As an association, it’s important to stay relevant, innovative, and invested in the future of our industry. Hiring interns can help an association do just that by helping to bring in a fresh new perspective, provide additional staffing resources, and increase productivity. It also enables the intern to get much needed job experience and mentorship.

Associations of all sizes and industries employ interns to assist with the workload and advance their mission. Interns can take on tasks, freeing time for staff to dive deeper into other work or invest in new projects. Establishing a meaningful internship moving beyond menial tasks to offer interns the opportunity to develop skills, take on responsibility, get constructive feedback, and put classroom theory into practice.


How to Find an Intern?

An internship employs a developing professional or student to work at an association for a defined period to gain experience and knowledge about a particular career field or industry. These can be paid or unpaid positions. Most interns apply for an internship during their studies in a specific field. Internships that provide university credits or are required for graduation are more structured and supervised, leading to strong candidates from competitive programs.

Semester internships are the most common allowing for full or part-time work experience over a three-to-four-month period, while summer internships offer the same opportunity between semesters. Alternatively, Co-op Learning programs typically last a year, requiring students to attend a mix of classes and work.

Interns may be high school, undergraduate, graduate, international students or career-changing professionals. Search for opportunities through local academic institutions and contact them to see if they have an intern or fieldwork placement program.


Benefits of Hiring an Intern to the Association

Understanding how an internship can benefit your association is key. It’s also important to map out how you would like to work with the intern to ensure it’s a positive experience for both. Through an internship, interns will learn about the day-to-day functions of an association, department, or position. In return, they’ll provide cost-effective and additional operational support while infusing your team and association with new energies, ideas, and tactics.

As Strauss event & association management’s Event Manager, I found our recent intern, Jessica Carruthers, helped me to consider and employ new strategies and techniques in the event industry. Jessica’s passion and work ethic also brought a new invigorating dynamic to the team. Missing some critical components of what I learned in my prep process and what I received in return.


Benefits to the Intern

Internships enable students to explore their current career path to see if it’s a right fit through real-world experience. The opportunity to engage in experiential learning in a meaningful way through an internship is imperative for future career success. It allows the student to take classroom theories and put them into actual practice to gain experience and amp up their resume.

As the new intern at Strauss event & association management, this has proved to be invaluable. I’d rather learn about event and association management by attending an event I helped to plan versus just sitting and reading about it. That’s the value of an internship and experiential learning – you actually get to do it!

Through my internship, I gained valuable mentorship from those with extensive experience, and practiced critical thinking and how to apply it to day-to-day operations as we navigated through different tasks or issues. For example, an association is ramping up for an event and wants to take its registration live. Sure enough, there’s an issue around cloning the highly complex and customized online registration webpage used in previous years. As the intern, I was tasked with resolving this issue by rebuilding the customized registration webpage from scratch along with all the particular design requirements and customized logic programming– and quickly. I needed to step outside of my comfort zone, evaluate the situation and look at the bigger picture to see how the issue could be resolved. It was a fast-learning curve, and I worked with new and unknown technologies. Through critical thinking and a supportive team, an intern can learn new ways to adapt and perform during a stressful situation and work with other team members to solve it. This is the power of internship, as it provides real-world scenarios only found outside of the classroom to help interns like me learn, thrive, and problem-solve with confidence.

Another tangible benefit of interning is networking, which most people do organically. The opportunity to network was sidelined for many during the pandemic as internships went remote. As we return to in-person events in post-pandemic life, in-person internships are opening again, allowing students to gain valuable experience alongside great mentors who will be references for future job opportunities.


The Legacy

The cyclical partnership between academic institutions, workplaces, mentors, and interns is invaluable. The continued support of academic programs and institutions by workplaces employing an intern will feed the pipeline of lifelong learning, generating expertise in the workforce for generations to come.

Strauss event & association management proudly partners with the University of Manitoba through their supervised field work experience program. As a leader in the industry, Strauss offers internship opportunities for the next generation of event and association leaders.

Based on my experience with Jessica, Kaylee and Jade and other former interns from our local university, I am confident in this next generation of exceptional, energetic leaders who are now serving in the events industry in their dream roles.