Background on the Agency
Like most agencies in this space, Richie and the team started out as digital yes-men. The journey started doing work with friends. Website design, video, social media, anything was in play. Today, they’ve narrowed their focus to inbound, eCommerce, and strategic web design.
Documenting their processes has been a priority through each phase of transition. Having just lost a key employee, Richie feels just how important it is to have their role documented.
Headquartered in Athens, GA, home of the University of Georgia, has certain perks. As the agency has grown, interns have played a big role in their agency development.
Why to Partner with Interns
All agencies feel the pain of staffing. Feeling this pain, it can be easy to think that interns could help. Be careful. Building an internship program isn’t something that you should rush into too fast.
As an entrepreneur, it is so easy to take on more than you can handle. We get excited about new ideas and jump into new ventures. When it comes to starting an internship program, start small and document processes as you go.
For a program to be successful, it is important to put the student at the center of the experience. Ask the question: “How do we make this valuable for the student? How can we make sure they walk away with the knowledge that they need for the future?
Education also needs to play a role in your program. Just because a student is going to college doesn’t mean they know inbound marketing. Universities aren’t preparing students for inbound. Richie shared that they needed to take that education on themselves. At HW, this took the form of weekly presentations to the interns.
How to Structure an Inbound Agency Internship Program
You’re not going to have everything figured out right away. That is ok! It is important that you don’t bring on more than you can handle and you keep improving as you go.
After working with over 70 interns, the process at HW have tightened.
“The more structure you provide, the better the internship program.”
Attracting the right type of intern plays a big role in the success of the program. Just like the agency hiring process, setting clear expectations helps attract the right fit. Setting a hefty hourly commitment to the internship has been a great move. The weight of this commitment weeds out students who only want a resume boost.
During interviews, they ask: “What are you trying to get out of this?” This question helps find the students who are hungry. There is a big difference between a student who is hungry for a new opportunity and one that is just trying to add something to their resume.
The more official you treat the program, the better students you’ll attract. One way this comes out during the hiring process is creating an offer letter. This helps set expectation, document legal terms, and share the agency dress code.
“Having each intern complete Inbound Certification gets everyone on the same level.”
The bigger your program, the more important it becomes to break things up into roles. HW breaks their internship program into three roles: content, account management, and social media. These roles help define the area of focus for each intern. To learn more about their internship roles, check out their careers page!
Keeping Interns Focused
The last thing you want from an internship program is many hands and no work. For a student to get something out of a program, they need to have a defined amount of work to complete. If an intern gets relegated to watering the plants, they’re less likely to give the program their all.
Inbound GamePlans help keep the interns focused through the whole semester. Using an Inbound GamePlan, Richie knows what marketing should be create to keep a client moving forward. This vision into the future makes it easier to keep the interns focused.
“We try to bring interns onto clients calls because they don’t get that exposure in school.”
If you’re looking for a way to attract up and coming talent, an internship program may be right for you. Just remember, you don’t hire an intern because you don’t have time for something. It takes a big commitment of time and resources.
If everyone on the team unites around that expectation, it can be a great thing!
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