The Future Of Internships?

A couple of months ago, I remember reading an internship posting for Pizza Hut. This wasn’t really an internship, however; it was a post for a Twinternship. Intrigued, I read it — this was a job for a young, social media savvy graduate to get on Twitter and tweet for Pizza Hut. The post has since been filled and The Big Money published an article checking up on how the intern is doing.

When companies use social media, the responsibility is usually with the public relations department. The skill sets are similar in that communicating to audiences is one of the most important parts of the job. That’s exactly what the Twintern does: She posts tweets about the company and talks with customers. It’s an interesting idea, and according to the article, things seem to be working out pretty smoothly. I wouldn’t be surprised to see more “Twinternships” show up for companies large and small.

If you’ve touched on social media during your internship, you’ve probably been asked about Twitter and Facebook because of your age. After all, we are the online generation. However, do you think because we’ve been using these tools socially that we know how to use them strategically? That we can counsel our superiors on successful implementation of a public relations program using these tools?

If you’re charged with anything related to social media, here are some questions to ask your bosses before moving forward with the program:

  • What are the business objectives of the program? This is the first and foremost question you should be asking and you must have a good grasp of the answer. It’s important to approach social media strategically — creating a Facebook page just to have one is not a good way to start.
  • How will each tool be used? Will these channels just post news about the company, or will it be used to talk directly with customers? Social media is no different than traditional public relations in that research and planning are the beginning steps of a campaign. Having a plan set is the key to success.
  • What is the tone of conversation? Will you be more informal when communicating to customers using new media? Is your industry regulated? Know how you want to speak to keep things consistent.
  • How will the company use social media in the future? Will the Twitter stream be around for a short period of time or is it a long-term program? Know where the company is hoping to move with these tools.
  • How should you engage customers? Do you want to ignore people who hate your company’s brand? How do you want to talk to the brand evangelists? Just like crisis communications, think about what people are saying about your company’s brand and prepare to respond when appropriate.

So, what experience have you had with social media in your internship? Have you learned anything you’d like to share? Do you have anything else to add to the list? Please share your experiences.

14 thoughts on “The Future Of Internships?

    • Author gravatar

      As the press assistant for a political campaign, I’m solely responsible for all social media communication. It’s a great experience because I’ve been able to define our social media outreach. Twitter, Facebook and Linkedin are the main channels we communicate through but I also manage our Flickr and Youtube accounts. I’m in the process of planning a blogger/social media mixer, in hopes to generate a great deal of Charlotte blog posts about our candidate. I can honestly say, “I’m enjoying this ten times more than what I thought.”


      Kion Sanders
      VP of Chapter Development

    • Author gravatar

      Social media plays a significant role in my internship as the Corporate Communications Intern for Delta Dental of Michigan, Ohio and Indiana. One of my main responsibilities is to monitor online conversations and articles about Delta Dental in the midwest and its benefits and services. I monitor Twitter for people having issues with customer service, that are pleased with what our company offers for their dental insurance needs, and to find out who is retweeting our news. Monitoring the Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and other profiles of our competitors is also part of my role. I do research every day on what is going on with the healthcare and dental industries.

      There is some great advice in this post about how to think strategically when it comes to getting started with social media for a business. I think more internship programs similar to Pizza Hut’s will be popping up soon.

    • Author gravatar

      Social media plays a huge role in my internship because this year, we are going solely online. I intern for Fall Career Days at Penn State. It is the largest university-run career fair in the nation! After printing more than 50,000 student directories in the last five years and wasting 12.8 million pages, we have decided to put everything online. Our biggest problem is, how to notify students to go online. After surveying students, we found that Facebook and Twitter are the biggest social media contributors. I am in charge of monitoring the sites, tweeting about Fall Career Days, etc. Employers and recruiters are now registering for the Fair via Twitter and Facebook. In a few weeks, I have to give a presentation to more than 50 Career Services employees on Twitter and how to use it effectively.

      I must say, keeping track of all social media sites can be time consuming, but if your social media campaign is great, it will pay off in the end.

      -Dana Bubonovich
      Chapter President
      Lawrence G. Foster Chapter of PRSSA

    • Author gravatar

      Having completed multiple internships I can say that I truly appreciate the crucial questions Nick added at the end of his post. Far too often we find ourselves (both as young professionals and as interns) going through the actions of setting up social media accounts just to have them and check them off our “to do” lists.

      While having access to these sites is important, it is more important still to maintain them. Identifying key publics and ensuring that messages are delivered through these mediums effectively is essential to the success of any public relations practitioner. The biggest problem (which in turn becomes our biggest detriment) is static information. If you are going to have a blog, update it. If you are going to have a Twitter account, Tweet (and please ensure you are sharing valuable or at least interesting information). If you are going to develop a Facebook page, make sure it is updated. Having access to these sites just for the sake of having them can even work against you. Your publics have expectations and if they aren’t met or exceeded they will lose interest and you will lose them.

      The professional world is changing and it will continue improve and advance itself. Now, as fledgling professionals, it is our responsibility to master the skills necessary to keep up with the ever-changing technologies that we rely so heavily upon.

      Michael J. Wilson
      National VP of Internships and Jobs

      Brigham Young University

    • Author gravatar

      That sounds really great. After the Obama election and social media moved to the mainstream in regards to political communication, it seems that social media is becoming more important at the local level, too. Good luck with the campaign!

    • Author gravatar

      Thanks for dropping by, Becky. What’s cool about social media is the “water cool conversations” of the past are now online for companies to (hopefully) listen to. Great to see you guys doing just that.

    • Author gravatar

      You make a really good point about putting everything online — seems it’s almost hand-in-hand with the “go green” trend, too. Good luck with the presentation and let me know if you need help with it!

    • Author gravatar

      Mike, you’re right on target. How many blogs do you see that haven’t been updated in months? Once you commit to something, commit to it. Social media should be part of the strategy — not just part of a to do list, as you mention. Thanks for adding to the discussion.

    • Author gravatar

      A very stylish and ambassadorial answer. It’s really considerable and common.
      Sean Cruz

    • Author gravatar

      I’m a marketing intern for a large production company based in the southwest. When I started one if the things they asked me to look into was if social media was right for them. To make a long story short I found that it just wasn’t practical, the company is really just a B2B and doesn’t deal with just one person but rather large committees.

    • Author gravatar

      Interning with a nonprofit I think the company actually felt more pressured to start delving into social media since it’s free. However, one of the biggest problems is that they made accounts on these sites but never really integrated them into their marketing/PR functions. I think a lot of companies definetly create these accounts because they feel like they need to have them but don’t properly utilize them. One of my main objectives for the summer was to try and develop these avenues and show my bosses (who are all very new to the idea of social media) how they can be used with fundraising, events and community relations. Having a knowledge of social media I think is now expected for all young professionals in communication fields.

    • Author gravatar

      Hi Sherry — I’d recommend seeing if anyone is talking about your company online. If it’s large, chances are it is. You’re definitely smart for not jumping right in without the research, however. Thanks for sharing!

    • Author gravatar

      I agree that this new media knowledge is becoming more and more expected, but are those expectations rational? Like we point out above, strategy in social media is key, and most students don’t have a complete understanding of strategy.

    • Author gravatar

      Hi! I was surfing and found your blog post… nice! I love your blog. 🙂 Cheers! Sandra. R.

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