In order to really avoid the ‘what do I do next?’ problem, here is an awesome list of potential tasks that might be perfect for your interns. This is an excerpt from Whole Whale’s book – The Simple Guide to Building an Awesome Internship Program, now available on Amazon.
This book draws on case studies from Donor’s Choose, DoSomething.org, Idealist.org, Move For Hunger, Women Deliver, The USO and decades of experience of running internship programs. Enjoy!
1. Data hygiene projects
This can range from cleaning and completing Salesforce, spreadsheet, CRM or other databases for stakeholders. Make sure to create a dev copy and avoid letting interns edit live databases.
2. Social media posts and account maintenance
We’ve noted that organizations should guard their voice online. The safest way to have interns participate in social media is to have them analyze the data and then come up with sample posts for the platform. Have your interns take the Whole Whale Be Your Own Social Media Guru course to better understand the theory and analytics behind major platforms – use code INTERNS to get it for free!
3. Social media analytics report
Have your intern review the past year of posts and data from your major platforms. They should answer questions the staff has about performance, give a 30k foot view of what happened, and generate insights about what’s working in a report. For fun, have them also prepare a 30 minute presentation for the organization. Have your interns take the Whole Whale Be Your Own Social Media Guru course before getting started.
4. Meta descriptions and tagging
Interns can be given assignments to clean up tagging and past content on platforms like YouTube or Pinterest which will help discoverability. Writing meta descriptions for main pages on your website is another good task that will help indexing of a website. This is especially easy if WordPress or another simple CMS is being used.
5. Website content SEO clean-up
Have interns use Google Analytics to identify frequently visited pages that have been ignored. Have interns update content with new statistics, research, and internal cross links. This will greatly help the continued SEO growth of those pages. For fun, you can also offer a bounty for any spelling or grammar errors found on the site. Many eyes make for light work. Bonus, have interns take the Whole Whale content marketing and SEO course – use code INTERNS to get it or free.
6. QA and user flow testing
Interns can walk through the main user flows of your website and note where there is confusion. Have the intern map the steps involved so your team can review at a bird’s eye view. Interns are also great for giving feedback on new tools and products as well as subsequently logging bugs.
7. Website content creation
Beyond updating, consider whole new sections of the site that could be researched and created. Again, have interns learn about how to write in the right style for search before getting started.
8. Custom photo stock
This is a fun excuse for an intern to run around the office and any physical sites to take good pictures of work in action. Index and put these photos in a system like Google Photos or Flickr for the organization to use in the future.
9. Business challenge
Challenge interns to create a 10 page presentation that researches an existing problem in the company and pitch practical solutions. For example, a guide on using Minecraft to reach tweens, or a short training on memes or emerging social media platforms the company should be aware of.
10. Handwritten updates
DonorsChoose.org is known for their epic handwritten notes from students. Why not create a similar messaging for the work your organization is doing? Have interns handwrite thank you notes to VIP members of the community.
11. Web analytics reporting
Have interns dig into the organization’s Google Analytics to answer business questions like where are you growing regionally and online over the past year. Have your interns take the Whole Whale and TechSoup Google Analytics course to help them better understand the platform:
12. Google Ad Grant account management
The Google AdWords Grant is part of the Google.com/nonprofits program offering $10k/month in search ads. This grant is a use-it-or-lose-it system making the risk low that an intern will “waste” money. Have them take the Whole Whale Google AdWords Course (free with code INTERNS) to better understand the nuance of the grant management strategy.
13. Plan or support an event or major meeting
A detail oriented intern may be the perfect assistant to a major event. They can refine guest lists, do community outreach, and help with day-of craziness. Or, perhaps there is a backlogged idea of gathering your volunteers for a small appreciation event that an intern can help arrange.
14. Create and design a crowdfunding campaign
This can be done first hand for the organization for a specific initiative. Or, let the intern become an expert that can offer help to members in your community fundraising network (like super customer support for your audience).
15. Super customer support
Most websites have contact us forms that people then slowly respond to. By using a tool like Zendesk, you can set up a legitimate user ticketing and response system, allowing interns to provide enterprise level support for your audience around basic topics.
16. Internal documentation and program FAQ
Have your intern interview the major departments and create a master FAQ and document that explains the different acronyms and concepts that outsiders may not know. This product can then be used for new employees, future interns, and even new vendors to help them get up to speed faster.
17. Organize that neglected online/offline space
Every organization has that room that has become a disaster. The right intern can bring an outsider’s eye to organizing and filing rooms like this. Online file spaces on the cloud also have a tendency to devolve into a mess. With the right oversight, interns can help categorize these files. Be sure to have a backup of your files when giving an intern the ability to modify.
18. Update and benchmark the organization chart
It’s amazing how quickly this can fall out of date. Have your intern review the existing structure and then create a good looking visual with a tool like Draw.io that outlines departments, titles and names. As a bonus you can have your intern then use tools like causeiq.com to see the staffing arrangements of similar organizations. Finding out which positions others in your field have that you don’t can be quite revealing about potential strategies.