By Gina Peebles, Assistant County Manager, Alachua County
Does your local government invest in interns? According to Forbes (Dec. 6, 2011), there are five reasons you should:
- New perspective on organizational issues
- Ease of use with technology
- It’s a trial period that could lead to something more
- Help with projects or tasks that you’re struggling to complete
- Gain brand advocates
New perspective on organizational issues
If you really stop to think about it, we often do things in government a certain way because “we’ve always done it that way.” An intern offers a fresh perspective when we are explaining our processes/procedures to them, asking [sometimes] simple questions that can challenge our way of thinking. Interns certainly have book smarts, and are excellent researchers, so they may offer some common sense approaches to your long-term organizational issues. They can also share data on emerging trends.
Ease of use with technology
Our County is embarking on new financial software, to include a Human Resources module. Our current Management Intern, Christian, nearly singlehandedly verified conversion information on 800+ employees from our current “green screen” software to our new state-of-the-art software. His help was invaluable! Most interns are very tech savvy. Once trained, they can be tasked to complete a specially assigned project with little supervision required.
It’s a trial period that could lead to something more
Our previous Management Intern, Rachel, proved herself as responsible, customer-focused and competent during her internship. When she started, she told me that she would love to be our Agenda Coordinator. Before her assignment ended, our Agenda Coordinator at the time resigned so she had the chance to compete for the job. Because of her work ethic and can-do attitude, she was the obvious choice for the position.
Help with projects or tasks that you’re struggling to complete
There is always a project that seems too time consuming and complicated to tackle. Updating our Code was that project…until Christian came to the rescue. Because he had spent time in every department in the County, he was able to read and update the Code to ensure it is current with the way we presently operate.
Gain brand advocates
Alachua County’s Management Interns have experienced, first-hand, public service. Because they were engaged in every aspect of managing local County government, they are better equipped to serve our citizens as our future managers, department heads, and administrators. When they hear their friends or colleagues discussing local government, they can share their insight and experience to correct misinformation, or refer them to the correct department/division to set the record straight. Each of our interns will look back on their internship with fondness and will use it as a resume builder for their future career growth. Many employers look favorably on prospective employees who have had an internship or two.
If you are interested in creating a Management Internship program, please feel free to model your program after ours. You are always welcome to email me with questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you for investing in the next generation of leadership through internships!