Your Advice? Communications Projects for Interns

The New InternHere’s a question I get a lot . . . what ideas do you have?

What are some good nonprofit communications projects for interns?

I like projects that are fairly well-defined and that are self-contained, meaning that they don’t necessarily require much additional work after the intern leaves. It’s OK to have them work on ongoing projects, but you have to manage those a little differently so that the work doesn’t get dropped entirely when the person moves on.

Here are a few ideas — please add yours in the comments!

  • Organize your marketing bank – getting all the files updated and organized for staff and volunteers.
  • Ensure that all of your online profiles, etc. are integrated and well-connected. Are there links in the website template to the main social media profiles, and do those profiles link back to the website, etc.? Is the email newsletter sign-up form on your website in many places (or better yet, in the template) and on your Facebook page?
  • Find really good, affordable stock photography for your nonprofit to use in its communications. Think about photos that you could rotate through as your Facebook cover photo, for example.
  • Research the 20 bloggers your organization should be following and cultivating relationships with.
  • Teach! Give your intern 10 minutes at each staff meeting to do a quick briefing on something that staff have “heard” about, but haven’t had time to really think about (like the hottest new social media platform, or a new book that everyone is reading).
  • Analyze your data. Dig into your email newsletter stats, or Facebook Insights, and look for trends that haven’t been uncovered yet.

Here’s a post I wrote a few years ago about giving social media projects to interns (advice still applies today!).

And you might like these too:

10 Social Media Tasks for Summer Interns

How to Recruit and Evaluate Rock Star Marketing Interns

Please share your ideas in the comments!

  • Andrew Garberson

    Long term projects that include a learning experience seem to go over well because they break up the tedious day-to-day tasks and provide a natural conclusion to the internship. Extra points if you give them the opportunity to present their project at a staff meeting on their last day.

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  • Jennifer Polhemus

    Identifying new groups and innovative tie-ins (e.g., asking a local band to play after an evening theatrical performance). Also “owning” the press preview night, with oversight.

  • brenda

    Updating media lists with current beat reporters or media reporters covering your industry/field is always needed and a good intern project.

  • Sally Hartman

    I have supervised a communications intern each summer for 10 years at my community foundation. Each intern has contributed something different. The first intern researched 50 years of recipients of a scholarship that has helped 700 doctors to to medical school (great information that has led to great relationships with them, specialized publications and most recently a 60th anniversary celebration).
    Others have shot and edited videos about our donors and grant recipients, taken photos at events, handled social media postings, written for our publications, etc.

  • RMHC Austin

    I have one or two communications interns during each semester. What started two years ago as a bit of an accident has become a well-developed internship program.

    Our communications interns do tasks across the spectrum: update website; write press releases and sometimes send them out; take and post photos; create or edit video; work with social media; create collateral material for both the development department and the programs department.

    Within social media, we had an intern who helped us launch our blog and created a great framework for us from which we still operate, 18 months later. Interns often write a guest blog post during their time here. Another intern helped us launch our Pinterest boards, and an intern primarily maintains those. Interns post on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. I am the communications manager and am always involved in social media interactions, so the intern is never operating by themselves in a vacuum.

    We depend on interns to help us increase our productivity. We value the opportunity to give them a hands-on inside experience with a well-managed nonprofit. They increase their skills and experience, and we often help them find their first job.

    Jan Gunter, Ronald McDonald House Charities, Austin and Central Texas

  • Margot

    I’ve had marketing interns who have created more of our paper/graphics for invitations, written press releases, blog posts, and event coordination. I haven’t had them post anything although they’ve created content I post.

    I haven’t thought of having them have ownership of some of our test-social media platforms like pinterest, instagram, and google+ -but it’s definitely something to think about.

  • Second Sense

    We have had four interns from several different sources. The approach that works best for us is to assign them a variety of tasks at the beginning to see where their strengths and weaknesses are. We then let them work independently on the areas were they are strong and give them assignments that offer more oversight to improve the areas where they need work. We see the internship as a partnership that benefits us both.

    Our interns have posted on social media, done research for newsletters, taken photos, helped develop our new blog, written press releases, interviewed volunteers and members for articles and posts and updated the website. They have also set up our YouTube Channel and worked on some longer research projects.

  • Judy S.

    We are a small office, with too much to do for the human capital we have. Our ED was quite insistent on bringing in an intern to help share the load. She was great, and I tried to coach her the best I could. Unfortunately, it was very time consuming at a time when we didn’t have much time to spare. Getting her up to date on who we are and what we do took a lot of energy. I feel that she got short-changed in some regards, though coming from a business marketing education, I think she did get to see some of the differences in the nonprofit world, while using some of her business savvy. Being a very task-focussed person, we gave her a project, to help us update our communications plan – in terms of strategy rather than messaging. It was helpful, but I wish it could have been so much more.