It’s almost back to school time for many young people including students who had an internship experience this summer. Recently I’ve seen several posts on LinkedIn reveling the work interns did for the companies they’ve brought eyes & hands and more importantly minds & hearts to.
For me, an internship is a two-way given and take – where the student grows and learns how to connect in many ways, while I clearly recall not only gaining energy from those that interned on my team but developing a commitment to support interns as they look to choose and move their careers along.
I reached out to some former interns and others that are about to go back to school after giving up their summer this year to work in a business. They summed up what went on well – “insightful, immersive, incredible and compelling.” As they learned the ins and outs of the companies they worked with they also connected with a lot of people; talking through problems and asking questions which helped others on the team to stay focused. They were the eyes that looked over work and helped improve a spreadsheet, hands that took notes or as one intern told me he did some “thinking with pen and paper.”
Technology is a natural for young people and an expectation. Whether it was used for research or confirming for them that it is an enabler for business, they discovered it made them more effective and helps achieve maximum results. Each of the interns I spoke with in the past week had a technical background and are pursuing degrees in various technology disciplines.Their minds were put to work – for the security guy he brought along his belief that we need to think not only about technology itself but how to make it more secure when using it, while the IT generalist’s Search Engine Optimization background and knowledge of how South American economies work helped the team provide guidance to the customers they were working with.
Despite being brick and mortar visitors, these Millennials admit they had no idea about the complexities of the retail world. As one intern told me, “I had no idea of the complexity of a ‘cash register’ or the amount of technology that was in use ‘behind the scenes’ of a convenience store. It seemed so simple and uncomplicated when I purchased gas at the pump or walked inside to grab a drink or snack before my internship. At the end of the summer I had an entirely different view of the convenience store industry and the technology involved.”
Others who were involved with retail payment projects were amazed by the inner workings of a customer transaction and “mind blown” by the extent of cards and interchange that had to be outlined in a cost of acceptance analysis project.
A good internship comes along with many types of experiences whether it’s an open and engaging conversation “over a beer,” as one intern told me or a bringing your heart to a community service event.
If you are an employer and haven’t had the chance to work with an intern – make plans with your local university for an opportunity that will make a difference to you, your employees and customers, and to the student yearning to share and gain experience. Everyone will celebrate each other’s achievements when it’s time for the intern to head back to school.
Ed Collupy, executive consultant at W. Capra Consulting Group can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and be sure to visit www.capraplus.com for more retail technology and business insights. Collupy’s IT leadership and business team experience helps him provide strategic, operational, and project direction to projects for retailers, emerging businesses and technology companies.