The arrival of COVID-19 forced change on every business in the world. For KCIC, it meant having a remote internship for the first time ever. We wrapped it up about a month ago, and we believe it was our most successful internship yet. Our program is designed with the goal of offering a full-time position at the end of the summer, so it was imperative that we did all we could to foster an environment where the interns got to know us and we got to know them.
For this post, I want to take some time to reflect on what made this internship so successful as it is my hope that we build off these elements for future programs (though hopefully those won’t be done remotely!).
KCIC has always provided a valuable training program at the start of the internship. So, what made this time so effective? Speaking with consultants and the interns, what stood out to me was the support the interns received from the consultants (the teachers) and the concerted effort KCIC’s Training Team made to engage the consultants in the planning process, well before the interns arrived at KCIC. There was a palpable determination and desire to provide our interns with the best training possible, regardless of any obstacles that may come with remote work. So, paradoxically, I think working remotely actually contributed to the determination of our teachers!
The result was a team of consultants that felt invested in the training program, which translated into high-quality training presentations and materials. This fostered the development of quality relationships between the consultants and the interns. After all, the first interface the interns have with KCIC is during the training program with the consultant teachers - it certainly set things off on the right foot. I spoke with the interns at the conclusion of the internship and they said that the training program provided them with the foundation required to be successful on their client teams.
Many weeks before the arrival of the interns, management discussed what the internship experience should look like from a staffing perspective. Top of mind was to give the interns an experience that provides them with awareness of as much of the firm’s work as possible. With only 8 weeks in the internship, it is a balancing act between staffing interns on several projects and not spreading them too thin.
As the summer went on, we were in regular communication with both the managers of the teams and the interns to ensure that all was running smoothly; that is, interns were getting a valuable experience and not feeling over-staffed. The benefits of the weekly check-ins were twofold – one, we were able to make adjustments quickly in response to perhaps a large deliverable coming up or a lull in workload and two, on a personal level, it showed the interns that we care about their experience at KCIC.
As we conceptualized the internship, a major component was to provide a meaningful experience. It was important that the interns were able to contribute to deliverables, acquire technical skills, and generally be present to see what it is like to be a working professional. That means being an active participant in internal meetings and listening in on client calls. We wanted them to be able to return to school with tangible skills and experiences to help lay a foundation for them as they enter the workforce after their senior year.
To cap off their summer, the interns presented to the firm on asbestos filing trends, derived from data they had been analyzing throughout the summer. I spoke with several consultants after the presentation and everyone found it insightful and impressive that the interns were able to not only analyze a complex dataset but speak eloquently about their findings.
The interns also co-authored blog posts here and here about the asbestos filing trend data! This was an excellent opportunity for the interns to share with KCIC’s contacts useful insights into the data they had been analyzing – never too early to start building a personal brand!
Every summer we hold both an intern welcome and send off event. While that wasn’t possible with everyone working remotely, we still wanted to provide opportunities for interaction among the consultants so that we could get to know the interns and the interns could get to know us.
Over the course of three days during their first week, the KCIC Social Team organized a round of 10-minute sessions where the interns were grouped with three to four consultants and then moved onto another group. It sounds like a lot, but it was such a great way for the interns to get to know us in kind of a ‘speed dating’ format. As the summer went on, there was no one in the company whom they had not met.
We also integrated the interns into our ‘Small Groups’ which are groups of 8-10 employees that meet regularly to discuss firm-related topics. Small Groups have representation from all areas of the firm, from consultants to administrative professionals to our technologists. Therefore, they provide the interns with a cross section of what KCIC is all about in a more relaxed setting.
Lastly, each Friday, the interns would meet with a Vice President or Senior Manager to discuss a particular topic. For example, Nancy Gutzler spoke about her experiences providing expert testimony, Elizabeth Hanke presented on forecasting, and Carrie Scott discussed the evolution of our technology capabilities. Like the Small Groups, these were opportunities for the interns to get to know us and to learn something along the way directly from KCIC’s experts.
We were all very happy with how the internship came together. From training, to staffing, to the meaningful contributions they made on their teams, to the integration of the interns socially, the summer was full of opportunities for the interns to grow as professionals as they got to know us. We all look forward to taking the ingredients that made this summer so successful and incorporating them into future internships!
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Robert Parrish is the lead on custom solutions projects where he provides clients with product development, product maintenance, reporting and support. From requirements gathering to data migration to the creation of the user interface, he works with clients to create innovative solutions to address the client’s most complex problems.Learn More About Robert