As summer comes to an end and schools are getting back in session, the time to find an intern is now. More and more young people are seeking out internships to give them experience and a leg up in the post-graduation hiring world, as well as to help them find out what kind of career path they might want to take in adulthood. Finding good interns can be competitive, especially in a market where marketing firms, banks and other institutions already have partnerships with high schools and universities. But endurance events have a level of commodity and unexpectedness that can make your organization stand out, especially to students who are engaged in school sports.
Offering an internship with your endurance event is an excellent way to get more help in coordinating your event while also training potential future interns or volunteers. While unpaid internships are not necessarily as popular as they once were, interns generally expect lower per-hour pay rates and/or college credit hours as they build their experience. Whether you’re able to pay your intern a stipend or simply offer them free registration or other perks, it will be a less expensive investment than a full-time employee on staff.
Interns are also an investment in your event’s future, giving the next generation a stake in endurance events in their community. Interns often return to companies where they spent a semester to work full-time or even to volunteer or donate in the future. An intern may also have insight into new social media marketing or other methods you weren’t unaware of before or weren’t able to manage without extra help.
At the same time, interns gain valuable experience that will set them apart in their future job search. They will learn the ins and outs of planning an endurance race event, which may inspire them to start up their own or help with local races. Having an internship in endurance event planning may open doors in sports management, athletic sponsorships, marketing or event planning in other areas. Interns will also meet other athletes and volunteers who can help them form industry connections and a passion for endurance events.
Leveraging Interns for Event Planning
Many internships are relatively unscripted, meaning you won’t necessarily know where to put the intern to work until they show up on their first day. It’s best to be clear with what you need and where they can help; then expand their responsibilities based on what they are best at and what they most enjoy. The most important part with any employee is setting the proper expectations and goals. Be sure they have or know where to find the resources they need to accomplish their goals. After all, resourcefulness is a skillset that is invaluable in any professional field.
Many interns expect to do basic physical tasks, like getting coffee, posting flyers or running errands for their summer position. This can certainly be helpful for your team, but it’s best to make sure interns gain actual experience from working with you that they couldn’t gain elsewhere. Otherwise, you’ll earn a reputation as offering an ineffective internship that will make it harder to recruit future candidates to your cause.
Depending on their existing skills and interests, interns can also help with data entry, social media planning, event registration, volunteer coordination and other managerial aspects. It’s important to make sure you understand their capabilities before assigning them work, though, so you don’t set them up for failure by asking them to do something outside of their skillset. Giving them more responsibility and providing incentives, like a project they can spearhead during their tenure, are great ways to reward them for hard work while also providing an overall goal for the internship.
Rewards and Returns
Because interns are paid very little, it’s best to make the experience worthwhile for them with other rewards to compensate. Offering a free registration to your event is a good start, as well as perks such as discounts, T-shirts and other giveaways. Always make sure you comply with local and national labor laws to ensure you’re compensating your workers to the correct extent.
You can also reward your interns by giving them more responsibility and insight into the work itself. Bring them along to important meetings, such as corporate sponsorship discussions and city permitting meetings, to give them an understanding of what goes on in the background of planning an endurance event. This will also give them some visibility in your organization with people outside your endurance event, which will add value to the internship.
The time to advertise and hire an intern is now as the fall semester is about to begin. If you haven’t already secured one, there’s no better time to start. Outline the job description and payment structure, then advertise the position wherever you can. Word-of-mouth is often the best way to find an intern—you probably know someone who has a teenager looking for a part-time job to pad out their resume. Other free options include alumni networks, college message boards and even Facebook Recommendations. The point is: Don’t wait. If you want interns to help with your event planning, you should have them onboard as soon as possible.