School's out for summer—and that means it’s prime time for interns. While planners can greatly benefit from the abundance of free help practically begging for a shot, it’s also the most competitive time of the year for internships. That means you’ll soon be inundated with a number of emails that you’ll have to sort through and then make tough decisions in choosing the right candidate. Before you get overwhelmed, Milk Studios Events Director Marcia L. Callaghan offers tips on how events professionals can find the right fit and get the most out of the relationship in the short three months before everyone heads back to school.

ILM+E: What are some of the best resources for finding summer interns?
MLC: Referrals are key, though seeking out interns from universities and career centers is also crucial.

ILM+E: As résumés start to pile up, how do you begin to sort through them?
I look beyond the actual résumé and hone in on individuals that know exactly what position they’re applying for and genuinely craft their cover letters to that role. Copy-and-paste cover letters are so transparent and unappealing. Rather, I’m always impressed with applicants who mention a project that I just completed, show what they know about the position and explain why they want to join my team.

ILM+E: What are some of your best tips for working with interns?
MLC: First, find the good ones—they’re out there so pay close attention in interviews. Look for driven, sharp and detail-oriented students who are not only efficient at what they do, but are pros when it comes to multitasking. Then, be sure to give good instructions. You can’t expect someone to accomplish a task in the exact way you want it done without letting him or her know how to do so. Listen to their feedback, questions and ideas. And most importantly, be patient and take on a mentor role by ensuring that they never stop learning from you.

ILM+E: You only have such a short time span with an intern. How do you keep the relationship going?
MLC: We ask our best interns to help us out in the future by freelancing. We like seeing familiar faces. Also, I encourage at least one intern I identify as a leader to stay for the next semester who can then help teach the next group of interns about the expectations and culture. That way, newcomers can get the hang of things and feel comfortable taking on important tasks as soon as possible.

Marcia L. Callaghan is the events director of Milk Studios. She boasts 10 years of industry experience, beginning her career in events management after graduating from the University of Illinois at Urbana- Champaign. Throughout college she founded the marketing department of Illini Media and, after graduation, went on to work with companies such as City Chase and the Gen Art. She has also contributed to Illinois Meetings + Events for seven years.

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