Someone recently asked me again about finding some DAM interns. I have received repeated emails asking where organizations can find Digital Asset Management (DAM) interns for a while now, so here is my answer in the form of a blog post openly shared with all.

First, let us look at the question from the organization's perspective. An organization wants an intern (or a few) to help them do some work with their DAM.

What will the intern do for your organization specifically?


An organization commonly wants an intern to upload assets and/or apply metadata to those assets in their DAM. Sometimes, an employer wants interns to do the work they do not want to do.

On occasion, interns may do the work the organization does not know how to do themselves, but that is rare (good luck guiding the intern to do that and still understand what they are doing... good or otherwise for the organization. Note the switch in roles of teacher and student).

The organization may also need someone to organize, sort and structure their folders and files.

This could involve working on a taxonomy and expanding it. We need to understand the needs of the organization to find who best fits this situation. An intern is an intern is an intern, right?

Not really. If a marketing department of an organization needs some help managing information and metadata with some files, that does not call for another marketing intern. Why? That it is not their core competency. What is the competency of the intern? Hopefully, you are seeking an intern that is more than just a pair of hands and eyes to the organization.

Ground Rules for having an intern

It seems important to set some ground rules when getting an intern to work with you -- some of these rules may seem the opposite of what you think, depending on what your expectations are and what you have heard of about interns in the past.

  • Interns are there to learn. Find out what they want to learn and what you plan to have them do. Hopefully, some of these things will align with each other. If not, expectations will likely be missed as disappointment meets both the organization and the intern. Luckily, a completely unrealistic movie/TV show depicting Digital Asset Management professionals doing highly recognized work has yet to be made, so that will not be problem (unlike the CSI).
  • Make sure the intern is willing to learn and they are actually teachable. If not, keep looking. Listening is key. Asking questions is another good sign. Communication is very important.
  • Interns should be interviewed, at least by phone or video conferencing. Resumes, cover letters and intern applications are just a first set of filters for all applicants on an equal basis so there is not bias from the start.
  • Interns must have a sponsor, mentor or coach within the organization ready to give the intern answers to their questions and give them the needed support. Kind of like a junior employee. Monitor their progress and what work they have completed regularly.
  • Give them feedback. Not just "good" or "bad," but rather what/why something is good/bad.
  • Be specific and detailed enough. Ask them if they have any questions after you explain what is needed in case they need clarifications.
  • Interns will have many basic questions which may seem obvious after working there for N years, but they need answers because they do not know, might not assume to know and they have not been there for N years. If you do not bother to answer these "stupid" questions, you should expect stupid mistakes to be made. If you answer the interns questions in writing (email), you can recycle the question/answer responses for the next interns that come around and the interns can refer to them as a guide. This can lead to the creation of FAQ pages for interns as well as new employees. Try this unless you like to repeat yourself to each intern.
  • Interns are not simply free labor nor are they slaves at your beck and call. In fact, interns may be paid a stipend or paid hourly, depending on budgets. Some organization treat interns like contractors for a fixed term and fixed hourly rate. If they are not paid, it is often expected that someone within the organization will assist them with approving some paperwork so the interns can get respective college credits for this internship work. Unpaid interns should pay nothing to work their as a volunteer. Some organizations reimburse the interns' travel expenses to/from the office if they are unpaid or if they are required to travel. Sometimes, interns get paid and get college credit. Both the intern and organization should value the experience as well as their mutual benefit.
  • Interns from specific, qualified schools may come with specialized knowledge and skills based on what they are studying. Be sure you are looking for the right skill set.

Image courtesy of Aaron Amat (Shutterstock)

Editor's Note: There will be a follow up piece to this article next week, so stay tuned. In the mean time, check out Henrik's Does Your Digital Asset Management Solution Scale?