The one tool that can optimize your intern project workflow

Managing the part-time schedules, varying skill levels and alternating projects for multiple interns can be hard, but adding a single visual management tool to your office can make it simpler.

Enter: the Kanban board.

The board gets its genius from the Kanban system, which communicates the status, nature and context of work all in one physical space. This type of tool is especially valuable for efficiency and workflow because it plays on the natural practice of the brain, which processes visual information 60,000 times faster than text.

Creating a Kanban board in your office serves as a way for interns to map their individual workflow as well as—at a glance—show the team who is working on what and when.

How it started

Although the method has been popularized by Silicon Valley startups in recent years, the Kanban technique stems from a Toyota production system developed in the 1940s. Assembly line workers displayed colored cards to notify workers downstream about demand for parts. Kanban is the Japanese word for “visual signal” or “card.”

Because of the highly visual nature of the method, workers were able to see what work needed to be done and when, as well as take measures to maximize efficiency and minimize waste on the line.

What it is

To create a Kanban board to manage intern projects in your space, hang up a physical whiteboard, get some dry erase markers and stockpile sticky notes. If you work remotely, consider building an online Kanban board using an online platform like Trello.

At its simplest, the board can be divided into three columns: “waiting,” “in progress” and “completed.” The type and number of sections can be changed depending on the project needs of your company. The board at Dittoe Public Relations includes an urgent column to signify projects that need the immediate attention of interns. There are also rows that divide projects up by the day of the week for further organization.

After the Kanban grid is laid out, start by having employees stick color-coded sticky notes with projects for interns in the first column. Each one should include the name of the employee who placed the project on the board, the date assigned, the deadline and a brief description of the project at hand.

To break it down even further, use various colors to signify different types of projects, such as blue notes for writing and red ones for research.

When beginning a new project, interns should write their name on the note selected and meet with the employee who placed the sticky on the board to get complete project details. Interns can then move the sticky into the proceeding sections as they move through the project until complete.

Why your office needs one

This type of workflow management is especially effective for interns and new employees because it allows them to visualize their projects, notice the pace of their work and grow their sense of accountability within the company. A Kanban also creates a sense of transparency — out in the open, the board holds interns accountable for the projects they choose and the deadlines associated with each project.

On the flip side, those who manage interns can use the board to gain valuable insight into their interns’ work. Are employees assigning too many or too few projects to interns? Are there too many writing projects and not enough research projects? Is an intern gravitating towards a certain type of project, and what work can be placed on the board to strengthen their skills in that area?

By creating and utilizing a Kanban board, companies will create a new, visual standard of work not only for your interns – but the entire company.

And besides, finally moving a sticky into the “complete” column after many status updates gives your interns even more satisfaction than crossing a task off their to-do list. Is there anything better than that?

 

Interested in boosting your resume? Apply for Dittoe PR’s Fall internship program!

If you’re interested in experiencing PR agency life and gaining real-world knowledge and experience, then Dittoe Public Relations may be the place for you! We’re hiring for multiple internship positions, including PR and social media interns, for the fall semester. Hours are flexible, pay is competitive and perks are abundant.

 

Here’s what you need to know:

Dittoe PR interns are responsible for assisting with the execution of strategic public relations and social media initiatives and contributing to the success of the firm’s clients, which span multiple industries. The internship position is an opportunity for detail-oriented, self-starters to develop a well-rounded public relations skill set in an energetic and challenging environment. The ideal candidate should have strong communication skills (both verbal and written), initiative, creativity, high energy and an outgoing personality. Interns will gain experience in media relations, research and analysis, reporting, writing and more.

Interns will be mentored by an intern director and work closely with the firm’s entire staff, from account coordinators to the company’s partners. While the intern director will help prioritize tasks, interns should feel comfortable juggling multiple projects and deadlines.

Responsibilities:

  • Drafting content including press releases, media advisories, media pitches, social media posts, byline articles, blog posts, monthly reports and other materials as directed
  • Carrying out special event planning tasks as outlined by the intern director
  • Attending and participating in agency meetings, training sessions, presentations and brainstorming sessions
  • Handling research and analysis projects in support of client objectives as needed
  • Delivering client-ready materials for each project assignment
  • Researching and developing comprehensive press lists for local, national and trade media
  • Assisting with client, business development and management projects as needed
  • Assisting with administrative duties as assigned by staff

Qualifications:

  • Actively enrolled in or a recent graduate of a university journalism, public relations, strategic communications, marketing, advertising or other related program
  • Previous professional and/or relevant internship experience (public relations experience is a plus)
  • An understanding of basic journalism and media relations skills
  • Solid, versatile writing skills in both creative and technical fields
  • An ability to be professional and personable in written and verbal communication
  • Demonstrates attention to detail and good judgment
  • Smart, creative, assertive and innovative individual who thrives in an extremely fast-paced environment
  • Flexible and willing to collaborate with teams
  • Proven ability to effectively prioritize and manage multiple tasks and competing deadlines
  • Knowledge in social media, design, photography/videography are a

 

To apply, send a cover letter, resume with references and three varying writing samples to Kate Shambrook at kate [at] dittoepr [dot] com. Please also indicate which position you’d be most interested in. Available positions include public relations intern or social media intern.

 

No phone calls please. Applications must be submitted by 5 P.M. EST on Friday, June 23.

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