10 ways to say thank you to your public relations interns

Inviting your summer interns back for the company holiday party is another nice way to say thank you to your interns.

We still have a bit of summer left, but it won’t be long before your public relations interns are packing up and heading back to college, or moving on to their first jobs.

Hopefully, your company has given them real-life experiences, coaching, and the hourly pay they are entitled to for bringing value to your firm.  If you handled the internship well, the interns will leave with a favorable impression of your company and will go on to be brand ambassadors.  But did your intern go the extra mile?  Are you especially glad you hired her or him?

If so, before the internship ends, now is the time to think about the ways you can say thank you to your public relations interns, while giving them a good start on their public relations careers.  Here are some suggestions for ways to thank and help your interns before their internship ends.

1. Schedule a meeting with the intern, about a week or two before their last day.  Give them notice of it now, so they can prepare.  You can explain that at this meeting you will discuss and assess their work, provide advice, review their work samples, and hear how their internship experience went for them.  I asked my interns to write a brief summary of their internship experience before this meeting for me.   This helps the intern organize work samples for her or his portfolio, and gives you information to tackle their recommendation letter.

2. Write a LinkedIn recommendation.  Your recommendation may be the first one they receive, so it is especially meaningful.  It should be brief and honest, but specific.  Think of three projects the intern worked on, and their contribution.  Mention a few personal qualities that make this intern desirable as an employee.

3. Write a letter of recommendation.  A letter of recommendation you provide on company letterhead is important for a few reasons.  First of all, not every employer is on LinkedIn (gasp!).  Also, it’s helpful to have a paper copy of a recommendation for the intern’s portfolio, and the letterhead and signature lend authenticity.  In addition, if the intern goes on to another internship, some applications require at least one letter of recommendation.

4. Offer to review their updated portfolio and resume.  At this point, the intern should have work samples, a fair idea of their contributions to the firm, and a letter of recommendation (before their last day).  They can now update their resume with their internship experience.  Review their updated resume and portfolio with them and explain how to make the most of these assets in a job interview.

5.  Schedule a farewell meeting with a top executive.  Before the intern leaves, speak to your top executive about having a brief meeting with you and the intern.  The executive should be informed about the contributions the intern made before the meeting.  You should also coach the intern on basic business protocol before the meeting.  This is an opportunity for the top executive to thank the intern and impart any quick words of advice, and the chance for the intern to also say thank you and collect a memory for a lifetime.  Don’t forget to bring a camera!

6. Connect through social media.  If you haven’t had this discussion, now may be a good time to explain the business etiquette of social media.  For example, interns and supervisors do not usually connect on Facebook.  However, you can safely encourage the intern to connect with you on LinkedIn, and you can offer to review their LinkedIn profile and make recommendations.  You can also encourage your intern to “Like” the company Facebook Page, subscribe to the company YouTube Channel, and follow the company blog and Twitter account.

7. Take some photos.  I mentioned taking a photo with the chief executive but make sure you also snap a few pictures (with your camera or the intern’s) of them sitting at their desk, posed with employees in the office, in front of the building, at their farewell lunch, working on a project, and even of work samples.  Email them the digital files.  These photos really come in handy for updating social media profiles and for use in job interviews, and they will become a treasured memento for the interns.

8. Ask the intern to write an article about their internship experience for the company blog.  The summary they wrote for you (in tip #1) and the photos (in tip #7) will make for a meaningful blog post that will make the whole company feel good, and will encourage quality interns to apply for your next internship offering.

9. Write a brief thank you note (handwritten) on your personal stationery or a card.  Yes, you will have already written the letter of recommendation on company letterhead.  But that is directed to a future employer.  You should also thank the intern personally.  This is another item that will become a memento for the intern.  If you give the intern this note a week in advance (say, at the end of the day on the Friday before their last week), it may also prompt him or her to write a thank you note to you, which is great business etiquette training.

10. Provide a parting gift.  What you give the intern as a parting present depends on your budget, their contribution, and how many interns you have.  If you have a small budget, you might gift them with some company imprinted items you have on hand, or a business card case.  But if the intern was really outstanding, and your company has the budget, one especially significant gift is to give them their first professional membership.  Professional associations usually discount their membership fees for young professionals.  So, if you would like to do this, you can discuss the options with your intern, have them complete the membership application, and then issue a check to the organization for their first year of membership.  Some suggestions: Washington Women in Public Relations ($40 for college students, $85 for regular membership) or the Public Relations Society of America ($155 for applicants with two or less years of experience).

What ways have you found to thank your public relations interns?


About Mary Fletcher Jones

Mary Fletcher Jones is a mom, teacher, and blogger. She is also the creator of "Living Well With Autism," an online resource for caregivers of children, teens, and adults with autism and related special needs.

Posted on July 27, 2012, in Public Relations Tips, Social Media in the Workplace and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.


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