5 Ways to Make Sure Your Internship Rocks: What we learned after surviving (& eventually thriving) five summer programs September 7, 2018National Intern Day 7/26/18 From left: Jessica Ham (AMC Administrative Assistant) and our 8 summer interns: Phil G, Ryan A, Colin E, Max V, Yonathan M, Matt P, Matt T & Andy H Congratulations. You’ve decided that you want to start an internship program with your company. Although, you may have some doubts as to just how successful it could be. You’ve read articles online, and the recruiting process seems pretty straight forward. However, it sure would be great if you could get some pointers from a business that already has actual hands on experience. Let us share a little bit of insider information to help you along. One of the best things you can do is establish a relationship with a college or university that has a program you’re interested in pursuing students from. We are very lucky that our founder/CTO Anthony Uliano had the vision to start our summer internship program back in 2014 with Virginia Commonwealth University. Although we strive to make sure the relationship is mutually beneficial, one of the biggest benefits for AMC has been the fresh perspective that students bring. “We live and breathe this stuff all the time, so we need fresh eyes, and students provide that,” Uliano said. “Students are less afraid to fail — that generates success and inspiration.” Since we are a technology company with a focus on contact center and CRM integration, we choose to work with the VCU College of Engineering. Since 2014, they’ve been working on building user experience enhancements, prototyping new functionality, as well as strengthening their own creative problem-solving skills. While the process wasn’t perfect, the results exceeded our expectations. Let’s start sharing. Uptown Alley Richmond Interns are people too Just like new full-time employees, interns should be introduced to everyone they’ll be working with and be greeted with a warm welcome. Off-site welcome parties are a key ingredient. Make sure to also invite as many of your employees as you can, especially those employees that they will be working with during their internship. The more the merrier. Guess what we choose as our venue each time? Bowling! We find it helps to break the ice and get people chatting. Plus, it’s also an awesome way to work on those team building skills. Here’s one our favorite bowling alleys, Uptown Alley Richmond. Make sure to include a little bit of food while bowling as well, and the team building social will be a hit. Andy H (Developer intern) and Praveen Ravela (AMC Senior Developer) Everyone needs guidance Senior level mentors are extremely important for interns. Make sure your interns have the guidance they need and are appointed at least 1 or 2 senior level “go to” people within the department that they are working. Our interns work very closely with quite a few of our development team members. Our team can then offer advice and guidance if needed. In addition to senior level mentors, let’s not forget about Human Resources. The interns will need a “go to” person in that area as well, since they’ll need to fill out new hire paperwork, coordinate letters of recommendations, and have day to day questions. Even if you are not paying your interns, you’ll still want them to have a contact they feel comfortable going to with general company questions. Interns at work at their group desks Everybody gather ‘round This year, we have 4 teams of 2 interns each. Three development teams and 1 marketing team. In the past, we found that having interns in separate areas made them feel siloed and forgotten. This year we’ve grouped them all in one area of our office at 2 large conference tables. You are probably wondering, if they are on 4 different teams, why would we do this? We’ve found that collaboration is key. Sitting together encourages them to talk about each of their projects. Not only do they learn and get support from each other, it helps them to brainstorm on new ideas as well. More than just coffee runs Interns have new creative eyes and skills to contribute, so make sure they are given meaningful projects. Who doesn’t like to be recognized and/or appreciated for their hard work? So why not do this for your interns as well? Create and assign structured, meaningful projects for them to work on so that they are engaged. Nobody likes to sit around bored with not enough work to do or feel that their work is under-valued. Having meaningful projects only makes the work better. It’s OK to be a show off They’ve gotten a good start on their projects and are excited to share their ideas, so what next? Have the interns prepare and present PowerPoint presentations and/or demos to their mentors and anyone else interested every 2 weeks. This provides the interns an environment where they can get good, constructive feedback on their presentations. In our experience, we’ve found these meetings work best if kept to no more than 1-hour total, each team being assigned 15 minutes. Make sure to ask them questions about their projects. Having follow ups in stages helps for idea sharing and gives them steps to build on. How did we do? Your internship has come to conclusion and you are wondering how you did. What is the best way to get feedback so that you can better your process for the next time? Just ask your interns and senior level mentors. They are your best resource. We use bi-weekly Team retrospectives and one on one end of internship retrospectives as well as online surveys to ask these 2 things: what went well and what didn’t. Once you have those answers, you can start making your adjustments for next time. Don’t cringe when you get back feedback. Guess what? Constructive feedback should be welcomed and helps you to improve your track record for next time. We consider it fine tuning. Face to face opinions can work sometimes, but we find that online surveys work best. You’ll get more true feedback. How do we know we finally figured it out? “Thank you for the insightful and rewarding summer here at AMC Technology. I would like to express my appreciation towards this opportunity that has allowed me to gain and explore new knowledge and experience in my career path. Working on AMC Technology’s projects has allowed me to gain skills in software development, web application, and team collaboration. I am looking forward to head back to school for my final year at VCU after completing this intern program.” “The atmosphere in this office is great and allows for individuals to be comfortable in a hard-working environment. I enjoyed the support and guidance from everyone and the free time taken from your busy schedules. Thank you again for all the opportunities you have given me.” Matt T– Developer Intern _________________________________________________________________________________________ “I wanted to take the time to thank you all for giving me this opportunity to serve as an intern this Summer. I have truly enjoyed this experience and feel that I have gained valuable insight into the marketing industry over the past several months.” “Providing me with this opportunity to assist on a variety of projects allowed me the chance to observe different aspects of marketing and public relations through the creation of social media, updating datasheets, and maintaining the website through the admin portal.” “It’s been an exciting ride working with everyone and I’m sad to be leaving such great team. You all were awesome and a huge help in aiding me in my journey to decide on my future career path. I hope to keep in contact with everyone in the near future! Once again, thank you for this internship, your exceptional mentoring, and friendly guidance.” Ryan A – Marketing Intern _________________________________________________________________________________________ “Throughout this internship I worked closely with Praveen, one of AMC’s senior developers. He was extremely understanding and did an amazing job of guiding me when I was lost. As interns, we constantly gained new information and Praveen helped make the transition of learning how to apply that information into working code very smooth.” Yonathan M – Developer Intern Anthony UlianoAnthony X. Uliano, Founder / CTO of AMC Technology. I’m a CRM and contact center integration specialist, responsible for product development and strategy at AMC, a company I founded in 1995. I got my start as the architect for SAP’s Customer Interaction Center, which I sold to SAP back in 1997, launching my 23 year obsession with CRM and CTI integration. I split my time in Richmond VA and Bar Harbor Maine, where I live with my wife and 3 children. When I’m not running AMC, I’m an avid film buff and volunteer at several non-profits.