There is always something to learn in every situation – depending on your perspective.
Some might say it is always better to get an internship at a large corporation for its name recognition, connections, and employment opportunities. It is true. A lot of times, having a big name on your resume (much like a degree from a renowned academic institution) can stack the odds in your favor during a job hunt. Yet, I believe being an intern at relatively new or small companies provide special opportunities to learn and grow.
The current company I am working for is small. We have two owners, nine employees, and two interns including me. I am the marketing intern and I work with two others, making up a three-person marketing team. The small size of this company meant that I was actually handed much more responsibilities and allowed much more involvement in the business than the average intern.
As of today, I am in charge of operating and managing the company’s market research and analysis, Facebook Ads, and Google Ads campaigns. I am a constant presence in board meetings and have been given a chance to voice opinions on and suggestions for the business operations of the company. In some instances, I am actually affecting company policy. For example, through data and cost analysis, I was able to persuade the owners to begin a more active Facebook Ads campaign and move away from traditional advertising such as radio ads. I was given an active role in identifying the CRM needs of the company and research opportunities to switch from Constant Contact. Without much guidance, I identified cities and zip codes with our target market and with potential for business expansion, leading to the company’s requests for title reports on properties in these areas.
It has been an amazing opportunity to have been given so many responsibilities. In many ways, I function more like a full-time employee than an intern. Some might say I am providing free labor, but I believe what I am learning makes up for the lack of pay. I have been able to gain basic knowledge in marketing, in the real-estate industry, in mortgages and the relationship between lenders, brokers, and clients, and in the process of a mortgage loan application. To an even greater degree, I am gaining extremely valuable insight in business operations: what does it mean to run your own business and how do you go about doing so?
This internship has shown me the importance of business planning and its relationship with marketing plans, the importance of company culture and its relationship with attracting quality employees and motivating existing ones, and the importance of establishing structure. By structure, I meant on-boarding and off-boarding processes, time-logs off which to base wage payments, management hierarchy, rewards and punishment schemes, and so on.
Lastly, I am getting another lesson on the importance of effective communication skills in managers. There have been times where I will need sit through three hour meetings with the marketing team to clearly hash out one objective or goal. There have been times where our team needed to sit through several meetings with the owners to get a plan or a decision approved… We all need to learn to be better communicators or at least be effective facilitators or moderators.
In sum, I have learned more about business operations and management than anything else during this internship. Furthermore, having been given great responsibilities, I am developing valuable skills in marketing and research for a future position. Though the situation may not be ideal at a small company, what I am learning is invaluable.