Brittney Joyce is the content marketing lead at Shoobx, where she works on all things marketing- and writing-related. Prior to joining Shoobx, Brittney ran her own content marketing business and also worked as a legal analyst at a financial litigation firm. You can follow her on Twitter @bpjoyce91.
You’re a busy content marketer with what feels like an endless amount of work to do, and projects are piling up fast. Summer is upon us. Are you thinking about hiring an intern to help take your content strategy to the next level? Interns bring a lot of energy to the table and can be a huge value-add for your marketing team, while gaining valuable professional experience in the process. However, as appealing as the prospect of hiring an intern might be, deciding to bring one onto your marketing team should be a thoughtful decision.
If your company doesn’t already have an internship program in place, you’ll want to carefully consider the structure and goals up front to make sure that the internship experience is positive and productive for both the company and the intern. This post breaks down some of the major steps that should go into defining the internship role, finding an intern, and setting them up for success.
Define What the Intern Will Be Doing (And Write It Down)
You’ve decided you want a content marketing intern. Great! Before you go any further, take some time to define what they’ll be working on with your team. Think about daily tasks, short term projects, and (ideally) one bigger project the intern can own over the course of their internship. Some helpful questions to consider when choosing this type of project are:
Is this something that the intern can make meaningful progress on in the timeframe of their internship?
Can you provide adequate structure and guidance over the course of the project?
Does the project provide opportunity for creative and strategic thinking (i.e., will they have true agency and ownership and not just execute on someone else’s vision the whole time?)
The needs of your organization will ultimately define what projects your content marketing intern works on, but finding something that meets the criteria above usually strikes a happy balance between intern professional development and progress toward marketing goals.
In addition to projects, it’s important to be realistic about your preferred experience level. Do you have the time and resources to mentor and train someone with no experience, but great potential? Would a more experienced intern or upperclassman be a better fit for your organization? Defining this early will help clarify your candidate search.
Once you know what the role that you want to fill looks like, drafting a job description gets a lot easier. This is a great opportunity to show some of your company’s personality while clearly defining what you’re looking for. Don’t just phone it in — use it to give candidates a taste of what working with your team will be like! Job descriptions are just another form of content, after all.
Know Where to Look
When hiring an undergraduate content marketing intern, there are a few places you can launch your search (and you may choose to try several in parallel):
Recruiting Platforms. Handshake, a recruiting platform, is widely used at many U.S. colleges and universities for both full-time and internship opportunities. It’s free for employers.
Career Services Websites. Sometimes you want to go straight to the source for access to internship-seeking students, particularly when their schools don’t participate in a platform like Handshake. Some schools have their own platforms for job postings, and others will circulate opportunities they receive to their students.
Academic Departments. Do you want someone who’s a Marketing or Communications major? Maybe English or Journalism? Check the relevant department websites for your target schools — sometimes reaching out to the right leader in the department to share your internship opportunity is a highly effective way to target candidates with the specific background you’re looking for.
While you’re looking, you probably also want to consider location. Do you want someone local? Or are you location-agnostic? If you’re hiring a summer intern and there’s a possibility of extending intern work into the school year on a part-time basis, you may want to target local schools in your search.
What to Look For
The qualities in a content marketing intern that you’re looking for will vary depending on the work that you’re hoping to have them focus on, but as a baseline, you’ll want someone with excellent writing abilities. This means that your job post should ask for writing samples. Not all the applicants you encounter will have non-academic writing samples, and that’s okay — learning to write in a new form (for instance, blog posts or marketing emails) typically doesn’t take too long for a motivated content marketing intern who has strong writing abilities to begin with.
As you bring in candidates to interview, you’ll want to ask questions to better understand their interest in the role, both in terms of content marketing work and the company itself. Are they genuinely enthusiastic about the work and potential projects involved? Have they looked at your company’s blog or social media profiles? Do they actually like to write? How will this experience fit into their post-graduation plans and goals, and (potential) future career as a content marketer?
Set Your Intern Up for Success
Once you’ve found your dream content marketing intern, plan for their arrival. This should include an organized approach to getting them up to speed on their internship projects and day to day tasks, an overlay of the marketing landscape at your company, and clear guidance on the resources available to them. Information related to writing conventions on your marketing team (style guides or editorial best practices) and brand voice are particularly helpful in orienting a new hire in a content role, as well as examples of content produced for different channels. Start with smaller projects, provide feedback, and ramp them up to bigger responsibilities.
You should also make sure to check in with your content marketing intern about their goals for the internship early on. Your intern is there to help your team progress important projects, but they’re also striving to develop their professional skills and experience, so understanding their goals and interests will help you better identify opportunities to do that. And keep the conversation going throughout the internship — goals usually aren’t static, so communication is key to staying aligned on projects and progress.
Not ready to hire an intern for the summer? Many students look for internships during the school year as well, so start gearing up for the fall semester and get yourself an amazing content marketing intern to kick off the school year.