Who chooses to be an intern, and why do they do it? The assumption is that interns are college students in the middle of their studies, looking to get some work experience, or people who have just graduated looking for a foot in the door, but this is not necessarily the case.
Coming to Israel on an internship programme has shown me that this stereotype is not what interning is about. The variety of people on the programme that I am currently on, range from the stereotypical college students, to thirty year olds looking for a career break or looking to try something new. Working for free is extremely daunting for anyone, but what I am now beginning to understand, is that interning is a two way street, both for the employer and the intern.
I chose to come to Israel with the ‘Oranim’ five month internship programme. For me, coming to Israel was for a “productive” break. At 23 years old, I had spent the last 4 years studying, so with an undergraduate degree, a Masters degree, and 9 months of being in a job, I wanted some time out to live and work in a different country. This, I hoped, would give me a new perspective to the working life I was about to endure it for the rest of my life!
I started out on my Israeli internship with a focus that is completely different to where I currently am. I came to Israel wanting to feel as if I had helped someone, so I focused my “internship” around working with under privileged children. Unfortunately, my internship advisor couldn’t find anything to fit what I was looking for, so suggested I take a different approach. On reflection, this was possibly the best things that could have happened to me.
My first interview was for a company called Rounds. It was love at first sight. The company had everything I was looking for in order to change my perspective on interning and working in Israel. The internship that was set out was structured, yet had the ability for me to be creative, which was something I was desperately looking for. Having worked in the UK for several years, the working lifestyle is extremely different to that in Israel. The working day itself is different, the environment is more relaxed and vibrant, and everyone works as a team.
Working As A Team
At ‘Rounds’ they understand the value of an intern. If I’m going to be honest, my idea of what an internship would be is similar to that at home, which would include shadowing different people within the company, and making tea’s and coffee’s! Here, that couldn’t be further from the truth. As soon as I became an intern at Rounds, I became part of the Rounds team. I had my own set of daily tasks to complete, as well as my own individual projects that I could take ownership of. For someone who has no experience in marketing, being thrown in at the deep end could be considered extremely daunting. Not at Rounds. With constant support from all the team, I couldn’t feel more comfortable suggesting new ideas and giving my opinion about the future of the company. The idea that an intern is the lowest of the low in a company is not the attitude that this company adopts. They value every member of the team, no matter what position they are.
Recently, I completed a Masters Degree in Human Resource Management, and my thesis was focused on employee engagement. This company’s work ethic and values would be a key example of how to engage employees in the workplace. I have studied a vast amount on the effects of successful employee engagement strategies, yet never been in a company whereby you can clearly see its effects, until being in the Rounds environment. A great example of this is that every Thursday the whole team (including the interns!) meet in the boardroom to discuss what’s been going on in each department that week. To make this more of a team experience, add some great food, delicious deserts and some hilarious banter, and you get a Rounds Thursday lunchtime meeting, that no-one wants to miss. As well as all the treats and fun, it is an excellent way of bringing the team together to discuss any problems, voice any concerns, and praise the successes of the week. By doing this, everyone feels valued by the company and feels that they are responsible for its success.
Having worked at Rounds for the past two months, I have learnt new things that I don’t think I would have learnt in any other internship, which is purely down to the dedication that the marketing director puts into her interns. Natasha respects and appreciates all of her interns, no matter what their ability or past work experience. I came to the company with a fairly good understanding of the social media world, but with her help she has enhanced my social media and marketing knowledge greatly. Natasha gets new interns every couple of months, and to this day I am still astounded by her patience. As interns come and go, she repeats her cycle of teaching the ways of Rounds, and understanding the capability of each intern, so she can create new projects that will benefit the marketing of Rounds and stretch each intern. Sometimes I wonder what it must be like for the permanent employees at Rounds, constantly seeing new faces around the office, as the turnover of interns is extremely high. Not once, have I felt that they look at me any differently to the person they sit next to everyday.
Interning – A Two Way Street
As previously mentioned, I believe that internship’s are a two way street. As an intern, I have been welcomed into a new working environment, gaining a valuable insight into a typical Israeli work life. In addition to this, I have been able to immerse myself into a whole new career path, now looking seriously at continuing working for a marketing department (something I never thought was an option.) With the help and guidance received from Natasha, and her offering to teach me as much as she can, I feel that I have gained an extremely valuable internship, learning more than I may have done in the first two months of a “real” job.
So, for me, I know that I have gained a vast amount from being at Rounds, but what does Rounds gain from bringing foreign interns into their company every couple of months? This is something that I never really understood until now. For some, it is time consuming, and interns can be unreliable, mainly because they are working for “free”, and their responsibility levels are perceived as low. Nevertheless, the value of an intern, especially for a start-up company like Rounds, can be seen to be advantageous. By inviting a constant flow of interns with various working backgrounds to the company, it allows for fresh, new perspectives, both on the product and for the company itself. In addition to this, by helping an intern gain experience, an employer is also benefiting, by having work done at little or no cost.
From an Interns perspective, I want to help the company to the best of my ability, because of the time and effort that company has put into me. I feel appreciated for the work that I do. The time span of an intern is short, so for an employer to gain the most out of the Intern experience, my recommendations would be to use your Intern wisely!
As I approach the end of my internship at Rounds, the transformation over the past two months is incredible. I arrived in Israel looking to meet new people, experience new things, and just learn more about the Israeli culture. I am currently looking to continue my stay in Israel, searching for jobs in the marketing department. I have achieved everything and more that I wanted from doing an internship in Israel. I would definitely say I have become a more “rounded” person!