Preparing college students for the marketing profession takes commitment and planning

Internships can help launch well-prepared talent into the workforce after graduation but mentoring requires engagement from professionals.

Recently, I on-boarded a martech intern. It’s exciting to offer college students an opportunity to explore their professional interests. The great thing about martech is how it touches many of the various disciplines and teams in the marketing department that can be highly beneficial for students looking for real-world experience – not to mention help the marketing profession launch well-prepared talent into the workforce after graduation.

A colleague and friend in human resources advised me that an internship is a two-way transaction. Our company expects some value from the intern, but their interests and goals for the experience are also important.

With that in mind, I’ve built an intern experience in the marketing department to meet everyone’s expectations in the following ways.

Townhall meetings. Watching some of our monthly townhall recordings will help them understand the company, what it does and the culture of the place.

Onboarding and introductions. Meeting key people, reviewing internal documentation, reading martech publications (like MarTech Today, the Chief Marketing Technologist blog and CabinetM’s workbooks Attack Your Stack and Merge Your Stacks), and setting up meetings with colleagues and vendors will lay the groundwork for understanding projects.

Share internal documentation. Part of my job is to maintain documentation about our martech stack. While this is invaluable to our organization, this is especially helpful to an intern to gain a better understanding of our stack and its components.

Review current projects. Provide a list of projects we have underway – as well as ideas for future project ideas an intern might be interested in like competitor research, skills audit, building out documentation, evaluating Stackies Award submissions and finding tools that could boost our existing anchor systems.

Project meetings. Whether the intern will actually participate in the project or not, the inclusion in formal meetings exposes them to a variety of topics – like business continuity and disaster recovery, agile project management, vendor check-ups, procurement and requirement gathering.

Connect with others. I’ve been heartened how many of my colleagues have openly invited our intern to spend time with their team. Formal project meetings introduce them to colleagues but this additional interaction provides more opportunity to ask questions and gain insights from other perspectives as well.

Empowerment. Over the next few weeks, as our intern settles in and learns more about the company and its competitors, I hope they make a project proposal of their own to tailor this learning experience to their interests.

It’s important to provide substantive projects to an intern so they can grow their educational experience. But a great internship experience just doesn’t happen. It requires planning and a commitment to educating the next generation of marketers. The added benefit of dedicating the time to take on an intern is having a new team member who brings curiosity, enthusiasm and a fresh perspective to the team.

Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land. Staff authors are listed here.

About The Author

Steve Petersen is a marketing technology manager at Western Governors University in Salt Lake City, Utah. He started on WGU’s marketing website team where he helped create and implement several initiatives including site redesign and maintenance, multivariate testing, user testing and mobile app development. Prior to WGU, he worked as a strategist at the Washington, DC digital agency The Brick Factory where he worked closely with trade associations, non-profits, major brands, and advocacy campaigns. Petersen holds a Master of Information Management from the University of Maryland and a Bachelor of Arts in International Relations from Brigham Young University. He’s also a Certified ScrumMaster.

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