When we start looking for a new intern to work at our 11-person public relations firm, we’re not looking for someone who can answer the phones, make coffee and send the occasional press release to the media. We want someone who already knows the basics of good writing, has a knowledge of how social media works and is eager to learn more.
Our internships are advertised as lasting the summer or a college semester, but we’re really looking for students who can be with us six or even nine months, and who might have the ability to join our staff as an assistant account executive once their internship ends. In fact, we don’t even call our temporary staff members “interns” — we call them “student practitioners,” because we expect to incorporate them as full-on, contributing members of our team from the day they walk in the door.
Focus on the Long Term
This focus on the long term is good for our student practitioners, our clients and our company. Our clients don’t have to worry that someone handling their social media posts or responsible for lining up media to attend their news conferences will be out the door just as they’ve developed an understanding of the client and the client’s needs. Our student practitioners get a lengthy immersion in a busy public relations agency, giving them time to polish their skills ahead of graduation. And Martin Waymire gets top-notch students willing to learn and become part of our team.
That’s one reason talent development is an important part of what we do. We want to help young adults develop their skills, and encourage them to stay in Michigan. We also find that a lot of our student practitioners are not very familiar with downtown Lansing until they come to work in our office near the Capitol. To remedy that, we like to do fun things such as holding weekly summer staff runs/walks along the Lansing Riverwalk and attending Lansing-area events such as concerts and running events throughout the year.
It’s also why we see it as our responsibility to not only teach — and show — our student practitioners the best practices in public relations, but the ethics involved. When we say one of our core values is “winning with balance,” it means we aren’t out to win at all costs. The ethics of our profession — honesty, transparency, accuracy and fairness —guide our actions at all times, and our student practitioners see that every day.
Making Michigan a Better Place
We also want to give the young adults who join us a chance to make Michigan a better place. That goal has guided Martin Waymire since its inception more than a decade ago, and it’s a culture that attracts Millennials looking for a purpose in their work beyond a paycheck. We work hard to push the real-world actions that improves lives, whether getting lead-tainted drinking water lines replaced in Flint or spreading the word about the importance of vaccinations. Are students interested in holding internships at companies where they can make a difference? Looking at the quality of the student practitioners we attract to Martin Waymire, it’s clear the answer is a resounding “yes.”