At the end of July, I went to my 10-year reunion with my fellow NPR Summer Interns. I have already told this story about this group many times, on my blog, that this was the best class ever. We met at the new NPR headquarters, took the tour at the new place, shared our favorite stories, what were doing today and what the other interns, who couldn’t come, are likely doing today.
The one thing that struck me at the reunion was that we were a cohesive group with close to 50 interns and some paid to go to D.C. for a couple days for this event. When we took the tour and asked the current staffers, they were taken back that we were still follow-up with each other for the past ten years. For some staffers, who were previously NPR interns, they didn’t have the connection with their intern class in the later years.
The reason why my group was that connected and the more recent interns are not as connected with their group is actually in the changing of the NPR’s structure and mindset. It was around 2008 when they had layoffs and NPR had to change in some of the ways. A few years later, NPR eliminated Intern Edition from the internship program and have interns focus on their own departments and have get-togethers at their own time.
What made my intern experience about NPR was not my own HR department, because I knew I was going to learn about the inner workings of the HR department (and unions), but it was Intern Edition I learned about other people’s jobs of how to produce a news segment, what stories individuals want to share, and other inner workings in journalism and other departments.
This is how I feel about most internships in most companies: they’re just learning about the job, which is fine, but you want your interns to know how the business works. Knowing the inner workings gives the interns ideas to turn to their current or new employer. It is also important that in your internship program, the interns get to know one another and have a “semester” project to do. These will create not only memories, but a kinship that can carry for years to come, if you (company and individual) allow it.