor interns… Always getting blamed.

At ntegrity, we’re not shy about our love for interns. Given the right opportunities, coaching, and feedback, most companies are better off with a couple of interns.

But there’s limits, too.

Why interns = awesome

New (experimental) projects

The new idea list. How often do you get to it? One of those projects might be an awesome fit for an intern, especially if they can own it. Give clear goals, guidelines and regular feedback, and unleash their ideas!

Maddie joined our team after working across multiple not-for-profits. Her goal was to grow her  digital skills, and we were lucky to have her! Together, we drafted a ‘Social Media 101’ e-course that I would have never had the time to do alone. This experimental project was a perfect task: Maddie could start from scratch, dream big, and see results. We worked together, learned from one another and both of us benefited.

Cultivating talent

From the first day our new intern Sally started with us, we were intimidated by how brilliant she was! Sally is a sponge for new information, rigorously organised, and focused. Her enthusiasm and kindness make her a joy to be around. Sally was an awesome intern, and an even better employee.

Internships provide an extended opportunity for someone to see what it’s like to work here, and for us to see how talented people fit our culture. Two of our current staff started as interns… It’s a worthy investment!

What we expect

Internships should be mutually beneficial. For the intern, that means valuable projects,  honest feedback, and opportunities for growth. For the employer, that means not taking advantage of cheap labour. Here’s what we expect:

Be part of the team

Like everyone on the team, we have high expectations! Busy staff invest their time in making sure interns thrive, and in turn, we expect interns to invest in us. That means trying your best, being honest, and building relationships. We expect our interns to ask questions, be curious and most importantly, be kind.

Start on our stuff

We spend most of our time on producing amazing client work – but it means we don’t always have the time to focus on important internal projects. We look to interns to help us make these amazing too; from marketing to events and research.

Once you’ve found your feet, you’ll have the chance to shadow our strategists, and discover the client-facing side of the business. Our clients expect the best from us, and our team always aims to go beyond client expectations. There will be a lot to learn from our strategists, you will rapidly acquire digital skills however its the responsibility of our staff (not interns) to do client work.

Working in social media is not playing on social media

It always makes me smile when someone says: “I want to work in social so I can spend my whole day on Instagram!”. Yes, that happens.

Aimlessly browsing social media is a distraction, not a job. It’s a skill to stay focused. To want do excellent work in digital, you’ll need to concentrate on planning, executing, measuring, innovating, finding solutions, questioning assumptions, and being awesome.

It’s cool to tweet from work. It’s not cool to read your entire timeline, and get distracted every time you get a notification.

Simple tips for success (for employers)

Start internships on the right foot with these three tips.

Start slow

We try hard to start internships during quieter periods. This allows us to onboard with less stress of meetings and deadlines. It gives us more time with interns to plan projects, define expectations and understand the best way they learn. In Australia, we’ve found November to February to be a good time, as the office slows down during summer.

Encourage. Challenge. Encourage.

Our mantra for working with interns. Find opportunities slightly beyond their comfort zone, encourage them to give it a shot, see how they do, and then encourage them to keep going. Its not a complicated approach.


An intern is giving their time, enthusiasm and commitment, and it’s the right thing to pay what you can. Even if you are a small business and money is tight, a stipend to cover their transport, lunch and any other costs of accepting your role is absolutely the right thing to do.


Do you know know someone who would be a good match for an internship at ntegrity?

We’re launching our 2014 internship programme next month. Email info@ntegrity.com.au to learn more about how you can be a part! Fair warning: we will send you a challenge… 🙂