Helping interns to help you

Helping interns to help you

John Bernard, global marketing director at Mozilla Firefox OS, explains the value of taking on marketing interns.

In almost every marketing team I have worked in, or run, over the past 20 years, we have hired interns for a few weeks or up to a full year.

A marketing department benefits from longer-term internships because it allows an intern to understand how the company runs and the role of the marketing department. You can also train someone more effectively from this foundation. They become not just another member of staff but a valued member of your team.

Young interns become a dynamic resource, offering fresh thinking and insight. They will tell you straight if something will or will not resonate with a young target audience. They can be very good at spotting and sharing viral trends, as they tend to be the target market. We were made aware of ‘What Does the Fox Say’ – subsequently used for a Firefox OS ATL campaign in Latin America – by an intern when it had hit ‘only’ 50k views on YouTube.

You get the best from your interns if you respect their skills and the time they put in. They may be the most junior person in the office but within the UK mobile industry we’ve always paid them the market rate. This builds a sense of loyalty with someone you might want to be part of your team full-time when their programme has finished.

We have used direct links with UK universities to attract interns but direct applications through the careers pages on company websites also work well. This has created a more open recruitment process that widens the net in terms of the mix of nationalities and skillsets we can attract.

We want an enthusiastic individual who has a passion for marketing. Typically, a new intern has a week to settle in and meet the different marketing departments such as PR, advertising, sponsorship and digital, but also the commercial, sales and finance teams they’ll work closely with. After that, we give them hands-on experience dealing with agencies directly and managing budgets. There are usually projects lined up for them to jump into.

There can be challenges with interns regarding how much sensitive information relating to potential new products or embargoed financial results can be shared. In my experience, interns demonstrate intellectual maturity and see the extra responsibility as part of their education – something that can’t be provided in lectures or tutorials.

You can see within a couple of weeks if someone will really benefit a marketing team in the long term. If they are passionate, have a great work ethic and fit straight into the wider team, they will provide huge value. These are the interns every marketing department craves.

John Bernard is a multi-award winning marketer who has more than 15 years' experience working with blue chip telecoms and FMCG brands. He has an MBA from Henley Business School and for the past decade has managed marketing budgets of more than £15m.

John Bernard Global Marketing Director Mozilla Firefox OS
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