For many students, Project Intern will represent their first work experience with a real Employer. Therefore, it is important that each of you understand your rights and responsibilities, when engaging on a Project with an Employer. One of the first things you'll discover throughout your experience with Project Intern is that Employers come in all different shapes and sizes. Some are extremely demanding; while others are more nurturing. This dynamic is indicative of exactly what you will see once you get out in the real world. That is why we believe Project Intern is an excellent tool for preparing you for the business world that you are about to inherit.
While Project Intern is generally, a neutral party in the process, our mission is to assist students in becoming well prepared for the business world. As such, we have taking the liberty to provide you with keen insight, as to how your experiences can be more productive and fruitful for both you and your prospective Employers. What's important to note is that the key objective for all Employers (through Project Intern) is to receive high quality, timely and professional results at exceptionally low costs. Thus, their value proposition is "low cost" and, the Interns' value proposition is, "earn while we learn."
With that said, our staff has developed a list of considerations, or "Rules of Engagement" as we like to call them, for Interns to take into account prior to and during the engagement process with Employers. While you are not obligated to adopt these rules, they are considered best practices and will likely result in the most effective virutal internship.
Complete Your Student Profile. Your Student Profile is the key to your being successfully evaluated by prospective Employers. In order to be identified by Employers in Project Intern, you must complete the Profile.
Have Integrity. First and foremost, it is important that you depict yourself accurately to prospective Employers. Do not overstate or understate your capabilities. A savvy Employer will be able to quickly see through inconsistencies. This could result in you missing out on opportunities, receiving negative ratings and / or forfeiting compensation. A key component in having integrity is ones' ability to be honest with himself. Clearly, we all have some ability to "fast talk" our way into certain situations. However, being able to perform in those situations is what sets us apart. Individuals that lack integrity, invariably become exposed and, in today's business world, the lack of integrity could result in irreputable damage to ones' personal reputation.
Most of the Employers that we've interviewed genuinely want to play a role in helping students gain valuable experience that will translate into successful long-term career opportunities. They understand the limitations of the Interns participating in this program. Their main expectation seems to be that Interns approach their Projects with a great deal of respect and, that they put forth a 100% effort in delivering results.
Understand the Engagement Process. Employers will seek qualified interns utilizing two methods provided under Project Intern. The first is called the "Fish" method. Under this approach, Employers will prepare a comprehensive Project Profile for prospective Interns to review and consider. If the Intern is interested, they can immediately post for one or multiple Projects, simultaneously. The Employer would then receive notice of the Interns' interest and can quickly download their Student Profile, as well as any attachments. The second method is called the, "Find" method. Here, the Employer can discretely search for Candidates that meet a specific set of criteria. In either case, the Employer will notify the successful Intern(s), generally by e-mail.
Use the Milestone System. With each Project Profile, Employers are encouraged to set Milestones for each component of the deliveriables to be received. Milestones are not only an effective way for Employers manage performance, but they also serve as reference points for Interns in accruing income. Employers who set Milestones should follow each one with a Review Milestone. These Milestones provide Employers with an opportunity evaluate the quality of the preceding Milestone and, facilitate any necessary revisions. Note: Some Projects may only require one Milestone, which is the final deliverable. The Milestones fall at the end of the Project Profile and, should be viewed as a contractual agreement between the Employer and the Intern. Once the Employer makes the Project Profile eligible to be reviewed by Interns, it can not be changed. The Intern should be careful about performing services that fall outside of the scope of the Project Profile. Doing so could mean a loss in income and time for the Intern. Our advice for you is to simply be aware, such that you are not taken advantage of. You should never feel pressured into performing unagreed upon services.
Do Not Overextend Yourself. Interns are generally limited in the amount of time they have available each week. Therefore, it would be impractical to expect them to complete a 40-hour project in one week. Carefully evaluate Project timelines to ensure that they will conveniently fit into your academic program. Always make your education a first priority.
Non-Disclosure Agreements. Sometimes, Employers will require you to execute a Non-Disclosure or Confidentiality Agreement. These may also include, what's called a Non-compete clause. These agreements are SERIOUS. Employers use them to protect their intellectual property. Generally, these agreements are covered by the laws set forth by each state and even internationally. When asked to sign one, you should read it very carefully. Have an attorney, parent or someone experienced in understanding these documents review it on your behalf, first. Most Employers will not hand over sensitive materials prior to you signing. As long as you are able and willing to abide by the agreement, there should be no concern in you signing them.
Communication. One of the most effective means of communicating with Interns during Project periods is via e-mail. Depending on the sensitivity of the information being shared, e-mail is the most economic means of sharing data. For more secure communication on Projects containing sensitive information, we recommend utilizing on-line collaboration tools, such as Intra Links (www.intralinks.com). This application enables the team to log into one of the most secure sites available on the internet to exchange files, share calendars and share information. To see a list of additional on-line collaborative tool providers, click here.
When it becomes necessary to communicate via telephone, particularly long distance, we recommend utilizing some form of Voice Over IP (VoIP). Many VoIP providers offer free services anywhere in the world. One of the most prominent providers of free, global, VoIP is Skype (www.skype.com). Skype is requires registration for all users, but allows its registered users to talk free, anywhere in the world, over the internet. The Employer and the Intern will only be required to obtain a set of headsets so that they can hear and be heard by each other.
The main thing is that you communicate with the Intern. Remember these individuals want to please you, but in doing so, will at times require more hand holding than the average employee or contractor. It is important that you check in when them consistently and encourage them to do the same. This is a vital skill-set that you will be able to help them to develop. Knowing what their doing wrong or right goes along way towards building their confidence level and ensuring that the overall experience is mutually beneficial.
Avoid Unethical and Illegal Project Assignments. Project Intern will do its best to try and identify unscrupulous Employers and have them removed from the system. However, many will still make it through. Unethical projects will be those considered "morally' wrong, but not necessarily illegal. While the concept of morality may vary from person to person. We suggest that you use your best discretion in this matter. Consult with a faculty member at your school or your parents, if you are unable to determine whether a project is ethical or not. Illegal projects should simply be avoided at all costs. You envolvment in an illegal project could land you in jail or worse. The legal nature of a project may vary from state to state or country to country; however, when in doubt, just move on to the next project. If you identify that a project listed in Project Intern appears to be unethical or illegal, please contact us immediately.
Evaluate Prospective Employers. Prior to taking on any project assignment, we encourage you to conduct a thorough assessment of the Employer. Visit their website, e-mail or, speak to the Contact Person, in order to gauge their credibility. We have also established a communication link, where students can view blogs or enter chat discussions to gain information on Employers.