Provide a Great Experience for Your Intern

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I am a city girl with a country upbringing.  I was raised on soul food – including chicken. Chicken was a staple in my home, church, and pretty much every social function I attended growing up. I’ve eaten chicken in nice restaurants, fast food chains, and small neighborhood carry outs. Fried chicken, baked chicken, BBQ chicken, chicken salad, chicken tenders, chicken nuggets –  I have no idea how many different ways I’ve eaten chicken.  Despite my fort year intimate relationship with chicken, we broke up in October 2014.

 

I’m not a vegetarian or a vegan. I haven’t become a PETA member. I love bacon and a good cheeseburger. Most people are surprised when they learn that I still eat pork (gasp) and beef – don’t judge me. My decision not to eat chicken was not planned.  I had an intimate experience with chicken trucks and a chicken factory that changed my eating habits and my life. I haven’t had a similar experience with cow or pigs – and don’t ever plan to.

 

I was presenting at conference in Ocean City, MD in 2014. As I enjoyed my low traffic commute I ended up behind a truck full of chickens.  I was horrified by the large numbers of birds stuffed in dozens of small cages.  The many feathers flying onto my windshield didn’t ease my alarm. I’m kept thinking to myself, “I know some of those birds will be dead on arrival”.  As I continued to drive I reached a red light.  A second chicken truck with feathers flying passed me en route to a different chicken plant than the one ahead of me was destined for. The light turned green and I proceeded down the road. The stench that met me up the road made me nauseous. I looked up and saw smoke billowing out from the chicken plant and realized that the horrible odor that I could taste in my mouth was coming from the chicken plant. I remember smelling that same horrible smell on my way home from North Carolina to Washington, DC every summer. I was an adult before I knew the smell in North Carolina was coming from a chicken plant. In fact, when my grandfather told me that the smell was from a chicken plant I didn’t eat chicken for about 3 months. In October 2014, it was more than a horrible smell – it was a prolonged chicken experience – sight, smell, taste and touch (as I realized I might have remove dead chicken feathers from my car).  It was nearly two years before I could sit in at a table with someone eating chicken without getting nauseous.  Sometimes I still get nauseous from the smell of prepared chicken. The experience was that powerful.

 

What is the point of my story?

We are all in the people business. Although our ultimate goal is to serve more people well, quality marketing and branding are essential to the success of your business or organization.  It’s hard to meet your financial needs when you’re the best kept secret. A poor reputation can also have a negative impact on your bottom line. Outputs are determined by inputs. Customers and clients develop loyalty based on great products and great service.  Similarly, interns become brand ambassadors based on a great internship experience. You may not be able to compete with the salary of Apple or offer extravagant perks like Google, but you can ensure that your intern is able to learn new knowledge, demonstrate new skills, and is nurtured personally and professionally in an environment that promotes innovation and equality – all while having a little fun.

Provide a great experience for your intern. As you plan your internship program, include the five senses, not just financial compensation.

  1. Sight – Let your intern see your business operations
  2. Smell – Get your intern out of the office for fresh air (networking event, community meeting, etc.)
  3. Taste – Share a delicious meal with your intern
  4. Touch – Assign your intern hands on tasks that allow them to put their knowledge into practice
  5. Hear – Provide ongoing feedback

 

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Nicki Sanders is a cupcake lover with a passion for self-discovery and career development. She has a strong background in developing and managing interns and successful internship programs. She is an accomplished manager, professor, coach, trainer, and group facilitator who has packaged her Master of Social Work degree and 20 years of diverse work experience into Packaged For Success, a full service training and professional development company.

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