Agile internships: A model for future generations
Robert J. Khoury, CEO at Agile Rainmakers, Author of How to Intern Successfully
- 🌎 Rob on LinkedIn
- 🌎 Rob's website: Agile Rainmakers
- 📖 How to Intern Successfully: Insights & Actions to Optimize Your Experience
About this podcast episode
What makes the ultimate internship program? A foundation of dignity, respect, and a crystal-clear vision for victory! ⚡️💯🎯
Today, Bill Raymond welcomes Robert J Khoury, CEO at Agile Rainmakers and author of How to Intern Successfully.
Robert shares years of invaluable knowledge to help you build the best internship program possible. Robert covers everything from finding great interns and providing them with a safe and valuable learning experience to creating lasting business relationships.
In this podcast, you will learn the following:
✅ The underlying principles of a great internship program
✅ Interviewing and onboarding interns
✅ How to define achievable deliverables
✅ Coaching and supporting interns
🎉 Defining a discrete victory for interns to be proud of
Robert J. Khoury: You’re having the interns work with the customer It’s not going to be passed off as Rob Khoury’s work. They’re doing the work, the client knows that and the interns are presenting that work to the client.
Robert J. Khoury: it’s an opportunity for an intern to really shine. you want your intern to experience themselves producing great results.
Robert J. Khoury: You want them to experience winning. You want them to be acknowledged for the work they’ve done, or if not, you want them to, to get that feedback too.
Speaker: Welcome to the Agile in Action Podcast with Bill Raymond. Bill will explore how business disruptors are adopting agile techniques to gain a competitive advantage in this fast-paced technology driven market.
Robert J. Khoury:
Bill Raymond: Hi and welcome to the podcast. Today I’m joined by Rob Khoury, CEO at Agile Rainmakers and author of How to Intern Successfully.
Bill Raymond: Hi Rob, how are you today?
Robert J. Khoury: Awesome, Bill. How are you?
Bill Raymond: I’m doing great. Thank you. And we’re going to talk about Agile internships, but before we get started, could you talk a little bit about yourself?
Robert J. Khoury: Sure. I am a Princeton alum who has a Duke MBA and I spent 21 years in the financial industry, and in the last five years I started a advisory and consulting firm called Agile Rainmakers advising high growth companies. And along the way I chose to hire interns to support the efforts I was up to for my clients and had such a good time doing it that I decided to make it a program.
Robert J. Khoury: And I’ve hired close to two dozen interns in the last few years and decided to write a book about it, and it’s called How to Intern Successfully.
What an internship is and what an internship program is
Bill Raymond: Great. Thank you. And that’s actually how we found you, it’s a very good book. Thank you. Let’s go ahead and talk about the basics first. And I think most people probably know what this is, but I think it would be good if you can ground us in what an internship is and what an internship program is.
Robert J. Khoury: Sure. Well, an intern basically is someone who’s typically in college or in grad school. They’ll work with an organization, whether it’s a firm, a company, a nonprofit foundation for a set period of time. And they will, while they’re working with you, they will take your lead on certain projects or tasks that you assign.
Robert J. Khoury: And as the leader, you’re going to be guiding and teaching them many aspects of the work. And the work could be anything from marketing-related, HR, operations or a mix of all of it, finance, et cetera. So it’s really wide open in terms of what you do with an intern during an internship over a set period of time.
Bill Raymond: And are interns usually going into these programs looking to increase their knowledge for what they’re going to university for, or could they be going for any kind of a role?
Robert J. Khoury: Typically it’s to further an interest that they are cultivating while they’re in college. If they’re interested in, let’s say finance, they may go and work for an investment bank or some other type of financial institution. So that is typically the case, although sometimes it’s exploratory, just learning whether or not they would like consulting.
Robert J. Khoury: And I get a lot of interns who, they’re really exploring. They’re, it’s certainly in their college career. They want to know, would they even like consulting? They’ve heard a little bit about it. And so there’s a bit of that as well. But I emphasize the fact that it’s all open. It’s an opportunity to learn and grow in a different setting with new people, a new place, and new conversations. And that’s a heck of an opportunity to be able to do that.
What does Agile mean to you?
Bill Raymond: I love that you’re giving them the space to do that and we’re going to talk about how you do that in just a moment. But as a typical Agile in Action podcast, a question for you. What does agile mean to you?
Robert J. Khoury: Well, agile means to me the opportunity to take feedback on the fly and adapt to it. It’s the opportunity to really bring a sense of dignity to the work that you’re doing. I came up with a name of Agile Rainmakers because I looked back at my career and I saw that I was able to be a rainmaker for a few different firms, but in different ways.
Robert J. Khoury: And that in different ways is the agile part. So you’re adapting to the circumstances. You don’t step into any situation knowing it all or knowing how it’s going to go. You are wide open, you are looking at feedback and you’re looking to collaborate as part of a team and make decisions on the fly that move projects and initiatives forward.
Robert J. Khoury: That’s what it means to me mainly. I’m not a software development company, but I do know how to pull people together and have them work as a team highly effectively.
How did the internship program start?
Bill Raymond: Yeah, and how did you get into this whole process of setting up an internship program for your organization?
Robert J. Khoury: I’m one of the leaders of the Princeton Club of Chicago and for over a decade we’ve been hosting a summer internship luncheon. We’ve been doing it local, like a restaurant or hotel or wherever we can. And the idea is to invite parents and local alumni who have an internship or know of folks that could provide an internship to a luncheon along with students who are from Chicago that want to intern that summer in Chicago.
Robert J. Khoury: So we do the luncheon over winter break, and it’s an outstanding opportunity for students to network and meet with parents and alumni interested in helping them out in their careers. Out of that event, took me a while, I’m a little slow, but about after about eight years of doing it, I realized, you know what, maybe I should hire an intern.
Robert J. Khoury: And so I did that and got into it and was absolutely blown away by what an intern could do these days and decided to turn it into a program, and now I hire every summer, you know, four or five, six interns to work as a team on various client projects.
Issues that you’ve seen with internship programs
Bill Raymond: I imagine that, as we get into this, we’ll learn how you set that program up. But maybe you could start with some of the issues that you’ve seen with internship programs that maybe weren’t yours, but you’ve witnessed over the years.
Robert J. Khoury: Well, I think the main issue to me is that in a lot of ways, an internship has devolved into a long interview process. And I don’t know that that’s ideal. I think an internship should be a real, mutually-beneficial opportunity rather than just a long assessment or evaluation process.
Robert J. Khoury: ** That’s one thing, I think that’s kind of off. The other is like having these students work overtime. I hear from my interns, they will tell me that other interns are working late at night or weekends, or they’re getting called at 10 o’clock at night to do something. I just think that’s problematic.**
Robert J. Khoury: ** I think that sets the wrong tones for that whole work-life balance and harmony that we all seek in life.**
Not making space or time for an intern
Robert J. Khoury: The other issue is not making space for an intern or making the time for them. Meaning, you know, if you have a set time to speak with them, honor it, you know, be on time, give them that full time and really let them know that you respect them and you care about them.
Robert J. Khoury: And in addition to that, provide guidance. A lot of interns I talk to, they don’t get direction, they don’t get any real training. And I wonder if a lot of internships are really worth it for both the company and the student.
Robert J. Khoury: So those are some of the main ones. I’ve heard cases where favoritism is exhibited by a manager over some interns but not others. That really is also problematic, as you’d say. So, I think what’s missing with any of these internships that don’t really work is some thoughtfulness and some planning.
Robert J. Khoury: And I think if we kept that in mind that would go a long way.
Bill Raymond: Yeah. You know, I’ve been consulting for about 25 years and anytime someone brings me into their organization, they set me up with a desk, which is always nice and they set me up with a computer, which is great. And then they say, all right, let’s get started. And there’s no introduction to their company culture, there’s no human resources program that I can sit in just to sort of understand how people work together. And so you kind of have to figure your way through it as you go.
Bill Raymond: And when I first started, that was a nightmare. I didn’t know how to handle that. And over the years, of course, just learning how to manage through that, I’ve figured it out. But I can’t imagine what that must be like for an intern who this might actually be their first time at a corporate job. And I have seen it. I’ve sat down next to some interns working at the organization and they’re like, well, how’d you figure out how to log into your email? And I’m going, wow, you really got taught nothing, did you? Of course, I have seen organizations where there’s a lot more programs in place, but I would say that very often they kind of go through the same situation that I did.
Robert J. Khoury: Yes they do. And the students say they have a lot of anxiety and what you described is an anxiety-laden situation, which, you know, the sad part of it is there’s a lot of lost time and lost productivity that could be done. These students, they’re ready to, I mean, if they’re coming to intern, they’re ready to go.
Robert J. Khoury: They’re ready to learn and grow, and what they need is they need things like the login ready, the basics. Here’s a little orientation document to help you along, who’s who, what’s what, where are things, to make them feel comfortable. A lot of times that’s not there. And a lot of times, you know, what they’re going to work on isn’t there.
Robert J. Khoury: I’ve been asked when, with my internship, they have kind of their choice of which projects to work on and I’ve been told, well, I thought interns show up and then you don’t know what to give them. My retort is, and why are you having an internship? Why are you even having them? That needs to change.
Robert J. Khoury: And the days of the interns showing up and we’re not ready for them, those days need to end.
What is the timeline for internship?
Bill Raymond: I’d be interested in understanding what the timeline is for internships.
Robert J. Khoury: I can tell you on my end, my timeline is and I’ll do the interviewing in January and February, and then we will start an intern in June, July. There’s a whole host of timelines for various organizations and entities. I know the large investment banks, they’ll interview by April to intern, not that summer, but the next summer. So every organization industry has their own timeline for when they interview and then when you intern. Mine’s in the summer, June, July, but I know others go the whole summer, there are internships that go a whole semester. And I actually advised a friend who said, Hey, we can’t get interns in here at all. They want to go intern somewhere else. And I said, fine. Hey, why don’t you create a two-week internship, either at the beginning of the summer or at the end of the summer, and that way they can intern with you for a couple of weeks, see what they learn, how they are, whether this is something that’s a fit for them and all that, and then they can go off and do another internship.
Robert J. Khoury: And I’ve actually seen that where I’ve had interns intern with me, and then when we’re done for August, they don’t take August off, they go and intern somewhere else for a month. And you know what, more power to them.
Robert J. Khoury: So, it really is something that you can create if you think about it and think about your needs and you think about the students, things do come together to provide a great internship.
Set of principles to use when you’re going into an intern program as a manager
Bill Raymond: And you’ve mentioned to me that you have this sort of mindset that you use and there’s a set of principles that you use when you’re going into an intern program as a manager. Could you walk us through that?
Robert J. Khoury: I think the main thing is, and there’s a theme in the books I’m writing and, How to Intern Successfully is the first in a series. And the theme is we’re bringing dignity to the internship discourse, okay? We want internships to be thought of as the extraordinary opportunity that they are for everyone involved. The mindset needs to be something like, they’re like a customer of ours or they’re like a client of ours.
Robert J. Khoury: And how do you treat a customer or client? You plan, you spend some time thinking it through. And you make sure that you want to do what you are about to do. You don’t become a lawyer and you don’t want to be a lawyer, you don’t become a doctor, you don’t want to be a doctor.
Robert J. Khoury: So do you really want to do this internship? And do you really, it’s going to take time, it’s going to take energy, it’s going to take mentorship, it’s going to take certain conversations, certain follow ups, all of that.
Robert J. Khoury: Step one is plan for it. Do you want to do this? And the mindset’s got to be like, you’re talking to a young person who very well may end up in your industry and will potentially one day be that client, vendor, your regulator, I mean, you don’t know where they’re going to end up in your industry, that can happen. And by the way, they’re going to be talking about you. They will know who you are and they will talk to others about you. Well, you know what? You want to put your best foot forward in that sense. In a way, you’re planting seeds that you are going to reap later when you have an internship.
Robert J. Khoury: So keep it in mind in that sense. And when we mentioned like the principles for this, I’ve broken it down to certain principles that think I keep my eye on to make sure that I’ve got a great internship going. Those principles are things like transparency and empathy and intentionality and discovery.
Robert J. Khoury: But also key is being generous and being empowering. You want to make sure you have a harmonious environment, where the student, the intern is respected. These are principles where I assert if you think from there you’ll have a great internship and the intern will be so happy that they came and worked with you.
What tasks you’re going to give them on day one
Bill Raymond: I find it interesting when you listed out all of your mindset and your principles, you haven’t mentioned anything about what tasks you’re going to give them on day one.
Robert J. Khoury: Well, that’s well thought out. I spend a few months figuring out what projects to give the interns and making sure it’s at the right level. I’ll work closely with a client to understand what their needs are, what the project would look like, so I curate it so that when they show up, they know what the intention is, they know how it fits into the company.
Robert J. Khoury: The intern will know how the value they create will make a difference. In terms, you know, the task itself, it’s got to be something a college student can do and maybe a little stretch for them as well. But I have them work as a team and as a team they can do far more than any one of them can do by themselves.
Robert J. Khoury: And I think combining all of that together ends up being an extraordinary internship. But a lot of it is the work done upfront. And if I don’t do, or if any manager doesn’t do that work upfront, then the internship isn’t going to go well when it starts a month or two later. You’ve got to do the planning and the thinking and the preparation so that they come in, they can win. If the intern wins, then everyone wins.
Robert J. Khoury: That’s how I look at that.
How do you go through the interview process?
Bill Raymond: Thinking of that upfront work, let’s start at the beginning. How do you go through the interview process? How do you get started?
Robert J. Khoury: Well, the interview is where the relationship starts. In the interview, I have a set of questions that I will ask, and it’s my way of getting to know them really, really well. And I also, during the interview, when it ends, I typically will give them feedback on the interview itself.
Robert J. Khoury: I want to know how they react to my feedback, because that’s going to inform me, if I hire them and they sit with me for a summer and I give them feedback, this isn’t more, more of the interview, it’s me giving them feedback and seeing how it lands for them. Now, I know a lot of folks won’t give feedback during the interview, and I think I understand there are various really good reasons why not to, but I will do that.
Robert J. Khoury: And based on that then I get a sense of who they are. And sometimes I’ll extend an offer immediately right at the end of the interview, right? Why wait if you’re pretty sure that this is a candidate that you want to hire? Or I might say, look, let me get back in a few weeks. And then in a few weeks, I’ve considered it and I’ll get back with either a yes or a no.
Robert J. Khoury: But I think the important thing in the interview process is that again, you are prepared, you have your questions, you’re ready, you’re building a relationship, you’re really getting to know them and understand them and how they might be in an internship. And you are giving them a yes or a no as soon as you can.
Robert J. Khoury: And the days of not never getting back, those days need to end. We need to get back to them. We need to tell them where they are as soon as we know and that will make a difference.
Robert J. Khoury: Now the other thing that is I think a really good idea, is let’s say it’s January 10th and an offer has been extended, they get back by the end of the month and they say, yes, I’ll intern with you this summer. Great. What you don’t want is you don’t want the last time you talked to them be January 10th or January 31st, and the next time you talk to them, June 1st when the internship starts. This is someone who’s about 20 years old.
Robert J. Khoury: Anything can happen in their lives and with them for four months, right? In those four months or five months, anything can happen. So it’s a good idea to say, okay, let’s talk now every six to eight weeks, half an hour. Just want to find out how things are going for you, how are your classes, activities, anything you want to share.
Robert J. Khoury: So we’ll have a conversation every six to eight weeks just to stay up to date, and I’ll share with you what’s happening at my company and what the projects are likely to be when you show up. And now every six to eight weeks you get maybe two or three touches between offer acceptance and start date in June 1.
Robert J. Khoury: But guess what? They show up and they have less anxiety. You have a relationship with them and you understand what it is they’re really interested in and you can have projects that lean in that direction.
Robert J. Khoury: So I think as part of the interview offer process, I think it’s a good idea to look at it holistically and prepare from the beginning all the way through till the start date.
Do interns work with the customer?
Bill Raymond: In your case, you’re having the interns work with the customer and we’ll talk a little bit about that, but that can be somewhat unique. Sometimes an intern will just be working internally within an organization. You’re having them work with the customer. Are you also working with the customer at that time, informing them of who might be showing up and why?
Robert J. Khoury: Absolutely. I didn’t say transparency to be cute. I mean transparency. So whoever we’re working for knows that interns are going to be working on this project or this aspect of the work that we normally do. So there’s transparency there. But beyond that, the interns are going to present the work to the CEO or the founder of the company or the manager, whoever it is.
Robert J. Khoury: It’s not going to be passed off as Rob Khoury’s work. They’re doing the work, the client knows that and the interns are presenting that work to the client. And I’m setting it up. I’m behind the scenes giving them feedback as we check milestones, we check progress. I’m giving them advice on what to do that an executive would expect to see for their work.
Robert J. Khoury: And then I’m also, when they do present, I’m right there observing and providing feedback right after to help them along. So, the process is very transparent and it’s an opportunity for an intern to really shine. Ultimately, that’s what you want, you want your intern to experience themselves producing great results.
Robert J. Khoury: You want them to experience winning. You want them to be acknowledged for the work they’ve done, or if not, if they didn’t do a good job, you want them to get that feedback too. I mean, by and large, I make sure that the feedback will be good because I’ve prepped them and given them correction and all that before they get to a client.
Robert J. Khoury: But sometimes it’s not like that. And the client will say, no, this is not exactly what we’re looking for and we need these adjustments. Great. They’re learning, but they’re in an emotionally safe space to do that with a manager, me, firmly committed to their success and willing to put the time and energy into it so that’s typically how it goes, Bill.
Bill Raymond: I’m curious, how do you onboard the intern? now it’s June and they’re coming on board, what are some of the things that you do?
Robert J. Khoury: Well, I spent an entire month years ago developing what I call, The Guidance document. And this is about a 25-page document, which it’s a living document that we go through the first two days. And in this document I lay out the mission, the vision, the values of our company. I also share about past clients and current clients along with failures and success stories.
Robert J. Khoury: So I just lay it all out. In there I also include the best way to approach a client, what attitude to have. I will give them guidelines on the kinds of behavior that we want. And believe it or not, with the students today you got to let them know certain things.
Robert J. Khoury: One of the basic things would be like, you know, if you’re going to shake hands with a client, you don’t do it sitting down. You stand up and you shake their hands. That can happen, where a client will enter a conference room, they’re seated, and they want to shake hands while they’re seated rather than standing up.
Robert J. Khoury: It is the simple stuff to you and I, you know, like saying thank you at the end. These are all laid out so that there’s no ambiguity, no no like, hey, I didn’t know. It’s all laid out so that they’re clear. This is how we operate here, this is our culture. We discuss the attitude, we discuss the approach and go through it over the course of a couple of days. And they get to make any changes or edits to it because it is a living document. I wanted that to be their own. And I want everyone to be aligned as a team within those first couple of days. So that’s how the onboarding starts, going through all that.
Robert J. Khoury: And then they’ll also do some outside training. So I have them do a weekend seminar that’s all about self-discovery and empowerment, and it allows them to go beyond the limits of what they think they can and can’t do. So we do that. And also part of the training is just to introduce them to the clients, so that there’s a little familiarity before we start doing the work. I mean, one of the best things is when those clients introduce themselves and they share how they started their company or their own background or whatever it is that connects them to those interns, that’s vital early on for the intern to be excited about the work that they’re doing.
Robert J. Khoury: So those are the main things that I can touch on there.
Paid or unpaid program?
Bill Raymond: I appreciate that, thank you. I’m curious at this point, you’ve been working with them, you’ve been interviewing them, sharing the updates on your company and then they’re onboarded and you have them go through some training and reading this document. Now is probably a good time to ask this.
Bill Raymond: I feel like this is going to be a stupid question, but I also want to make sure that I fully understand where you’re coming from, because very often I’ve gone into an office and see interns and they’re kind of scraping money together in order to get lunch or what have you, because it’s an unpaid internship.
Bill Raymond: Where do you stand on that? Paying the interns or is it an unpaid program?
Robert J. Khoury: Definitely paid. Pay them. I’ve heard people say, oh, we pay them with experience, we don’t pay them money, we give them experience. Well, experience doesn’t pay the bus fare or for lunch. Pay the interns. I mean, we’re talking about what, two, three months of work, without big time benefits and all that? You could pay minimum wage. It’s something that I’m strongly for. I’ve had people say to me, I’ll work with you for free Rob, and I’ll say, no, no, you are working. You will get paid. That’s how this works. 40% of internships right now today are unpaid. And it’s so pervasive, even the White House up until last year had unpaid internships.
Robert J. Khoury: I think in the fall they started paying their interns. Well, what does that do? Well, there are certain students that that’s not an option. They don’t come from a family where they can afford that sort of situation for a summer where they’re actually paying ultimately, right, for their whatever, wherever they’re staying and their food and transportation, they’re paying basically to intern for free. No.
Robert J. Khoury: I don’t think that’s a wise way to approach it. So our interns are paid and we pay them well and I love every dollar I pay them. I love the opportunity to do that.
Robert J. Khoury: I know I’m different in some ways, I don’t think getting free labor is a good idea and I’ll leave it at that.
Bill Raymond: Well, you know, I wouldn’t be sitting here talking to you as a consultant and being able to spend this time with you right now, had all my clients said, well, we’re going to give you the experience but not pay you.
Robert J. Khoury: Right. Right. It’s ridiculous.
What does a day-to-day look like?
Bill Raymond: So we went through the process of hiring and we went through the process of onboarding. Now, what does a day-to-day look like?
Robert J. Khoury: Well, the day to day is pretty straightforward. We have a meeting in the morning and that’s where we go over our mission and our vision and we look at what’s gone on for us since we last met and what our plan is for today.
Robert J. Khoury: And then in the afternoon, we meet again for about 15, 20 minutes, 30 minutes, whatever it is, and we go over what was the work done during the day and what can we do with the remainder of the afternoon time.
Robert J. Khoury: So, you know, there’s two daily meetings. They’re short, but they’re really impactful because it gets everyone grounded and centered on what they’re going to do and then what they did, what could they do better, and then what they can do for the rest of the day. I’ve learned that around three o’clock, you know, it tend to crash.
Robert J. Khoury: So that’s the perfect time to have a meeting, to kind of pep things up, kind of change the setting a little bit, and then get back to work for that last hour and a half hour and 45 minutes to make something happen in a end of day sprint.
Robert J. Khoury: So that’ll be like the typical day. Once a week there’ll be a one-on-one conversation with me for 20 minutes just to go over how’s the internship going. I have a set of five questions that I go through the same five questions every week, and then after the questions are done, we open it up for discussion and then during the day, work-wise, they’ll work on Excel spreadsheet, a PowerPoint, graph something, analyze something, research on the web, read something and compile it. And then they’ll be on a Zoom call with the client potentially to share some of the work they’ve done. Whoever that client is, could be the founder, the CEO, manager, it doesn’t matter.
Robert J. Khoury: And they will then get some feedback from me about how they interacted. Anything they could have done better, anything they could have been prepared better. And that’ll be your typical day. And then what we also do though, I think which is unique is Fridays are half days because these students are, they’re in college and it is the weekend.
Robert J. Khoury: And you know what, I really think they should enjoy their summers. We have a half day on Friday, and they love that. You get out couple hours early and for a college kid, couple hours early is like giving them a whole another day. And I think that keeps them excited and energized to perform as well as they can during the workday.
What are those five questions that you ask
Bill Raymond: That’s great. Thank you for that. I’m curious, what are those five questions that you ask?
Robert J. Khoury: I have to think of them, let’s see. It would be: How was your week? What is supporting you? If we did a pre-mortem from here, what could get in the way of you having an extraordinary internship? What more can I provide to have your internship be exceptional? And there’s a fifth question slips my mind right now, but it’d be something along the lines of, you know, anything you want to communicate that you haven’t or something like that. But those are the five, roughly those are the five question.
Bill Raymond: Yeah, that’s great. This is very agile-like, because in agile we’re talking about working on iterative development of deliverables. We talk about having daily standups so that we could check in with each other, make sure that we’re going in the right direction and you’re doing all these very similar things.
Bill Raymond: I think you told me you never really thought of it as agile in the formal term that maybe the market uses, you’ve been doing this all along. But it does very much fit into the model that we’re seeing a lot of people adopt.
Robert J. Khoury: It’s a real funny thing, Bill, I didn’t know, I don’t know agile software development, but coming on your show, I did a little reading about it and I was just shocked at how similar it is to what I’m doing, without any software development. So I think it’s testament to the value of the agile methodology and how it can be used, not just with software development, but with people management and project management overall.
Robert J. Khoury: Thank you for naming your podcast Agile in Action and having that be so similar that we’re enjoying this lucky or whatever coincidence that we’re experiencing here.
Bill Raymond: Yeah. Yeah. No, I really appreciate that, thank you.
Wrapping up the internship program
Bill Raymond: The students are working with you, they’re delivering to the client, they’re actually talking to the client, you’re doing these day-to-day and weekly check-ins with the students. Now it’s time for them to wrap up. We’re getting into July or August, whatever the time period is where they’re wrapping up.
Bill Raymond: How do you start to wrap that internship program up for the students?
Robert J. Khoury: Well, we take our time. We start to wrap up the internship about three weeks before it’s over. We’ll have a meeting and we’ll go over the status of all the projects to see where we’re at. And the idea here is we want to get a sense of how much time it’s going to take to wrap everything up and see what we can’t get done.
Robert J. Khoury: Maybe there are aspects of things we just cannot, we don’t have the time to do and get in communication about that. Communication is the answer. So a client won’t mind if you tell them three weeks in advance, this piece here, it’s not going to get done. But here are all the things we are going to get done. Or, communication with the intern, say, okay, look, you got it all and here’s our plan for the next three weeks. Let’s get it all done. What we want here is we want the internship to end and be finished. I’ve heard of interns who finish but it hasn’t ended or ended but it hasn’t finished. And what do I mean by that?
Robert J. Khoury: Meaning, it may be that it’s ended time wise, like, oh, it’s the end of July, it’s over, but they get a call in August. Where’s that file? Could you explain this thing on the model that you did? Where’s that phone number or you know, whatever it is. No, it’s got to be a clean break. And that’s for not only the student, but also for the employer, for everyone’s mental sanity.
Robert J. Khoury: So I think it’s really important when the internship ends, it is finished. And plan ahead accordingly, in those last few weeks.
Robert J. Khoury: So we do that and during those last few weeks, they’re filling out surveys of how the experience was for them, what they learned, what they got. It’s a real wonderful opportunity to, and for lack of a better way of saying it, just get complete and then move along with their lives to the next thing.
Robert J. Khoury: And one of the things I emphasize is, look, if they want to work on a client project some more after July, no problem. We’re going to take a clean break the first week of August. Don’t call me, don’t email me, nothing, no communication. And then after that first week, we will start something new, some new project. But I want the internship to be a discreet victory for them, a discreet moment in time that early in their career, they know they could do something, do it really well, bring it to completion and everyone was happy.
Robert J. Khoury: I think we all could use that.
Robert J. Khoury: And again, the days where, you know, the internship ended, but it’s not finished because we were cramming the night before and didn’t quite get it done and then it wasn’t exactly what everyone expected. That’s got to end, that sort of situation needs to go.
Bill Raymond: Well, you know, what’s someone going to look for when they look at your resume, right? They’re going to say, what have you done? And your resume is not going to look as good if you say, I sent out emails to customers. It’s going to look a lot much better if you’re in an internship program where you said, I developed this email program to deliver value that can be measured this way for this particular customer.
Bill Raymond: And then you have something that you can put that’s solid on your resume and you can talk about that very proudly.
Robert J. Khoury: Yeah, people want to hear about results. They want to hear you actually did something and there was a result. It’s a totally different thing when you say, Hey, I sent out all the emails, right? And well, then what happened? I don’t know. Well, we want to know what happened with, based on your actions, what were the results produced?
Robert J. Khoury: And the more you can design that in the internship, the better. Because then that’s something for them to be able to go, you know, in their career and say, Hey, look in my resume, this is what I did. I put together alittle, it could be a little code I wrote, you know, not a major project, but I wrote a little code and it saved our client three weeks of time at the end of the year.
Robert J. Khoury: Okay, great. That’s a result. So I like the way you’re talking about it, Bill, because that is the idea here is we want to get, you know, what actions lead to what results and then they can put that down on their resume and move forward in their careers. That is the ideal situation.
Bill Raymond: And you know, this really helps everyone involved, right? Because they’re probably going to go and work in your space anyway, and you’ll probably be running into each other and they’ll be able to look at you and say, you helped me, and you can look at them and say, and you really helped me and this customer.
Robert J. Khoury: Exactly.
What do you hope the intern leaves with after the program is done?
Bill Raymond: So let’s talk a little bit about what you hope the intern leaves with. We talked about how you close out the relationship, and I really appreciated that victory moment that you talked about, making sure that there’s a discreet piece of work that they complete. But other than that, what are some of the things that the student should hopefully leave with after the program is done?
Robert J. Khoury: Well, definitely what you pointed to, which is that sense of accomplishment that they got work done. But what we also want is we want them to leave with a higher level of self-confidence. And I know college can be hard where, you know, your confidence gets shot a little bit. We want to make sure by the end of the internship you’re as confident as you can be in yourself and in your abilities and what’s next.
Robert J. Khoury: We also want them to have a lot of new knowledge where things that they may not have known otherwise, they now know, which is fabulous. And the last thing is a sense of dignity around their career. We want them to know that they are respected and that they matter and that their career is going to be extraordinary because they know that they matter and that they can operate with dignity and power and freedom in their career and in their lives.
Robert J. Khoury: So we want to have that happen, of course, in addition to some great work getting done for either the company or a client.
Robert J. Khoury: And I guess they also get some sort of a reference out of this if they ever need it as well.
Robert J. Khoury: Yeah. And I think if you’re a manager or a mentor, be prepared for that. That shouldn’t be a surprise if you get an email or a call a month or two later saying, Hey, would you write a letter of recommendation for me? Or could you serve as a reference? Build that in, know that that’s coming, that’s not a additional thing later, that’s part of the deal.
Robert J. Khoury: I think the more that’s there, the better. You are signing up for supporting someone in their career growth. That really is what you’re doing when you’re hosting an intern. So take it on fully and do what you are, you know, what everyone sees that you are doing.
Bill Raymond: I appreciate all the thoughtfulness that you’ve put into this program. I guess I’d like to ask if someone’s listening to this podcast right now and they’re thinking about doing an internship program in their organization, what are the things that they should be thinking about?
Robert J. Khoury: I think one of the things that’s key is, you know, if you want to design a great internship, start by putting yourself in the intern’s shoes. Think about who you want them to see when they show up. How would you want to be mentored? What would you want to know, right? And on your end, think about what you want and what you could provide.
Robert J. Khoury: My dream is that, you know, whenever there’s an internship that is accepted, an offer is accepted for an internship, the employer says, great, we’re going to send you Rob’s book, How to Intern Successfully. Please read that book between now and when you start with us. And a lot of things would kick in motion that way.
Robert J. Khoury: So just start thinking about then what resources to give them and how do you set them up so that when they show up, they’re going to do really well, and then while they’re with you, they’re set up to do really well. I’d be thinking about it more from their shoes than from your own, right?
Robert J. Khoury: You know, I’d be thinking about it like, well, we need this done. All right, let’s get an intern to do it. Okay. Well, that’s kind of transactional and that’s not really the future. I don’t think transactional is the future of anything out there. Everything’s more relationship -based, everything’s more thoughtful, you know, if you want to succeed and do really well and go somewhere. So try to think about it more in that sense versus it’s a transaction.
Robert J. Khoury: We have some stuff to do and some intern’s going to come and do it. Well, I’m not a fan of that approach. And leverage some of the principles I mentioned earlier. Just as a side note that I’m working on the second book, it’s just about done and it’s called Intern Management. And in that book we’re going to lay out the principles and how they can be applied to create an exceptional internship, because that is what’s available. That’s what’s possible.
Bill Raymond: Rob Khoury, I really appreciate your time today.
Bill Raymond: Before we wrap up, is there any way that people could reach out to you if they want to talk to you about this further?
Robert J. Khoury: Yes, I’m on LinkedIn, anyone can reach out to me on LinkedIn Robert J Khoury, Agile Rainmakers. My book is prominently displayed there, How to intern Successfully. Always happy to connect.
Bill Raymond: Great and I’ll make sure that your LinkedIn link and also your book, How to Intern Successfully is in the agileinaction.com website. And of course, if you’re in a podcast app right now listening to this podcast, just scroll down to the show notes, the details, and you’ll see the links there.
Bill Raymond: Rob Khoury, thank you so much for your time today. I really appreciate it.
Robert J. Khoury: Awesome, Bill. I really enjoyed this. Thank you.
Bill Raymond: Thank you for listening to the Agile and Action Podcast with Bill Raymond. Subscribe now to stay current on the latest trends in team, organization, and agile techniques. Please take a moment to rate and comment to help us grow our community. This podcast is produced in affiliation with Cambermast LLC, and our executive producer is Reama Dagasan.
Speaker: If there is a topic you would like Bill to cover, contact him directly at bill.Raymond@agileinaction.com