In the first part of this series "Where Can I find a Digital Asset Management Intern?" we looked at not only where you could find an intern but also what the intern can do for your organization and ground rules for having an intern. In this post we'll continue to look at the ground rules -- there are many. 

Ground Rules for Having an Intern

  • Interns are temporary workers. Some internships treat the interns just like regular temporary employees with few benefits and expect just as much from them as other employees or contractors. On rare occasions, IF an intern excels well beyond expectations and IF there is room for them within the organization and IF there is budget for them, the intern may be offered a junior position after their internship.

    Do not hold your breathe though, but if the intern is interested, they should discuss it toward the end of their internship. The internship can be a stepping stone for the intern. Again, think mutual benefit and value. This is not about adding a line on the resume/CV after watching reruns online or playing games while "working." You can do that at home on your own time.

  • Interns are not there to fetch everyone coffee or tea on an hourly basis. If an intern gets any coffee, they should be drinking it themselves. Do not be a lazy slave driver. Invest in a good coffee machine.
  • Interns are not there to spend most of their time making photocopies, stuffing envelopes nor fax all day long. Using ancient technology teaches the intern nothing. Not even patience. What is next? Typewriters? Dictating replies to your emails? There is software for that now. Learn how to use resources and interns in a non-wasteful manner.
  • Do not have "sexual relations" with an intern (whether you work in the White House or not). Do not abuse your position. Professionalism is still required from everyone. We all know some who try to sleep their way to the top.
  • Bad interns may not show up often nor on time nor will they put much effort into completing any of their work. There is a maturity factor involved here, but it may not all be tied to age alone.
  • Some people still value having a work ethic for themselves and with their fellow co-workers. This is not overrated and can get noticed.
  • Signing on a junior, senior or recent college graduate may yield a more experienced, skilled and mature intern, but that is not a guarantee.
  • Set requirements and expectations early on, before the internship begins (during the interview process) so there are less surprises for all. An intern may come with tremendous energy and excitement toward experiencing the real working world. Encourage them both positively and realistically.
  • Do not bore the intern. Have enough work for them. Keep them busy with real work. Challenge them. Not with useless busy work.
  • Allow them to learn. They will not get everything right. Point out these learning experiences calmly (as needed) in case they miss those points. Yes, they could fix their errors themselves with some guidance.
  • Be flexible when using the interns' skill sets/knowledge to help your organization.

When Should I Start Looking for an Intern?

The best time to look for a summer intern is the beginning of the year. Yes, six months ahead of time would be planning ahead so you have the time to actually get applicants, review applications and interview potential candidates for the internship(s). Fall or Winter internships are not unheard of either, but start looking for them early. DAM interns do not grow on trees.

Have them commit to a specific time frame, such as three months. Within that time frame, set a minimum number of days per week and a minimum number of hours per day, otherwise the internship will be more trouble than it is worth for all parties involved. If an intern comes in one or two hours per week, this hardly justifies your time spent finding them nor their commute.

On occasion, you may even need to set a maximum time commitment as well or they may start living in your offices seven days a week. Real world experience is what they crave, so do not deprive interns from this if they made the cut to stay and learn.

Where to Find that Who

While some job boards have some internships posted, this is not necessarily the best place to get interns with a particular educational background. I would recommend researching the top schools / colleges / universities which have the right programs.

In the case of Digital Asset Management, the top schools with digital librarianship and information science programs can yield the basic skill set you are looking for. Why? Because they love to catalog and sort things like digital assets.

That is likely a need for your organization and a want from them. Name me another group who gets excited about that? Not many. Who else are you going to find whose heart rate increases in excitement when you tell them there is metadata to find, sort and match to respective digital assets? This is not a bad trait to have.

Be careful not to mistaken physical cataloging like traditional librarians with digital cataloging of assets. Many librarians who are paying attention to the job market are noticing the shift from physical cataloging to digital cataloging, but they need to learn new digital skills. Those in schools where these skills are taught are key.

Otherwise, it requires enrichment outside of school which is highly recommended to move beyond the theory and into practice itself. The fact that many library schools do not teach digital librarianship and information science today is a really big issue which I hear many students complaining about, but that will be addressed later in a future blog post.

Here are the best places to post internships to actually find the interns you may want and need:

  • Some professional associations have online job information banks available which may take internship postings as well.
  • LinkedIn Groups with specific interest in "Digital Asset Management" are a great places to post if they have a large member base.
  • Post internships within the networks of the top schools in your region or in the country. Contact the school itself and find out how to post internships on their listserv or online internship database.
  • Some Meetup groups have internship postings, but this only works if there are many members.

What NOT to use an Intern for

There have been a few postings for internships at a couple organizations who were looking for unpaid interns to implement their Digital Asset Management system. I could write a novel on how many ways that will fail. Common sense will tell you that a) I do not need to write much more about this provided you are thinking beyond a budget discussion and b) realize what you are asking them to do.

Even if you have the most talented intern ever seen, how long will they be there? 10-12 weeks or about 3 months is common for many internships because they are temporary workers. They are often far less experienced as well. As mentioned before, DAM is not a temporary task. It should not be a temporary, unscalable solution either. DAM is far more than software and storage.

Consistency and continuity are key things to remember when implementing a DAM, but these are not really options when using interns. Especially if they are cycled in and out every few months.

When implementing a DAM, it takes a large effort from many parties within an organization to understand and decide across multiple layers of options. There is no "out-of-the-box" COTS DAM for an entire department or organization ready to use as soon as you pay for it. If you think you found an off-the-shelf DAM, you are likely looking at an image/video/audio browser. Not a DAM. Otherwise, someone is lying to you.

Having an intern (who is usually at the absolute bottom of the organizational chart, as if they were even plotted) try to focus the scope, work on requirements/expectations, keep schedules, maintain budgets and discuss this with the highest ranks within the organization to get sign off for decisions is not likely going to happen. Decisions need to come from top down, not bottom up, anyhow. Otherwise, we invite scope creep with open arms, instead of any completed project.

Feedback on DAM is needed as well, but if an intern is there for 12 weeks, there will be little time to collect, process, analyze or do anything useful with this feedback or testing.

Where do you find your Digital Asset Management interns?

Editor's Note: Need to learn more about DAM? Read Henrik's What a Digital Asset Manager Needs to Know