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4 steps to a successful internship program

6 min read
4 steps to a successful internship program
Patricia Iordache
June 15th, 2018

Internship programs should be mutually beneficial for both company and young professional. Here’s our unique recipe on how to do them best

Every hire counts at Airtame — especially at this point of growth. That’s why we have a rigorous hiring process for our internship program. We want to find the best raw talent for both our Copenhagen and New York offices, and nurture them to best-in-class young marketers. That’s why we’re open to hiring people from all over the globe and also how we ended up with being more than 30 nationalities across the company.

We love our interns. We can’t prosper without brilliant young minds, and they should feel the same way about spending their time with us. It’s definitely a win-win situation when all goes well. Finding and retaining the right candidates is crucial to our success, because a successful internship program lead to happy hires, both in the outer world of work and, sometimes, right here at Airtame HQ.

It sounds simple, but while hiring interns is one thing, attracting, maintaining and developing the right ones is another. Our investment in the right people is always based on the understanding that we will help them grow professionally, and we simply can’t stress enough how important it is to create a lasting experience.

At Airtame, we’ve tried to optimize the recruitment process — both for our sake and the candidate’s. That’s why we came up with a successful 4-step internship plan that is now a standard procedure for all new Marketing interns.

Step 1: The Intern Recruitment Setup & Process

The first step of the internship is to find and “recruit” young talents to join our team for a 3-month duration. Here’s how we go about the process:

  • Platforms: We “scout” our interns through various avenues including career fairs held at colleges and universities, LinkedIn, referrals, and job postings on Graduateland, The HubGlassdoor and our very own Airtame.com
  • Responsibility: The person in charge of reviewing applications and hiring will be the direct supervisor of the interns so that both the intern and the manager establish a connection from the very beginning.

After receiving the intern’s resume, the supervisor will:

  • Review the resume and reply with a marketing challenge test meant to showcase the English language proficiency and marketing approach.
  • After reviewing the test results, the supervisor will schedule a phone call/Skype interview to get a better sense of who the potential new hire is. We recommend Skype — it works nicely for breaking the ice. During the interview we make sure candidates get a good understanding of the work we do and what’s required of them. We also discuss why they want to be a part of the internship program and culture at Airtame.
  • Depending on the performance at the first stage, the person in charge will schedule an in-person interview with the highest ranking manager from the Marketing department. This interview stage is meant to establish the cultural fit and confirm the selection criteria based on which the intern was chosen.
  • A decision will be made within 2 weeks at the most, and the applicant will be informed and given feedback on it no matter the outcome.

Step 2: The Internship Onboarding Preparation

Hired. Now what?

We get our interns ready by following an extensive onboarding program for the first week. We think this is critical to the success of the internship. Overall, the goal of the onboarding program is to provide the intern with all the necessary skills and tools to be successful on and off the field. The onboarding steps we follow at Airtame are:

  • Announce the new hire in front of everyone at one of our biweekly meetings.
  • Give the intern a tour of the office and set up with desk, screen etc.
  • Initiate them with a burning, yet healthy ginger shot from the coffee shop across the street (it’s a tradition that goes way back to the birth of the company).
  • Introduce the intern to the tools we use: Basecamp, Intercom, MixMax, Slack, etc.
  • Decide together with the intern on a working schedule.
  • Schedule 1:1s with all relevant employees in order to get a better understanding of who does what.
  • Have the intern test drive Airtame.

Step 3: Players in Action — Tasks

Interns often get stuck doing mundane tasks or assignments that are nowhere near their skillset or desired line of work. While we try not to set them up for easy no-brainers, interns should still be open to getting their hands dirty. It’s a balancing act that we’re very aware of.

The first month in the life of a Marketing intern at Airtame consists of:

  • Onboarding and introduction.
  • Attending the monthly and weekly meetings, meeting minutes, monthly reports, 1:1s.
  • Performing tasks and complying with the jointly agreed KPIs.
  • Reporting weekly as well as monthly.

Measuring accomplishments doesn’t just help the company, although that’s certainly part of it. Of course, we get a better sense of our workforce and the tasks at hand, but interns are welcome to use these stats for future purposes too.

Beyond the work, we make every intern feel integrate to the team, whether this means being invited to our social events, or our yearly workathons (last year we visited sunny Corfu). This brings an added sense of togetherness and a flat hierarchical structure, which enables both personal growth and cross-department collaboration.

Step 4: Bringing Home the Win!

Before the interns finish their internships, it’s important for us to recognize their growth and contributions to our company. If by the end of the internship, both company and intern agree, a longer collaboration can be set in motion.

At the end of the internship, we conduct an exit interview. From an HR perspective, this is absolutely crucial. During this interview, the supervisor follows up on the intern’s goals and KPI compliance. Since interning at Airtame can often be conducted as part of study credit, we also make sure to follow up with any university or teacher to evaluate their performance.

The offboarding interview gives us an insight into possible improvements, changes that need implementation and ensuring the overall quality and well-being of our interns. Besides feeling challenged and empowered, our interns should feel satisfied with their time spent with us, and should have had some fun! Even if they don’t stay onboard, they’ve been part of a valuable learning experience that hopefully inspires them going forward.

Finally, we recognize the interns by offering a small token of appreciation as well as a written recommendation.

From the very first day of my internship, it was evident that I would contribute to a meaningful project. My assigned tasks are insightful and play a significant role in enriching the product. It’s an incredible opportunity to shape my practical knowledge because it’s such a vibrant place. This will be invaluable in my future career.

Viktor Zuska, Intern at Airtame

There’s a certain bonding experience going on while interning, which is why many interns get a foot in the door with us. They gain valuable practical knowledge and a chance to apply their academic skills. The work experience gained could very well help reinforce an interest already present for a young professional embarking on the first steps of the career path.

In turn, we get the opportunity to secure top talent early on and a fresh perspective on our work. Having interns onboard energizes our entire workforce in addition to giving us a competitive advantage. Who knows? They might just come up with solutions we wouldn’t have thought of. Internships can and should be invaluable for both parties — and we strive to make it so.

Looking for an internship at Airtame? Apply here. And don’t forget to check out our tips on how to land your dream job.


This piece was originally featured on CPHFTW’s Medium blog.

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Patricia Iordache
Patricia is a Marketing & Partnerships Manager at Airtame. She's a technology aficionado always looking to learn and share relevant insights from within the industry.

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