Interns can be an invaluable resource for an organization because of their ability to expand workplace capacity. Their role can become complex and sometimes hard to understand. With many different types of internships available, interns and organizations have to be very clear about what they are hoping to get out of the experience, so they can minimize confusion and maximize productivity.
While there are many ways that interns can contribute to an organization’s capacity, there are also some guidelines that the company must follow when bringing interns into the fold. Under The Fair Labor Standards Act, there are six pieces of criteria that must be followed. Those six pieces cover things like what to expect when it comes to compensation, all the way to what types of roles and responsibilities an intern can engage in during their day to day work. Essentially what it says is: 1) internships must be treated as a learning experience, and must mirror an educational environment, 2) interns cannot be used to displace staff members, but instead must work under direct supervision of other staff members, 3) internships must be for the benefit of the intern, and 4) it is not mandatory for organizations to provide wages for internships.
With that being said, when the criteria for bringing interns into an organization are met, the roles and responsibilities of interns can look several different ways. At The Mockingbird Society, interns contribute to the organization’s capacity through working to help implement programs such as our Mockingbird Family Model (MFM), assisting our marketing and development team in donor cultivation and volunteerism, and working with our public policy and communications team to assist our youth chapters in their advocacy cycle.
Interns are also in a unique position that allows them to be ambassadors for an organization. The more interns learn about the organization, the more opportunity they have to breed interest about the company to a wider demographic that may not be familiar with our work.
In the past, we as an organization have benefitted from having interns because they can easily be utilized to conduct work that may help facilitate better cross systems collaborations. When an intern assists with projects that multiple departments oversee, they have the ability to act as liaisons and can facilitate better communication between departments.
Interns provide a fresh set of eyes and opinions. Oftentimes, employees become overly familiarized with the work they do and projects start to mirror each other. Being that interns are new, they provide an outside opinion that isn’t always available in their absence.
Interns can be an amazing asset and resource to any organization if their role is valued, taken seriously and their skillset is utilized in a way that is meaningful and helps promote professional growth for the intern. At The Mockingbird Society we try to do just that. Mockingbird thanks all the interns who have helped us further our mission. Your continued dedication has been a driving force in the work we do. For questions about Mockingbird Society internship opportunities, visit our website at www.mockingbirdsociety.org.